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Letters, December 26 2014

PUBLISHED: 22:33 23 December 2014

A47 white lines ‘daft’ suggestion

The Mercury, December 12, referred to the problems of the so-called Acle Straight, one person making the daft suggestion it should have double white lines for it’s full length. Can you imagine the turmoil that would make with a slow moving tractor at the head of a traffic queue.

County Councillor Mick Castle wants full dualling, a sledgehammer to crack a nut in effect, but he didn’t mention where the £84m pounds to pay for it is coming from; a figure previously mentioned as the likely cost, and rising! And what benefit will dualling bring? It will allow motorists to arrive at Yarmouth two minutes earlier, only to find a backlog of traffic trying to enter the town or head south over the Breydon Bridge and beyond.

I travel the ‘Straight’ every Saturday in order to enjoy a meal with friends at The White Swan in Yarmouth and I find most vehicles already travel in the 50-60mph slot with very little overtaking, if any at all. In fact it is quite unusual for any overtaking to take place, most drivers are content with a steady 50-60mph.

One thing is certain, the road does not cause accidents, only the bad, inconsiderate, careless or stupid drivers do that.

DOUG FULCHER

Thorpe St Andrew

Age was there when needed

Re: County council help to Age UK. In this case I believe Norfolk County Council did exactly the right and correct thing; to assist one of the best charities there is anywhere. They were there for me, an 84 year old pensioner, who had suffered a lot of abuse, lasting six years. When I was hounded by a group of parking special collectors for a parking fine I had long since paid and they threatened my credit rating, their volunteer solicitor came to my aid. It was my pleasure to give to their appeals, but sadly I have had to cut right down due to cost of living and living on a basic state pension. We need to do all we can to make sure that Age UK do not go into bankruptcy.

I do not love any politician, but George Nobbs did the right thing, and so did the Norfolk Council.

BRIAN CONWAY

Manor Close,

Gorleston

Jobcentre ‘stick’ is necessary

I would like to thank Judith A Daniel for her words of wisdom on the issue of sanctions. However my letter was misunderstood in several parts. I would never generalise anyone on benefits as each circumstance is different.

However I will stand by my comments on sanctions. For as long as there is a significant minority of people on benefits that remain feckless and do everything they can to remain benefit dependent then the stick will always be necessary, spend an hour in our job centre you will see why sanctions exist!

With reference to a quote from the book To Kill A Mocking Bird, I myself, family and friends have all used the welfare state and then gone straight back to work when possible. In 2009 when work in my two businesses dried up I ended up in a cafe, a Christmas temp job, in and out of agencies and now have two jobs on minimum wage so I do have an insight into hard times.

I have no qualms for people who fall on hard times however I am a firm believer in working! There are issues with low pay and zero hour contracts but working should always be an end goal for those that can.

Unfortunately no matter what reforms are carried out innocent people will be sanctioned and mistakes made but not on the scale quoted by the left. I have plenty of time for people where mistakes are done. However for as long as idleness remains then so must sanctions.

I wonder what the left would do with people who refuse to work or change? Tickling them with a feather or giving them more money as the previous government did, clearly didn’t work!

ANDREW GRANT

Fairway,

Caister

Truth seems to be first casualty

Having gone along to the Labour rally in the Market Place in Great Yarmouth recently, I am very fearful of what will happen in the war running up to the general election as it bears out that truth seems to be its first casualty. The most heartening aspect was that the rally, small though it was, had to move along because they were being drowned out by the Salvation Army’s carols.

We were subjected to someone on the megaphone who knows well the principles of advertising: constant repetition whether or not it is true, wise, or fair. It is obvious the left is very afraid of losing badly at the election.

Labour poses as the only party that can save us from some mythical enemy (the UKIP they portray bears no relationship to what it is). The constant refrain of racism is designed to frighten people. This shows the double standards they have for challenging UKIP over a leaflet that is actually true.

Furthermore, glibly to call people racists without any proof is a slander, I submit, actionable in court. It is rich too to accuse others of racism in order to silence them and yet spit poison about Israel, a cause that the left once espoused. Many Jews are now calling this covert racism.

They accuse UKIP of causing the cuts in the county council expenditure; this is either a lie or at least disingenuous. The budget is inherited from the former Conservative administration, Labour is in the coalition now running the council. This means they are performing breathtaking mental gymnastics of being responsible for something for which they are not responsible – yes, you did read that right.

Labour have betrayed the hopes of their supporters as well as the benefit of the country. The refuse to allow any democracy on the EU in a referendum, even though no-one under 57 has ever been allowed any say. The left it seems claims the right to decide policy as well as the right to silence all opposition to its narrow views.

STEPHEN CONWAY

Victoria Road,

Gorleston

School trustees have total say

So, the running of Stradbroke Primary School in Gorleston has been sold off to a private Limited Company known as Inspiration Trust Ltd.

The company directors, otherwise known as “trustees”, have total say over our little school. They are all described on their website as businessman as their occupation, though two are also a barrister and entrepreneur. The CEO appears to be the only one with any education credibility.

The first act was the moving of our previous head teacher, then re-employing her in another role. I don’t expect that came cheap. But what do the directors care, we can’t get rid of them.

Their second act was to write to parents telling them of the changes and assuring them they would be keeping the “Stradbroke” name. After 138 years how kind of them. I don’t think they realised how condescending that came across. But we can’t get rid of them.

Their third was to get rid of the much-loved “Stradbroke” smiley face logo and replace it with their own corporate one that means nothing except to the directors. An offshoot of this change is a new design of uniform which parents have to find the money for.

Two items are being supplied by the school but all the rest such as trousers/skirts/shirts etc must be found before the January term. This coming just before Christmas when it is well known all families with small children are going to be particularly hard up. But what do the Directors care, and we can’t get rid of them.

When it was council-run you could at least vote out those in control but now we have no such leverage. As far as I can see this disgraceful piece of political ideology was just so the secretary of state could get central control of education. This is a very dangerous act from a civil rights perspective. State control of education has been tried before, notably by Hitler, Stalin and Chairman Mao.

The carrot that appears to be offered was additional funding and flexibility. Still we will not be surprised that while there is clearly money for political dogma there is none left for nurses and teachers who have not had a meaningful inflation pay award for 5-6 years.

I wonder where we will all be if things start to go wrong. Before, the council would have stepped in quickly to sort things out. But now you have to rely on the directors. No doubt they will tell you they are deeply committed to the Inspiration Trust Ltd and guarantee an amount of money they must pay out if they fail. I can confirm their website says this is true.

If they are not as good as they think they are then they will have to stump up cash. But you still can’t get rid of them.

PATRICK SMITH

Lowestoft Road,

Gorleston

Firefighters need a fairer deal

Last week I, along with firefighters from Norfolk and across the country descended on Parliament to lobby our MP to try and get the government to kick out the pension they have proposed for firefighters which is unfit for purpose.

It wants firefighters to carry out their role until they are 60. Our job is different from any other. We rush in when everyone else is going the other way, with breathing apparatus on our backs, into rooms that are 1500C to put out fires and rescue people. We cut people out of cars so paramedics can save their lives, we rescue people from floods and a myriad of other lifesaving jobs.

We cannot take it easy because we are getting older or only use equipment that is not too heavy. We have to do what needs to be done in a moment’s notice, we can’t sit down for five minutes to get or breath back because every second counts.

It is a job where we can and do die whilst trying to save the public that we serve. All this was explained time and time again to the MPs and we used a report they commissioned Dr Williams to carry out.

Dr Williams states firefighters will not be able to achieve fitness standards that fire services use across the country between the ages of 55 to 60 because with age fitness diminishes, it’s a natural process. This being the case then under the proposed changes firefighters would be dismissed under capability with no pension until the national pension age is reached. Is this any way to treat those that spend their lives serving the public?

The fire minister has stated over and over again that firefighters wouldn’t be dismissed without a pension but Labour, Tory and Lib Dem MPs say there wasn’t a cast iron guarantee.

This government has shown their true colours by condemning us to a pension that isn’t fit for purpose. They are not concerned about the people they represent or the safety of the public that they are supposed to serve.

We will not forget the betrayal that has happened.

PETE GREEVES

Brigade Chairman

The Fire Brigades Union

We have always been overlooked

With 2015 almost here it is an opportune time to take stock of where we are in terms of the regeneration of the town and the infrastructure improvements Great Yarmouth needs to fulfil its economic potential.

Far too often in the past we here in Yarmouth and Lowestoft have been overlooked when it comes to the prioritising of road improvements for our sub-region. Government needs to acknowledge that there are 200,000 people here on this bit of the coast and that our infrastructure needs are every bit as important as for the 250,000 in Greater Norwich.

We all welcome the announcements about A47 dualling being programmed for the Burlingham and Easton stretches and remodelling of the Vauxhall Roundabout junction in Yarmouth.

Once again we were let down when it came to the Acle Straight with merely a pledge of a “safety scheme” and the suggestion this might even remove the need for dualling altogether. I am glad Norfolk County Council voted overwhelmingly on December 15 to reaffirm its strong support for the dualling of the Acle Straight and to do all in its power to ensure it is included in the Government’s Highways Programme for the next tranche of A47 improvements.

The resolve this time to seek to designate the narrow strip of grazing land between the existing road and the Yarmouth to Acle railway line as a “transport corridor” to accommodate the new carriageway - and to work with other agencies to get an alignment agreed for the Acle Roundabout end of the road that takes account of the sensitivities of the Damgate Marshes SSSI nearby - represent a major step forward. Until now it has been all too easy for a succession of governments to “sidestep” doing any dualling because there wasn’t an agreed line for the road. With the support of Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP and Conservative councillors this time our aim over the next year or two must be to progress this work so that we have a “shovel ready” scheme that is ready to go once funding is available.

We need also to take a strategic approach to the third river crossing from the Harfrey Roundabout into the South Denes.

That has an agreed line and homes have been compulsorily purchased. What is required there is £5m to progress the design work for the new bridge so that that project too is ready to take forward as funding becomes available.

It also needs “biting the bullet” and coming clean with the public that such a bridge is likely to require tolling to make it affordable.

There is never enthusiasm for paying tolls but people need to know that there hasn’t been a major bridge project in recent years that hasn’t involved tolling and Yarmouth isn’t likely to be the exception. We need as a community to be more assertive. Why should we accept a lower specification of road here than is being enjoyed on the newly opened stretch of the A11?

MICK CASTLE

County Councillor

Yarmouth North and Central

Thanks a million for picking me up

I would like to thank the people who helped pick me up on Tuesday afternoon last week in Gorleston High Street. I hardly hit the ground and you were there and a chair as well. Thanks a million and a Happy Christmas to all of you.

JUNE WILLISON

Newnham Green,

Gorleston

Grateful for the many donations

May we through your letters column thank everyone, individuals and companies alike who have kindly supported us over the past year, either by way of generously sponsoring/attending events or making donations, enabling us to raise cash which will be earmarked to be spent in this area in providing vital cancer support

We wish all concerned a very Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Macmillan Cancer Support Committee

Thanks for help for our mother

After suffering a few falls over the last few weeks, our mother has now entered permanent residential care at Abbeville Residential Care Home on Wellesley Road. As people will know, events like this are very emotional for all involved. We want to express our public gratitude to some key people who have made this transition as painless as possible and who have shown extreme professionalism, extraordinary patience and excellent care.

Community matron Alison Cannon, social worker Tim Sims, the team at Norfolk 1st Support, Yare Care Alarm Service and the wonderful team at Abbeville - Karen, Pat, Chloe and all the carers who provide an excellent care service.

JANE BROOKS and CAROLINE HARDY

Gorleston/Belton

Reduce the rate not increase it

It no doubt confuses most people in Great Yarmouth why the council sees fit to require the business community to fork out another tax on the spurious notion they need to promote the town. The centre of the town is becoming a ghost centre as more shops and businesses move out. It is about time the council realised you don`t increase taxes if you are trying to promote the town.

What brainless wonders were responsible for such a moronic decision? To promote the town the council needs to reduce the business rate to encourage trade. It is far too high. What they are trying to do is kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

One could wonder whether those in the council are in touch with reality. It would appear they are not.

Perhaps the council might see the light one day and cancel such a ridiculous tax. They should also rethink what they plan to do to encourage traders and people to come back into Yarmouth to shop.

M KEMP

Email

Ice rink idea for the Waterways

As I wander through the loneliness which is the Waterways of North Drive, Great Yarmouth. drained of its water and pristine in its freshly-scrubbed look, and this on the day of the winter solstice, I suddenly imagine a picturesque and inviting ice rink crowded with young and old alike enjoying the winter festivities. A business opportunity for future years perhaps?

MIKE SPRAGG

Collingwood Road,

Great Yarmouth

Sleigh delight 
at cash raised

May I take this opportunity to thank all those people who have supported the Santa’s Sleigh Appeal for 2014 as organised by the members of Great Yarmouth Lions Club.

In addition to delighting hundreds of children with Santa’s visits I am pleased to announce the club has raised more than £6,000 for the charity account.

The club has donated more than £10,000 this past year to the local community in the form of larger donations to recognized charities together with smaller amounts to organisations and individuals sometimes in the form of sponsorship. The club has also supported worthy causes further afield through the Lions Clubs International Foundation.

Great Yarmouth Lions Club has been established for more than 60 years and was one of the first clubs to be formed in Great Britain. Members are proud to be part of the world’s largest service organisation. The club raises funds throughout the year to support its charity work with further details to be found on the website. New members are always welcome.

The Santa’s Sleigh committee would like to thank Yarmouth Police for their support in keeping the Sleigh on the road and also Kingswood Conservatories for providing a stable for Santa’s reindeer during the appeal.

The club would like to thank all your readers for their support throughout the year and wish everyone a Happy New Year for 2015. For more information on Lions’ activities in the Yarmouth area, contact the secretary on 0845 833 9609.

GRAHAM GIBBINS

Secretary

Anyone help in finding Yvonne?

Can anyone help me with my request please? I am trying to get in touch with a lady who used to work at Lloyds Pharmacy in Bradwell. I know her name is Yvonne but that is all. The reason being that over the past years I have been keeping contact at Christmas time with her daughter Kim and her partner Chris in Cumbria, but recently I lost Kim’s address.

I have already heard from Kim but I cannot reply to her. If you read this Yvonne, could you please contact me on 01493 661792.

ALAN MARSHAM

Email

Kind man who found my purse

I would like to thank the man who handed in my purse at Rainbow Bradwell on Tuesday around lunchtime. I had just realised it was missing and was rushing back in carrying my baby in the car seat with my four and a half year old in tow.

He stopped me and asked if I had lost my purse. He must have known I was in a panic. He took me to a lady in the store who gave it back to me but turning around found he had disappeared. I did see him again as he drove off when I was back at my car and waved at him.

I’d like to have given him something for his honesty and kindness. It restores my faith that there are still some nice people out there. Hope him and his family have a wonderful Christmas. You truly deserve it

GEMMA VINCENT

Bradwell

Together everyone achieves more ...

A “without prejudice” letter from Mr Phil Thompson, dated December 6 and which arrived on my desk last week, I am happy to respond to him openly.

Like you, I am often frustrated that more could be done to encourage our local economy, jobs and wealth. The tourism industry for years has often been criticised for lack of vision and investment.

Business rates received by our local council are not retained in the borough, merely passed to central government for them to decide on our local handout. We are all too aware at the squeeze on local finances which is limiting their economic support.

Tourism turnover throughout just our borough is calculated to some £530m a year of which some 62pc (some £325m) is retained in the borough through business to business spending, employment and business owners.

Some 30pc of our local economy is supported by the tourism pounds that arrive on the A47, A12, A149 and the railway.

The new tourism and business improvement area and levy is an innocent scheme aimed at ensuring tangible measures are taken to grow the local economy and paid for by the same businesses that will benefit from growth.

Tourism is identified as having good potential for growth and due to its service nature, a very direct impact on creating jobs.

Hence a group of unpaid volunteers have been working to bring this scheme to fruition in conjunction with the support of the local council and councillors.

There are well over 200 business improvement districts throughout the UK including ones in Yarmouth Town Centre, Norwich and Lowestoft as well as Bournemouth, Southend and Southport to name a few. Other tourism destinations are currently working on a BID and so we must respond to the challenge they are and will bring to influencing both staying and day visitors to our locality.

We applaud your continued business investment along with many, many others currently investing millions around the borough, particularly in holiday parks, pubs and hotels. Our aims are to support those investments by helping to increase footfall.

Whilst we recognise that individual businesses invest in their own marketing, the attraction of returning and new visitors does also depend on the reputation of our locality, some would call it our brand. Hence all the projects that will be funded by the BID are focused on that objective.

Whilst the current board is made up of those individuals that were enthusiastic and prepared to give up their time to make things happen, there will be elections of a new board based upon sector groups including out of town retail and Regent Road, in the next 12/18 months.

If you wish to become involved you would be most welcome. In fact I recollect that you hosted one of our sector group meetings.

To assure you of due process I have asked our consultants, Mosaic Partnership, to confirm our compliance with the relevant legislation. I believe that you have at least three properties on the rateable value list, all of which are listed on our database.

My comment that we expected some reaction is based upon the experience gained by our consultant in the 60-plus BIDs that he has worked 
on, in that we should expect some 
5pc of businesses to have disregarded our consultation documents, regarding them as circular mail 
of no relevance to their own businesses.

In fact up to last week we have had 25 written requests (2pc) for further information but already received support by way of the levy payment from over 150 businesses.

Too often do we hear that the infamous “they” should do something. Now “we” are. Our motto: TEAM – together everyone achieves more.

DAVID MARSH

Interim Chairman

Greater Yarmouth Tourism and Business Improvement Area

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