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Letters, December 17

PUBLISHED: 10:13 17 December 2010

No consistency in Blue Badge rules

IT seems once more Blue Badges have more than raised an issue with people including Mrs Chilvers and Mr Blood.

I can remember when my father got the Orange Badge for my mother, and leafing through what you could and couldn’t do. Then when it became the Blue Badge (to conform with Europe, more Euro rubbish) I remember there being some more changes. At the time I wasn’t that interested, but when my father was taken ill and qualified and then also getting Blue Badges for my mother, mother- and father-in-law and my aunt, I took more interest.

When the badge arrives you get a booklet. In the first one I received it did say the badge was to be used to provide easier parking and access for people with a disability. It warns you can be moved on if the police or traffic wardens consider you are causing an obstruction; that it is not a ticket to park anywhere; gives many examples of places you cannot park, and informs you it is your responsibility to check local authority parking regulations. These are displayed on the payment boards and there may be no other signs.

Mr Blood comments about free parking, but in some cases the vehicle may have been provided under the mobility scheme and all you pay for is the fuel. However, as he says, if you can pay to run a car then you surely can pay for parking.

We’ve taken my mother-in-law on several trips around the country and there are variations in the regulations. In Suffolk, where I believe Mrs Chilvers is from, you get three hours free parking.

Sheffield offered three hours free, as did Edinburgh, Sterling, Perth, Fort William, Inverness and Wick. Blackpool offered three hours free in a disabled bay but charged in a standard bay and Burton upon Trent was free all day in any council car park so long as you put the badge up. However, in Norfolk in council car parks, you pay.

That’s before you get on to the badge misuse. I was quizzed once when I was displaying the badge parked on double yellow lines while my mother in law was in the dentist. The officer informed me the disabled person couldn’t stay in the car if the badge was displayed although I could. How many times have you seen the disabled person stay in the car?

I have mixed feelings about it. I haven’t heard of that many badge holders getting a ticket for misuse and I’ve also seen the badge used by people who clearly are able bodied. Again, I don’t see many checks carried out by the police or traffic wardens and I certainly don’t see them moving badge holders on in places like Howard Street South where their parking on double yellow lines is clearly causing an obstruction.

After all that, I do wonder why Norfolk County Council and Yarmouth Borough Council decided to charge. I was told discussions had been held with ‘various disabled groups’ about the possibility of the charge being introduced. Pressing the council, I was given a list of who they supposedly contacted. One organisation, based in Norwich, came back to me saying they could find no record of GYBC ever contacting them! Of the others I went to, all said they had been opposed to the charge being introduced – the opposite of what I was told by the council.

I somehow feel it is just another way to raise revenue. God only knows, they need it since after fleecing people in the town with excessive council tax, they have to find some way to pay for the white elephant outer harbour and ensure the money rolls in to get their expenses paid on time. Well done GYBC and NCC for driving out people who would spend money in the town and county.

Maybe it’s me, but what seems odd is the hospitals situation: If you take your car you are ripped off (in England anyway) to be treated. If you have a Blue Badge, you get your parking free!

DAVID GOODCHILD

Redwing Drive

Bradwell

Parking problems mar festive spirit

THE town is looking lovely and festive, the shop assistants are pleasant and helpful and the music played in the shops helps to spread the Christmas feeling.

It would all be perfect if we could park more easily. Isn’t it about time to take over some of the many unused disabled spaces so that other users can find a space?

PAULINE LYNCH

Mill Lane

Bradwell

Please scrap this waste of money

THREE-and-a-half years on, we have a parking scheme which has never worked, and which was never wanted by most people. Nobody visiting Great Yarmouth has ever understood it, owing to the poor signage. It costs more to administer than the cash the charges and fines generate.

During any day of the week, 100 plus spaces stand empty throughout the zone – over the three-and-a-half years, that’s more than 100,000 wasted spaces, many of which could have brought business to our town.

Now the council proposes to make Zone A even more complicated by mixing paid-for bays into the scheme using old parking meters from the sea front, deemed near the end of their working life. Does this mean high maintenance costs?

All of this in the hope, that such action will generate extra income to cover the ever growing expenditure required to keep the scheme from being a burden on the ratepayers of Great Yarmouth.

GYBC I urge you to scrap this scheme and stop wasting the town’s finances once and for all.

RALPH CHILDS

Great Yarmouth

For the record... I didn’t do it!

THE guy at the local garage I use is always amazed that I don’t get more upset by the frequent outrageous letters slagging me off in the local press. I suppose it is something of a compliment that they know my name. However, I do naturally get fed up being blamed for other people’s mistakes.

G Cass of Belton (December 10) seems to think I am responsible for long delays over Great Yarmouth’s new regional casino. Not guilty!

I think Cllr Graham Plant made the suggestion that additional work undertaken by council staff having to check the 5,000 signatures submitted for the elected mayor referendum was the main reason for the 18-month delay with the casino project. That having been printed in the Eastern Daily Press and Advertiser doesn’t in itself make it true – far from it.

For the record, much of the delay must lay at the door of some councillors who have always favoured delay – preferring other councils to make the running with the casino procurement process. Then there was a change to the council’s legal services, the sudden illness of a key member of staff and an almighty cock-up with the formal advert back in September.

I am not to blame for any of those things.

Incidentally, I didn’t say that local businesses would pay the cost of the elected mayor referendum – I said we were pleased that lots of individuals and businesses have donated money to enable us to cover the cost of a leaflet to go to all households in advance of the referendum. Quite a different thing.

MICK CASTLE

Town Wall Road,

Great Yarmouth

Why celebrate a pagan festival?

DECEMBER 25 is almost here again, when most people in the West celebrate the pagan festival of Yule (Christmas). Even, astonishingly, many who claim to be Christians.

Tragically, millions today follow made-up forms of Christianity, faint shadows of the New Testament blueprint. For a start, Luke’s Gospel says that at the time of Jesus’ birth in Judaea (modern-day Palestine) “there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night”. Winter in Palestine is cold, and the sheep would have stayed under cover during December. There would have been no shepherds looking after sheep in the fields, so Jesus was not born in December.

In any case, nowhere does the New Testament say we should celebrate the birth of the Son of God or that Christians should take part in pagan practices. These include making decorations from evergreen branches, holly and mistletoe. Pagans also hung bits of metal and images of Bacchus, the god of wine and drunkenness, on living trees. The early Christian writer Tertullian (AD 160-230) complained that many Christians in his day, like the pagans, decorated their doorways with lamps and their doorposts with wreaths.

Also, the sun god Mithras was said to have been born on December 25th. And the Romans honoured the god Saturn in their Saturnalia festival, which began the week before December 25th. Gift-giving, singing, feasting and debauchery marked the Saturnalia. Now what does any of this have to do with the real Christian faith?

Jesus, the Lord God, says, “Blessed are the pure in heart [mind], for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). But you cannot be “pure in heart” (and when your life ends “see God”) if you follow pagan practices and spend hours staring at a TV screen over Christmas, or at any time. Yet most people today think they are going to that holy place called heaven when they die.

E BARKHUIZEN

Albemarle Road

Gorleston

An extraordinary act of kindness

IN the Obituary in Tuesday’s Times newspaper of a Ghurkha VC called Havildar Lachhiman Gurung, VC, I was interested to read of the extraordinary kindness of Eric Williams of Great Yarmouth, who had served as a forward OP signaller with 136 Regiment Royal Artillery in support of 4/8th Gurkha Rifles in Burma in 1945.

And on discovering the straits in which Lachhiman was living, he paid for the education of his children. What a generous act for a stranger. Is Eric Williams still alive to read about this?

IAN PETER MACDONALD

Spixworth Road

Norwich

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is such a heartwarming story. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Eric Williams, or his family members, please contact anne.edwards@archant.co.uk or call Miles Jermy on 01493 847961

I beg to differ on colour of blazers

I KNOW I’m a pedantic old git but I think it is something to do with getting old.

In Peggotty’s great article about the grammar school on December 3, he mentions the boy’s blazer as being navy in colour.

Surely they were black or has my memory let me down (again!) I was at the grammar school in 1951/2 before coming to Australia and can remember the very strict uniform rules that applied. Maybe someone remembers me from those days?

ALAN SYMONDS

email: greenacre6@hotmail.com

Turn up the heat and lose weight

IT’S been a rotten winter so far. All that ice, snow and slush. Not exactly a winter wonderland. However, recently I’ve discovered something that I’m sure will be of interest to many of the Mercury readers, especially those ladies who are finding some difficulty struggling into their dresses which strangely seem to have shrunk.

It’s quite simple really. A very different way to achieve weight reduction. For the past two years or so, I’ve suffered quite badly from a permanent cold, heavy congestion of my lungs, many, many bouts of sneezing, I just couldn’t shift it. Then one day a lady friend of mine made a casual remark regarding an old time remedy: sweating it out. I remembered my mother using that method on me when I was a small child, so I thought I might was well give it a try.

That night I went to bed and threw a couple of extra blankets on the duvet. The next morning I awoke and realised it hadn’t worked. Still more heat was needed. It being late autumn, I hadn’t yet connected my electric blanket. So, the next night I left it switched on to a medium setting. I slept well and awoke about seven in the morning.

This time the extra heat had worked, I was absolutely soaking wet with perspiration. I felt fine, the cough and sneezing had been beaten. In a day or two the congestion in my lungs also disappeared. I then realised I didn’t have my usual appetite. I weighed myself every morning and found I was losing weight. I wasn’t dieting, I just didn’t feel as hungry.

So there we are ladies, get an electric blanket, use it sensibly and lose a dress size or two by Christmas.

JOHN NICHOLS

Emmanuel Avenue

Gorleston

Electing a mayor is our best option

I AM very proud to be part of the campaign for an elected mayor for Great Yarmouth.

Thousands of local people have signed up to this because they can see that it is more democratic to have a leader elected by all 70,000 voters in the borough rather than as few as 20 councillors. It is not at all party political, despite what our opponents might try to suggest.

Both the last Labour government and the current coalition have pledged to hold referendums so that local people themselves can decide whether they want an elected mayor. Yarmouth people just happen to be the first people in East Anglia to make that choice.

Judging by the murky way that decisions are being planned behind the scenes by our political masters to try to merge Great Yarmouth with South Norfolk, I believe the referendum can’t come quick enough.

An elected mayor with a mandate from all the people will be our best way of defending our services, our civic traditions and our right to run our own affairs here in Yarmouth.What price our council housing after a merger? Remember that South Norfolk sold theirs off years ago? We know exactly where some people are trying to take us!

MARIE FIELD

Audley Street

Great Yarmouth

Sports store will be sorely missed

MUCH to our disappointment, my daughter and I have found out that Mobbs, the sports outfitter in Regent Street, is forced to shut down in the new year.

We have been using Mobbs for 20 years, when they first opened in The Arcade. We have been informed by the staff that the reason they are closing down is due to cheap prices on the internet. The staff were so helpful in supplying football equipment for my grandsons, who are grown up now. I don’t know where I could get this service again for my great-grandchildren.

MARGARET RUMSBY AND KIM ROSS

Great Yarmouth

Dog owners are not cleaning up

HAVING just moved to Great Yarmouth to retire, we are disgusted with the amount of dog fouling in the streets, promenade and waterways.

We returned home this morning to find a heap of dog mess outside our elderly neighbour’s house, which we cleaned up. Who are the councillors for this area, Newtown? Do they ever walk anywhere or do they choose to turn a blind eye to the filth? Who are the filthy owners who think it is okay for their dogs to defecate and for them not to clear it up?

The council has the power to fine these morons up to £1,000. So why don’t they? In spite of signs everywhere requesting you clear up after your dog, it is obvious they have no effect anymore.

The grass behind the tennis courts is particularly bad and would appear to be by the same animal. The appointment of a dog warden would fund itself.

Let’s not worry about offending bad dog owners, it is time to consider the majority and clean the town up. I am a dog owner and I clean up after my pet. Perhaps it would be a good idea for offenders to have their animal removed.

To the responsible dog owners, keep up the good work.

MR AND MRS SMART

Palgrave Road

Great Yarmouth

So good to revisit those glory days

IT was great to see Messrs Cator, Horsey, Forder and Knight, the four stalwarts of Freethorpe FC, in The Mercury on November 26. Having been a referee of the Great Yarmouth and District League during the 1960s and 1970s, it brought back happy memories. I was a frequent visitor to Freethorpe, where the changing room was in the Rampant Horse public house.

A special fixture was the Charity Cup, played over a week at the end of the season, with teams from Halvergate, Beighton, Reedham and Freethorpe, the final being played at Halvergate, where one year the gate was over 400 spectators.

Three great players of that era were Jimmy Hubbard (Beighton), a prolific goal-scorer; Neville Harrison (Reedham), a hard nut to crack at centre-half, and the ever-reliable and creative player, Brian Taylor (Halvergate). After nine years refereeing, I am happy to report I only sent off three players during that time.

TREVOR METCALF

Hatherley

Cheltenham

Late-night event was a wash-out

WHAT a let down the late-night shopping event was in Gorleston High Street. There was no atmosphere at all. We found everybody so miserable.

There was only four children’s rides and about five other stalls spread the whole length of the street from the tree at the top all the way down to Wilkinsons.

I always thought Santa was a jolly old fellow, but this one just handed them a present (not even wrapped). The nicest person in the room was the photographer. For this we paid £3.50 per child. I must say the girls in Fusion were very nice. We came home with two very disillusioned children.

P BLAND

Gorleston

Cat took himself off on the train

RE Blackie the Beach Station Cat. After the Station closed he was adopted by Mr and Mrs D Allen and his name changed to “Binkie”.

Blackie was the “official” cat at Beach Station for approximately 12/14 years and survived and even thrived in a noisy and dangerous environment. He became famous among local railwaymen for “commuting” to Lowestoft by train when there was a good supply of fish available and was able to get back to Beach Station again.

His ample diet allowed him to grow to enormous proportions. The cat came and went to Lowestoft without human intervention but he clearly learned which train to climb aboard. This was in an era when trucks, guard’s vans and engines were open and not isolated. Trains ceased to travel directly between Yarmouth Beach and Lowestoft Station after the Breydon Viaduct was closed in 1953 but fish came into the Yarmouth Station by lorry mostly in the herring season.

No doubt cats were encouraged at many railway stations to keep vermin under control but good natured and friendly cats became favourites with staff and passengers. Note Poem Addlestrop, I believe by Edward Thomas.

Unfortunately, no plans were made for Blackie’s retirement when Beach Station closed in February 1959, but he was taken in by Mr and Mrs Allen where he became a house cat under the name of Binkie and lived for another couple of years.

Jack Stowers told me about Susie, the Vauxhall Station cat who was in the habit of going to sleep in railway trucks and even on axle boxes and was returned to Yarmouth from various stations. The furthest she reached was Liverpool, Lime Street.

The above information, though not of great importance, gives an insight into a less hectic and gentler period of railway history.

A J FAKES

Lawn Avenue

Great Yarmouth


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