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PUBLISHED: 18:03 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 12:20 03 July 2010

LAST week, my father received a letter from Great Yarmouth Borough Council informing him my mother's headstone in the Magdalen cemetery was unsafe and needed urgent repair.

LAST week, my father received a letter from Great Yarmouth Borough Council informing him my mother's headstone in the Magdalen cemetery was unsafe and needed urgent repair.

As my father is 86 years old and no longer drives he asked me to deal with it and so on November 7 I visited the grave to inspect the headstone and noted it had indeed come loose from the concrete slab it rests on. This surprised me as it had been perfectly sound when I visited the grave a week previously.

I called at the crematorium office where I was told the cement joint had probably been damaged by frost. I didn't realise we had such severe frosts in October. When I asked how the test had been carried out, I believe the topple test has been discredited and subsequently banned by the ombudsman, I was told inspectors now use the highly technical “grasp it and tug” method.

As any budding vandal will tell you, if you have enough leverage, and 30ins of headstone provides a fairly good lever, it is possible to break any joint if you try hard enough.

I was also told the inspection was being carried out in the name of health and safety as a number of people, I suspect a deliberately vague statistic, had been injured whilst using headstones to pull themselves up.

And so we have a situation whereby relatives, many of them probably like my father, elderly and living on a pension, are being caused considerable expense. I am told it can cost up to £270 to install the council's preferred option of ground anchors, because of the inappropriate use of headstones by a few individuals.

Headstones are there for one purpose only, to commemorate a loved one, they are not intended to be used as handrails, seats, footrests etc, and I see no reason why people should be penalised because they might be misused.

In many instances, I am told about 40 a week, a deed transfer is required before any repair can be carried out. A “service” for which the council charge approximately £45, a nice little earner for the council.

There must be an awful lot of unsafe headstones in the Yarmouth area, so remember your hard hat the next time you visit a loved one.

MRS S A MCKAY

Taylors Road

Beccles

NO doubt most of you have noticed that quite a few roads in Great Yarmouth and the surrounding areas have become quite congested, even jammed, over the summer period. Well, I'm afraid you're going to have to get used to it, because once the outer harbour is up and running, there are going to be serious problems around here due to the powers-that-be either not knowing or not caring about what they are doing.

Don't get me wrong - if done right, the outer harbour is a good idea, but we need a new river crossing and maybe the Acle Straight dualled as well, before the harbour is completed; not forgetting Gapton Hall roundabout of course, which the authorities want to do nothing about!

This area is far too small to cope with the traffic it gets now, never mind the extra workload it's going to get from all the lorries. Most of the income in this area is from tourists, but when it gets to the stage that everywhere they go is at a standstill, what with that and the wonderful parking facilities around here, they will start going somewhere else - be warned!

MR M NICHOLS

Newtown,

Great Yarmouth

I MANAGE a centre in Lowestoft that works with young people that, for many different reasons, need some help to get them on their feet. We help them gain qualifications and build their confidence so that they can develop into well-rounded individuals capable of looking after themselves and prospering. It can be a difficult journey for them as they often have had many tough experiences growing up.

On November 5 a small group of our young people, along with their tutor, volunteered to stand in Lowestoft High Street selling poppies on behalf of the Royal British Legion. All was going well until two police officers approached one of the group saying they had received two reports from the public about him acting suspiciously.

Despite clearly wearing an official name badge and the seal on the collection unit being secure, the young man was searched; subjected to the humiliation and embarrassment of being searched by police on a busy high street for volunteering to collect money that will eventually go to support our brave servicemen and women.

It saddens me the young man was put through this just because some members of the public thought he didn't look like the kind of lad who would be doing a good deed so he couldn't be. He was prejudged negatively for wearing a cap and a hoodie. We wonder why some of our young people have such negative attitudes towards older generations? I think we have to look at our own attitudes to understand them.

I'd like to thank the Royal British Legion for giving our young people the opportunity to show they do care and can be involved in doing good for the community. And I offer no thanks to the people who look down on young people even when they are trying to do good deeds for others.

JAMES WESTON

Back Pier Plain

Gorleston

AS the new manager of our brand new charity shop in Great Yarmouth, I would like to let the readers know we are now finally open and ready to continue raising money for the new hospice through our new store at 151 King Street (the old 151 Nightclub, opposite Christchurch).

We are looking for volunteers who can give us a few hours a week to help in the shop mornings or afternoons? So if anyone is interested in a position, please call in for a form and chat with us.

Our new shop is also in need of donations of ladies and menswear, bric-a-brac, CDs, DVDs, books, shoes, handbags etc. All donations are greatly appreciated at our shop.

We are a local charity working to build a hospice for local people. You are supporting a worthwhile and much-needed cause.

We look forward to seeing you all

LUKE SMITH

Yare Hospice Care

THE new lights that overhang Regent Road looked very nice when they were put up, but are now falling down in places and even broken, and this is starting to make them look tacky. Why don't the council repair them and make it look good again? It's been like this for months now. It's not a good image for the town as it looks like we just don't care about the place.

Even the poor spotlights over the beach are no longer working and haven't done all summer. What is it about things not being mended in this town? It's not a good image for the tourists, is it?

It seems that no one cares any more and this is a shame. Let's keep the “great” that so many people talk about in Great Yarmouth!

MR S BUTTON

Regent Road

Great Yarmouth

GREAT news, the dolphins near Darby's Hard are to be saved and restored and that's official because Mr David Fowde, the Borough Council Head of Architectural Services said so in the Mercury last week. But why am I concerned?

It must be three years ago now I was asked to define my ideas for a continuation of the High Street conservation area with important buildings defined going as far as the west end of High Road.

Now as anyone in Gorleston will know, to get information from the Conservation Department is not any easy task. At the last Gorleston Forum I raised the problem of lack of contact and asked to be kept informed, this was agreed by the head of regeneration and my email address taken.

Nothing happened, it eventually took a question under the freedom of information act to get an answer - there were objections from a major land owner.

It took another email to find this so-called landowner was EastPort, not an owner but a leasee, who were “owners” of just some parts of Darby's Hard and were concerned a conservation area would impose limitations on future use. Now come on, this has been a neglected, but picturesque piece of natural shoreline for decades, once populated with privately-owned boats until the supply boats decimated many.

The idea of a conservation area is that it gives a measure of protection and this is just what this area needs because it is the last area of natural riverside in Gorleston and an important part of our rapidly disappearing heritage. It is important to many Gorlestonians and would be an act of total vandalism to not to restore and maintain it.

These objections from EastPort must be dealt with quickly and positively in favour of restoration to its original state.

Now why am I concerned? Because I have been chasing for this area to be restored for years without success but little notice has been taken of the area by our council until it came into the news by the public-spirited efforts of Barry Tough to make it a little more presentable.

Why, after all these years, have the council decided to put up a more permanent fence now because as John Cooper so rightly says it is the first indication of destruction to come?

I ask the council under the “freedom of information act” to come clean. When will the inspection of the dolphins take place? And finally when will the beach huts which contain dangerous asbestos be demolished or is this another fence job?

I ask publically so people can see how difficult it is to get information from our paid employees.

DENNIS DURRANT

Brett Avenue

Gorleston

A RESPONSE at last from the Great Yarmouth Borough Council. Front page no less.

Head of Architectural Service states: “The council will repair the Dolphins.

Does this mean that maybe, just maybe next year we will see small boats once again being kept within the safety of the Dolphin Pens, and see the children crabbing from the jetties. May we also hope that all three dolphins will once again be as they were in the 1950's.

Perhaps the council would like some volunteer help in this project, maybe they could start a register of willing names, as money earmarked for Gorleston has been spent on the “Golden Mile” so I assume a little help would not go amiss?

But let's not run before we can walk, let's see what the council comes up with at the survey this week; knowing our council is it to be a survey on how to get out of the renovation of the dolphins?

Well done Great Yarmouth Mercury, well done Barry.

JOHN L COOPER

Burnt Lane

Gorleston

I UNDERSTAND the decision to charge blue badge holders parking on the Great Yarmouth car parks was taken at a Centre 81 meeting. Centre 81 don't use the car parks. All their people go around in minibuses so why was the decision taken there.

Could the parking Taliban in the centrally heated offices in the town hall on vast salaries tell me where the maintenance of disabled spaces come in? Where are the extra spaces that were going to be provided for badge holders?

CHARLIE PEACE

Caister

AGELESS Opportunities will be holding another fun day for people over 50 at the Priory Centre on Friday, January 9. There will be a wide variety of activities to try out, or just watch if you prefer.

We will once again have a Wii for people to try and we would like to know if there are any Wii leagues in the borough. Also whether there are any local knitting groups or circles. The theme will be warming up, in addition to the activities there will be exercises, fuel advice and cooking.

I hope your readers will be able to help.

RACHAEL TREZISE

Ageless Opportunities

Great Yarmouth

I LIVE in a cul-de-sac of residences which has its own exclusive postcode.

Several of the other residents, like me, have lived here for over 40 years. Recently one of them (necessarily) has been in the James Paget Hospital for over a fortnight. On each of those (appropriate) days in daylight, I have collected the mail and the newspaper (having read it first) and I have taken these to the Paget.

As yet there has been no enquiry from the neighbours, no telephone calls, no apparent consideration, no obvious concern etc, etc.

So much for Neighbourhood Watch.

Name and Address withheld

RE: Fears over speeding (GYM, November 14). Why are the police unable to provide results of these checks made on Tuesday?

We pay for the police and are entitled to view the results. Or is it that the results obtained show either that there was not a massive problem, or the problems was perceived and not born out by the results? Either way let us have the information. Failure to reveal the results helps nobody and only makes the public more suspicious as to what we are (not) told.

M E HOOD

Claydon Grove

Gorleston-on-Sea

WE would like to strongly protest about the comments made by D Feetham on the letters page in last Friday's Mercury.

As residents, and members of the Cobholm Community Centre, we would have attended the remembrance service at the War Memorial if we had known about it!

Event members of TS Warrior were unaware!

B WARNER, B MOULD, R SELBY, SR CATER, B MOORES, N MOORES, F THOMPSON, C STEWARD

Residents of Cobholm

I AM writing with regard to the letter from D Feetham (November 14) concerning the 'poor show of remembrance'.

He makes no mention of any of the public houses, businesses or even TS Warrior attending the service.

Our committee decided that we should send representatives to a remembrance service and as we were unsure of whether one would be taking place in Cobholm, we decided to attend the one over in Great Yarmouth.

Mrs ORIEL ELSOM

Secretary

Cobholm Community Centre

REGARDING 'a poor show of remembrance', D Feetham (letters, November 14).

In response to Mr Feetham's letter I would like to draw attention to the fact that we knew nothing about the service in Cobholm but felt that we wanted to remember our war dead so we attended the service and wreath laying in St George's Park instead.

If a notice had been placed in the Cobholm noticeboard, we may then have attended our local service - but then again as posters/notices keep disappearing from the noticeboard perhaps we wouldn't.

Anyway, I will remember my friends and family who died in the wars in my own way.

KAREN LOVEJOY

Designated Premises Supervisor

Cobholm Community Centre

I AM writing in answer to D Feetham's letter in last Friday's Mercury. The residents of Cobholm did not attend the service of remembrance at the Cobholm War Memorial as nobody was informed about it. The majority of people from Cobholm and the community centre that I have spoken to attended services elsewhere - this includes myself.

Mrs D JOHNSON

Chairperson

Cobholm Community Centre

IN May, we noticed a £4.50 charge had been added to our quarterly phone bill for paying by cheque - we never pay by direct debit.

We thought this was a mistake, so we paid our telephone bill on time, as we had for the previous 44 years, less the £4.50. We wrote to BT about the “pay by cheque penalty charge” as we referred to it, but nothing happened.

By July, we received the next bill, paid it less the accumulating “pay by cheque penalty charge'”and then received a demand from BT for the unpaid charges. We wrote criticising this policy and received a standard BT reply. Only one small part of the BT letter referred to the “pay by cheque penalty charge” and that part told us that the charge was normal in the industry - really?

I wrote to BT several times insisting this was unfair on any level and that BT advertised they would adjust methods of payment to suit the customer. I explained if pensioners had to pay a penalty for paying bills by cheque, they would soon be without a cheque book as well as a deflated pension!

I received the BT standard letter three times in reply, so I wrote to OTELO (Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman). They said “unfortunately your complaint doesn't fit within the terms of our responsibilities. Whether to provide a product or service, and on what terms, are 'commercial decisions'. That means we cannot deal with it."

OTELO suggested that providing I had followed BT's internal complaints procedure, I could contact Ofcom (Office of Communications). This really fired me up, so I wrote a “disgusted” letter to OTELO and a further detailed complaint to Ofcom.

I received an Ofcom reply where they reckoned they had set up a national assessment of industry penalty charges in 2007. Would you believe it - they had closed their review in May 2008 - the very month that BT launched the £4.50 “pay by cheque penalty charge”. They claimed they would soon make a final decision from having assessed these problems.

To date that report has not arrived and of course when it does, it will not include this BT £4.50 “pay by cheque penalty charge”.

We continued to refuse to pay BT the penalties and wrote to Ofcom again. Eventually I received a letter from John Ingram of Central Operations, Telecoms Team at Ofcom. He wrote half a page of the same old whitewash I had received from all parties, still claiming how important their organisation is in “aiming to improve customer service levels”, but ended with the same anomaly, “If you believe you have been charged incorrectly by BT, you should raise the matter with BT. If you are unhappy with their response, you can contact OTELO (the Telecom's Ombudsman) for an independent review.....er….that rings a bell!

J AND M DOVE

Hemsby

ACCORDING to the magazine Your Norfolk July 2005 edition, a target of 11 days per officer a year sick leave was aimed at and achieved by Norfolk Constabulary.

Under the heading “Optimum Management of Resources” the policing plan for 2008/11 now aims to reduce average sick leave to 7.5 days per officer a year. If this target is achieved, the financial benefits as well as the enhancement in police efficiency will be quite substantial. But then it would seem quite reasonable for the taxpayer to ask, especially during these stressing times of severe economic difficulties, precisely what management tools are now being used to cut absenteeism so sharply, that could not have been used years ago.

JOHN KENNY

Habgood Close

Acle

ST Laurence's Church in Brundall is a lovely 13th century building set in a well tree-d and pretty churchyard. The church authorities have recently announced they wish to build a huge modern extension of approximately four times the size of the existing church plus a large car park which will involve felling many beautiful old trees and digging up most of the northern part of the churchyard. This development is expected to cost in excess of £1m.

I do not know how much support there is for this plan, but I do know there is a great deal of local opposition. Many local people see this as a wanton attack on our local heritage and natural environment. Many see it as an obscene waste of money at a time when people are worried about losing their homes and livelihoods in the current financial crisis.

Many people who attend other local churches which are in grave need of repair ask why so much is being spent on St Laurence's Church which is still in good repair.

The church is rarely full. There are plenty of empty seats at most services. So where will the extra people come from to fill this enlarged church? Not from those who see it as destructive of our local heritage and environment. Not from those who see it as an obscene extravagance.

Not from new residents of Brundall. Local authority development plans show that only 20 to 50 new homes are planned for Brundall between now and 2026. Nor is it likely that those currently attending other churches will come.

The probability is that after the vast expense and huge destruction caused by building this monstrosity, it will remain largely empty, standing for all to see as a monument to the hubris of those who caused it to be built.

G M HUGHES

Address withheld


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