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PUBLISHED: 13:25 29 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:27 03 July 2010

AN issue to raise blood pressure is the Blue Badges issued for disabled parking. Putting aside the use and abuse issue, I am trying to find out about County and Borough council thinking behind the charging for parking in council car parks for users of the badges.

AN issue to raise blood pressure is the Blue Badges issued for disabled parking. Putting aside the use and abuse issue, I am trying to find out about County and Borough council thinking behind the charging for parking in council car parks for users of the badges. In September, we took my mother in law to Scotland and stopped in several places on our way up and on the return trip home. Charging in places such as Sheffield, Edinburgh, Inverness, Thurso, Blackpool and Burton on Trent all varied, but had one common theme: The first three hours' parking displaying a Blue Badge was free except Burton on Trent where the parking was free all day. It is also free in Lowestoft for three hours. But here in Great Yarmouth, even when the badge is displayed, the full charge is applicable. The council supposedly carried out a consultation but I certainly could find the information about it and one disabled group whose HQ is in Norwich also knew nothing about it. Since we want to see the town encourage visitors, why charge for this when other places don't and, after contacting several councils to find out if plans to charge were being considered actually got a comment back of “what bunch of idiots would charge for disabled parking and discourage the disabled from visiting.” GYBC and NCC take note. But, it's not just this borough council that charges, it seem most councils in Norfolk do. Also, our county council doesn't seem immune from stupidity either. Use the park and rides around Norwich now and it seems the charge is by the person. For a family of four that could cost £8. Go to Canterbury and the cost in the park and ride is £2.50 all day for a car plus driver plus seven passengers. With the outer harbor doing so well for the town, why is it that county and borough councils are doing everything they can to ensure parking in the towns and county of Norfolk is fouled up as much as possible, the Police fail regularly to enforce the regulations and much needed revenue goes elsewhere?

DAVID GOODCHILD

Redwing Drive

Bradwell

I AM writing in response to the letter from Ken Overy (Mercury, October 23) regarding allegations of unscrupulous behaviour by bus drivers in issuing tickets to concessionary pass holders for journeys longer than those actually taken. It is important to clarify that there is absolutely no truth in such an assertion. In fact, as with concessionary tickets issued by all bus companies, the destination on the ticket makes no difference to the revenue received by the bus company. Payments to bus companies are made on the basis of the average fare charged to adult passengers multiplied by the number of journeys made by concessionary pass holders.

GUSSY ALAMEIN

Revenue and Marketing Manager

First in East England

DEMOCRACY in our council doesn't seem to be working and there are good reasons when a cabinet made up of a handful of people of one party control the town, often to the disregard of residents' opinions and refuse to discuss what we believe are important issues. A prime example is when a committee of Gorleston councillors set up to discuss and take forward certain issues to the cabinet, issues raised by residents in a democratic manner, a cabinet member can turn round and say, “it will never get to cabinet, and anyway I wouldn't support it.” This, before discussion with fellow members; discussion where in a democracy earlier thoughts may be changed by further discussion. The council leader also then said it would not be discussed at cabinet. Full stop. This sounds like stifling any suggestions by residents put through a democratic group of councillors of all parties, relevant to that area, who have decided it is important. This was after the first meeting of the new Gorleston Councillors Committee. The subject was Gorleston pier and car park, a subject taboo as far as our council is concerned - why? Does this make you wonder if there is a better way or are we content to be treated as unimportant, unthinking apathetic individuals, unable to take part in what is called democracy. Does our council cabinet have the monopoly of intelligent thinking - I think not judging by some of their recent decisions. It appears the Audit Commission doesn't think so either. The suggestion by Trevor Wainwright and Michael Castle in a recent Mercury is an interesting solution tried and tested and successful elsewhere. The proposal is to have an independent elected Mayor and leader of the council, rather than having one chosen by a ruling political party. The new mayor would effectively be the figurehead of the authority and the “buck” would stop with him or her. The mayor, independent of either party, would chose his or her own cross party cabinet, effectively taking party politics out of the cabinet by choosing the best people for the job. Hopefully this would lessen the political apathy which seems to increase with the years when residents consider their own opinion counts for nothing so don't bother to use their vote. The organisers promoting this system need 3,500 people eligible to vote in the borough to sign up to call for an elected independent leader. One thousand have already signed. If you think it would be a more democratic system that would help our opinions to be heard and acted upon why not give your support and sign up? I am.

DENNIS DURRANT

Brett Avenue,

Gorleston

I AM writing to express my continued dismay concerning illegal and dangerous parking in the area. It seems most of it goes unpunished. Everywhere you look there are people parking on pavements, verges, yellow lines, etc. School run times are a nightmare and, of course, times of increased danger. The general increase in numbers of vehicles over the years has been a major factor I suppose, but couple that with the apparent “phobia” of walking from A to B, rather than using the car, is making this a situation I feel must be addressed.

ANDREW GOODINGS

Bradwell

WE would like to invite all readers of The Mercury, especially those with links to Caister, to join us for the Annual Memorial Service to be held in the Parish Church in Caister at 6.30pm on Sunday, November 1. The service gives an opportunity for bereaved relatives, and friends of people who have died, to join us in a service to remember them. We have written to relatives of many of those whose funerals have been taken by the clergy of the parish over the past year inviting them to the service. But we are aware there are gaps in our lists and we know some people have been missed. So we have sought the help of The Mercury newspaper, to assure them they are invited to this service as well as all those invited in the past and, indeed, all bereaved relatives.

TIM THOMPSON

Rector

Caister on Sea

ON Monday, my wife and I attended the Council meeting at which the Freedom of the Borough was conferred on our High Steward, Michael Falcon CBE, and we were very impressed by the proceedings. In the best Great Yarmouth tradition, the ceremony demonstrated that unique combination of dignity and informality which epitomizes civic life in the town. It would be invidious to select any one group or person for praise but great credit is due to all the Town Hall staff, seen and unseen, the officers and councillors and, of course, the Mayor who made an impressive speech and was always in control. Mr Falcon truly deserves this honour in recognition of his long contribution to the Borough.

NICK POWNALL

Seafield Close

Great Yarmouth

SOME time ago Harry Flaxman wrote about the rood screen and its message, suggesting that virtues are a way to heaven.

That may indeed be true of such ones as Jesus described at Luke 22: 28-30. However, Jesus also said that under his kingdom rule that “The meek will inherit the earth” Matthew 5:5 and at PS 37:29 the Psalm states “The righteous themselves will possess the earth and they will reside forever upon it.” So under Christ's rule the earth will once more become a paradise, ruled over by Christ and those who will rule with him in heaven.

PHILIP KNIGHT

Wherry Way,

Great Yarmouth

FOR the record, Eastport UK is the trading name of Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd. The shares of Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd are owned by International Port Holdings. Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd owns the shares of Eastport UK Cargo Handling Services Ltd. Ultimately, International Port Holdings also owns this business.

The accountants for Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd in the audited financial statements of that business (to 31st December 2008) state that the ultimate ownership of International Port Holdings (registered in Jersey) is uncertain.

Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd acquired the assets of The Great Yarmouth Port Authority when the outer harbour deal was struck and paid at least £45m for its assets - presumably this included Gorleston Pier. Also, in some way, the value of the land Yarmouth Borough Council transferred into this project (say £3m), plus £3m of Norfolk County Council cash plus £8.8m of European Regional Development Funding from EEDA has found its way into the balance sheet of Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd - yes that's £15m of public funds committed to a business that even its auditors cannot determine ultimate ownership of.

Also in the same audited statements for the year ending 31st December 2008 International Port Holdings charged Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd £605,000 in management fees. The charging of management fees by a holding company to a subsidiary is a common practice in large groups to offset some of the holding company's overheads. There is no detailed analysis as to what these management overheads are.

A trawl of the EEDA website also details the following report about progress on the outer harbour:

RC1108(4) Annex 3 - Performance Report for 2008/2009: Outer Harbour project in Gt Yarmouth is forecasting 690 jobs to be safeguarded or created this year.£5.5m Public investment levered (Editor's comment - presumably value of land from GYBC and cash from Norfolk County Council).£12.4m Private investment levered.

Yes you've got it! The Outer Harbour Project had already created or safeguarded 690 jobs by the 31st March 2009. It would be interesting to know how and where these jobs were either created or safeguarded. A safeguarded job in EEDA/ERDF speak is a full-time equivalent job that has existed for 12 months and results directly from the project.

Yes the truth, or parts of it really are out there! But let's consider this in the light of what's transpiring now. The dock workforce has been eradicated and replaced by lower cost labour; Cllr Barry Stone says the time isn't right to force Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd to repair the pier but that same business seems to have sufficient cash to pay management fees of nearly £605,000 that will probably be repeated every year into perpetuity. Probably from the £7.5m facility it has with Barclays Bank Plc (it's all in the accounts).

The people of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston are expecting a windfall from the jobs that this project should have created but apparently two-thirds of that target had already been achieved at 31st March 2009.

And finally, £15m of public finance and in-kind contributions have been swallowed up by a private company that its own auditors cannot trace ultimate ownership of. The result - the people of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston will lose access to a long-standing asset that will be allowed to collapse in on itself because of the owners needing to generate dividends and management charges to the ultimate, but unknown owners. Once again the council tax payers of this borough have been sold short on this little deal.

DAVID WILKINSON

Whinchat Way

Bradwell

WHAT a shame that bouncers are having to be employed by KFC in order to protect their staff and customers at the weekends. I remember a gentler time when Saturday nights were spent at the Floral Hall, now the Ocean Rooms. We went by bus and came home on the bus at 11.45pm when everything closed as Sundays were kept special then. The bus had a driver who was not scared of being beaten up and a conductor who had no fear of being mugged for his money. We would get off the bus at the Regal and buy chips on the market as there was always one stall open. As I lived near the seafront my friend and I would walk through St George's Park home. Can you imagine daring to do that now at midnight? Unfortunately due to the liberal licensing laws, the town centre is now a no-go area at night for many people.

PAULINE LYNCH

Mill Lane

Bradwell

MUCH has been said recently about the dangers our beaches face should an oil spill from one of these transfers at sea occur. Anyone who can remember previous bad spills will also remember the oil will not be selective, it could affect all the beaches on this coast. Opinion against has been expressed by local Members of Parliament, and environmentalists and for by local businesses.

It seems that you are either one way or the other, however having heard the rumours locally that we now have the ships off our coasts due to a spill in Torbay I thought it helpful to find out what actually happened there. The result is a letter from a very responsible person covering three of the south coast's most important beaches and harbours etc. It indicates that the safest obvious choice might not be the one to consider. So although MP Bob Blizzard has announced that legislation will be completed by the end of the year he may consider that some further discussion may be necessary to prevent us finishing up with 30 ships parked 12½ miles out from our beaches outside of the control of UK authorities with business lost and risks increased.

DEREK COOK

Middlestone Close

Gorleston

FOLLOWING a recent visit to the Marina Centre, I was appalled to find out that after having got changed into my swimwear, there was no locker to put my clothes and possessions into. The few lockers that were not broken or damaged had been taken. I spoke to a member of staff and was told it was not their responsibility for the security of my possessions. This was unsatisfactory and I would have thought that a big complex such as the Marina Centre would be able to provide such adequate and basic facilities. Great Yarmouth has a holiday trade but it is the small details that people remember and relay to their friends and family on their return home. Having your wallet pinched would have a devastating knock-on affect to the rest of the holiday. Think on... would you come back: I think not!

Mrs E CANHAM

Great Yarmouth

AFTER all the press and TV coverage of the postal service and rubbish collections I would to like to say a big thank you to all those whose job it is to carry on working in all weathers. This morning I was sat in my armchair having a cup of tea and taking my tablets. By the time I had finished, the rubbish men had emptied my wheelie bin, the postman had delivered the mail and a man with a street cleaning machine had also gone past. All of them are doing a good job working on despite the rain, while I sat in the warm drinking my tea and stroking the cat.

GLENYS BRIGHT

Lowestoft Road

Gorleston on sea

I WISH to complain about the removal of the “No Dogs” signs along the seafront near the yacht pond and shops at Gorleston. While taking my grandchildren on a walk along the beach I couldn't believe they had been taken down. Doesn't the council realise our lovely Gorleston beach is used not only in the summer, but every day by young mums with small children, and schools too, with parties of children. With dogs running around among the children, it is quite frightening. You have to be so careful with strange dogs. They are off their leads and lively and excited. I saw a little child knocked over near the water's edge by a dog. The child was upset, as were the parents. Some dog owners release their pets to run all over the beach without control, and don't seem to care that the beach is being fouled for the children, and adults, to pick up on their shoes. We try and get the children out on the beach for exercise, only to be thwarted by certain inconsiderate dog owners. I appeal to the council to please, please put back those signs. I would hate to witness a child mauled by one of these loose animals.

BRENDA BECKETT

Kingfisher Close

Bradwell

JUST what is Barry Coleman's problem? He appears, to all intents and purposes, to have spent the summer lying down in a darkened room, avoiding large swathes of dissatisfaction about various problems. Now he feels suitably energised to stamp his feet and say it is not the right time to contact EastPort. When does he consider would be a good time? I feel this councillor needs reminding he is supposed to be a mere functionary of the electorate and as a large number of people want action taken by EastPort, it is his responsibility to pursue the matter on our behalf.

JIM MALLARD

Beach Road

Winterton on Sea

I WAS walking home from the shops at about 5 45pm on Tuesday night and saw a bright orange light in the sky. I asked someone walking down the street what she thought it was and she replied that it looked like a big lantern. I wondered if it was an aircraft on fire. It was low flying and steady and not particularly fast. As it went into the distance it looked like an arc of orange lights and I thought maybe it was a publicity stunt. When I googled “Orange lights over Yarmouth”, I read what you had said among a lot of other reports. This was the first I had heard of anything being seen like this.

SUE DAVIDSON

email

IN reply to C Madle from Belton (Letters, October 23), I do agree with one point on his interpretation of my personal view and that is “a reasoned judgement on this emotive subject”. Politicians should come clean and admit the future of England's energy sources will not be able to sustain itself by wind alone; current predictions are for 20pc by 2020. This means power stations will still need to be built to prop up the shortfall from wind, unless we are to buy from abroad. Well intentioned citizens hoping for greener fuel technology are misinformed by turbine output and the added cost to energy bills to fund these structures. With regards to Mr Madle's concern of untruths in previous correspondence, I have newspaper clippings for him to peruse if he so wishes. Other claims with regards contaminated landfill at installation site, a 100 lorries to remove soil from base excavation and 240 lorries involved only in the concrete base work and also 30pc maximum operational output come from the SLP report which took me four and a half hours to read. A further point: the new proposal is at the opposite side of the village to me. I live near the 10 turbines at Collis Lane and the large one on Martham Road, I am not a Nimby and do not object to them being in my viewpoint or near my property. Overdevelopment of turbines in one area is what I object to or being surrounded by them. The motive behind the land availability is in question, especially as a new housing estate on Waters Lane and the redevelopment of Pontins is in village discussion. Sometimes a planning application is a move too far. One wonders if it's greed above green. The quantity of still evenings with mist and frosts hanging, is equal to windy evenings and yes, I admit I struggle with the understanding of four turbines on the other side of Hemsby playing a part against larger offshore developments.

Ms ELLIS

Hemsby

THERE is too much talk of folk being racist, making people afraid to speak out, so breaking down Freedom of Speech. We must now concentrate on bringing back confidence in police complaints ref not following up a problem so a victim is dissatisfied with the interest shown, and the fact it is assumed they don't have a problem, when for them it is real enough. We have Freedom of Speech, but taking over the streets by religious or political groups. must not happen We must not be complacent. I feel Freedom of Speech is threatened and we need a strong police presence but not a Police State; we don't need to be told how to mix with neighbours. And folk don't talk about the lads out there in Afghanistan and Iraq; they appear afraid to mention it. Regarding selling poppies: the period they are on sale is too short for the sellers. As a second world war veteran, I hope people support the Poppy Appeal shop in the Victoria Arcade.

R FIRMIN,

Great Yarmouth

ends

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