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Letters, January 13, 2012

PUBLISHED: 16:02 12 January 2012

People should take any job

I DO believe Mr A Stewart (Letters, January 6), needs to get out a bit more. To say Brandon Lewis is at fault for long term unemployed, he needs to look back at the last government and its stupid policies on immigration and being better off on benefits than going to work.

That’s what is wrong in our society today, we all know the old saying: there are those willing to work and those willing to let them, but a society where you are better off claiming benefits than working can’t be right whoever is in charge.

I think you need to get yourself a bag of chips on Yarmouth market and sit and watch the people my taxes pay for stand about all day doing nothing, just signing on the dotted line each week year in, year out going to the job centre and watching the same faces week in, week out.

How is it that people from other countries can come here and get work? I will tell you why, because they want to work and are prepared to do any job given, how can it be right for people who have not held down any sort of job and paid nothing into society but then claiming money.

These people should take any job offered to them - if they think the job offered to them is beneath them and want a better one, go to college, learn a trade of some sort and then you can be particular in the job you seek. If not, take what’s given.

PS just an example to you Mr Stewart: a local building supply company in the town unfortunately had to cease trading and lay off its trade counter staff. All four of them are now employed elsewhere. Need I say more?

R SEWELL

West Road

Caister

Council leader trying to please

RE: parking fees rise. Talk about trying to please all people all the time. Council leader Steve Ames states in supporting the increase that this is less than a bag of chips.

He then states the increase is a lot of money to some people; then states he does not think it’s a big increase. Talk about facing all ways at the same time.

MAURICE HOOD

Claydon Grove

Gorleston

Verge will be a mud bath again

WELL done to the workers of May Gurney (working on behalf of Norfolk County Council) on the wonderful job they did of top soiling and grass seeding the verge beside the post box and the larger area adjacent to the width restrictor on the Gapton Hall Road, Bradwell.

The next lorry that bounces up the kerbs and drives straight over the restrictor will make it a mud bath again, and again at the post box it has made it more level for the Royal Mail van that sits and waits on the verge until his collection time. It would have made more sense if bollards were placed in these areas first as a deterrent, but then again it gave the workers something to do in the quiet first week after the break.

Name and Address withheld

Buses needed during holidays

I WONDER if our local MP could bring some pressure to bear on First Bus to re-appraise Christmas and New Year holiday services in Great Yarmouth.

While the borough had its own Blue Bus fleet (ie before the First Bus takeover) we enjoyed reasonable access to main bus services and it now appears we are being treated more like a rural area than an all-year-round holiday town. I went to the magnificent Christmas Circus at the Hippodrome on New Year’s Day and it does seem strange our council leaders aren’t putting their foot down to get a basic bus service so local people without cars can get to Christmas/New Year events. I would also like borough councillor Charles Reynolds, as cabinet member for tourism to give this some attention.

In my view, services like the key No 8 bus (Caister-Yarmouth-Gorleston-Paget Hospital) should be running on a bank holiday timetable as well as routes like the XI, linking Lowestoft-Yarmouth-Norwich-Kings Lynn.

Cllr MICHAEL Castle

Northgate and Central ward

Fitting tribute to John Cooper

THE report in the Mercury last week was a very fitting tribute to John Cooper for all that he has done for Great Yarmouth. Together with Dennis Durrant, the outer harbour has been a small but significant area of his diligence. I don’t think many will appreciate the many obstacles John has faced in his search for disclosure.

He has had to face personal threats and public insults, from those that supposedly stand for democracy and freedom to express opinions.

Some may see his step down as a victory and give a sigh of relief but those of us “poisonous negative critics” believe that the truth will prevail - albeit in 28 years when the 30-year embargo on the dealings ends.

Many, like myself, sincerely wish John a restful and happy recovery. The people of Great Yarmouth and surrounding areas owe him a great debt of gratitude, for his stand in questioning these closed door decisions made in our name and at our expense!

KENNETH EKE

email

Tea dance ‘no longer wanted’

DURING a break in the proceedings of our weekly Tuesday afternoon tea dance at Northgate Hospital Social Club, the MC announced, rather glumly, that the Saturday evening dances would in future be curtailed. He hesitated for moment: It’s the bar takings. When the social club arranges birthday parties and similar functions, the bar takings can reach £1,000 and more. We are no longer wanted.”

Driving home later, I felt sad. My three lady dance partners were weeping and wailing, bemoaning the loss of their treasured Saturday evening dance. I remember thinking anyone would have thought the supermarkets have just put their prices up!

That evening, I wondered why a hospital would encourage the drinking of alcohol. Perhaps they should rename the bar. Put a sign over the entrance: Hospital Arms, come on in. I realise of course that the hospital does not run the social club but they must have some influence.

JOHN NICHOLS

Emanuel Avenue,

Gorleston

Cllrs must be transparent

JOHN Cooper fought two councils and the Port Authority for four years in his efforts to unravel why the whole port was given away and residents were now paying for works that had previously been the responsibly of the Port Authority.

He canvassed the Prime Minister, Eric Pickles, government bodies, our MP Brandon Lewis and councillors in Norfolk and Yarmouth with queries related to his researches. He also arranged TV and radio interviews but the cover up of negotiations for the outer harbour were secure in Norfolk Record Office for the next 29 years and neither political party who were both involved, would break the silence. Even Freedom of Information enquiries were blocked.

Unfortunately John now in his mid-70s has health problems which preclude his continuing. I have worked with him for most of four years and know just how dedicated he was. He researched the internet relentlessly and followed up every possible avenue but always there was this blank wall.

John would never take no for an answer and didn’t suffer those who were stopping progress. He could be blunt when required but to his friends had a heart of gold - he certainly was no troublemaker, but like myself keen to scrutinise council decisions that didn’t represent value for the community. Both of us were congratulated for our campaign by many residents but unfortunately back up was not forthcoming. Our local paper the Mercury are to be congratulated for the letter space we have been given.

The politicians may have won a battle but the war certainly isn’t finished. When the negotiations are released in 2040 and available to all I’m sure there will be at least one researcher who will work to solve the mysteries because all John’s researches are now also in an archive to enable the questions to be answered. We certainly won’t be here but those involved in this fiasco will be shown for their flawed negotiations. Politicians like to have a legacy!

It seems democracy isn’t very high on the list of people’s interests and they are content to let councils do what they will, right or wrong, just moaning to others. To be an elected representative you mostly need to be a member of a political party to get their backing and organisation behind you. The job now pays quite good money if you progress up the ladder and you don’t need any particular qualifications apart from party loyalty.

This is where our democracy starts to fall down. At the head of the party in power is the leader with his cabinet of a handful of proven faithfuls who are responsible for most decisions.

How many constituents know their own councillor? Does he or she ever call or try to find out your take on things except when we follow that great tradition of every four years? Do you know his qualifications to make decisions which can involve millions of pounds? Most people don’t care! There are no longer meaningful public meetings where you can weigh up his character and ask questions because so deep are we into this political concept.

Politicians need to be looking at what is happening in our country and fast. People have seen how many in politics behave. People no longer believe they are the most important part of a “democratic” system. They don’t feel they can make a difference because so much is done against their wishes and shrouded in secrecy. Councillors must come out into the open more and be transparent in their decisions. The only way this will ever happen is by all of us taking an interest and telling councillors what we don’t agree with. We saw a recent example when people power stopped the council making a no brain decision on Gorleston seafront. This was because over 2,000 residents were saying no.

DENNIS DURRANT

Brett Avenue,

Gorleston

No help after redundancy

FOLLOWING your letters last week about people out of work, I was made redundant in July 2011 after only being with the company five months. When I tried to sign on I was amazed to be told I was not entitled to a penny as I hadn’t paid enough national insurance.

I have worked in this country on the books for 34 years doing between 50-60 hours a week. What a joke! I tried to claim fuel for my car to go to Norwich for an interview and couldn’t claim a penny. Where is the encouragement to find work? They did tell me in October 2011 that they would review my case in March 2012.

I have now got a job as and when, so I’m obviously not paying enough national insurance now. If I wasn’t paying enough doing 50 hours a week I’m certainly not doing a few hours a week. If I get laid off again I will be in the same predicament. The system stinks.

DAVID SKIPPER

Lowestoft

Address real jobless issues

I THINK recent correspondents are right to criticise our MP’s response to the chronic unemployment problem in the Great Yarmouth area. It is not entirely Mr Lewis’s fault though. He is not, after all, from this area and won’t be aware that we have had this all before. In the recession of the 1990s Great Yarmouth had at one point the second highest unemployment in Britain, just behind Middlesborough, and was never better than sixth for most of that decade. That was out of 216 “travel to work” areas - some claim to fame!

Privatisation and the global nature of the economy are factors that ordinary people can do nothing about but, in my view, there are also several local culprits who exacerbate the problem:

Yarmouth College should have been a key player in providing quality skills to the unemployed through short courses in engineering and construction. However, the college brochure makes clear that these courses are only available if you are already employed in that field. Presumably your employer then foots the bill of several hundred pounds, a sum most unemployed don’t have.

Another example, a course in computer aided design was advertised but, after interviews and enrolment, applicants were told at the last moment it wouldn’t be run. This happened several years running. The reason given was “not enough interest” yet the same course moved to Lowestoft and had so much interest that a second class had to be started. This however doesn’t carry any concessionary fees so again the unemployed are excluded.

Employment agencies are another local problem. They seem to have proliferated on the back of mass unemployment. It only takes a couple of these in a town to monopolise the few job vacancies that occur. They then decide who they will register on their books and who will be put forward for these jobs. Transferable skills don’t come into it and the process is subject to a pseudo-science of “profiling”, often by computer. If you ask where the jobs are you are refused. This happened to me despite a company clearly having difficulty over several months in finding workers to do soldering assembly. I didn’t have up to date skills but had some previous experience and could have got up to speed rapidly. I was unable to make my own case to the company.

The local Jobcentre is no help as it ignores local conditions. Try and get the latest unemployment figures from the Jobcentre in Yarmouth and you will meet with either “don’t know” or be told to put your request in writing and explain why you need to know.

What vacancies do occur are over-subscribed many times as reports in the Mercury have made clear. Local businesses waste a lot of time sifting applications from people unqualified or inexperienced for the work but who are pressured into applying anyway by the Jobcentre under threat of draconian sanctions.

There cannot be enough jobs in Britain for those who want them, due to privatisation and globalisation. I think the Government should stop blaming those at the bottom and address the real causes of unemployment which Yarmouth people are only to aware of from their previous hard experience.

R F WARD

Address withheld

First class treatment at JPH

I have recently spent some time in the James Paget Hospital and underwent a nasty, painful operation to relieve me of some gallstones and the attention I received from the nurses, doctors and surgeons and in fact all the staff from the cleaners through to the porters was in fact second to none. No, I will say absolutely first class.

Everywhere I found was lovely and clean and the bed was changed regularly. I cannot fault anything about my stay of five days and nights so I would say to these inspectors going into the hospital, as an ill patient that need helps and care that when you finally come out again fit and well, free from the pain then make your judgements, not just after the few hours you spend looking for trouble.

I agree it does need a body of people to keep an eye on things because in all walks of life things can get slack and even dirty but in the case of the James Paget Hospital I can assure you and anybody else that this is not the case so please ease off a bit.

All this publicity is surely not necessary considering the hundreds of people that the hospital attends to every day of the week with staff covering 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, every year. Yes, things can get left behind but certainly not at the James Paget or at least not at my experience.

FRED SYMONDS

Caister-on-Sea

Keep up good work at JPH

I HAVE read with interest the comments concerning the unacceptable conditions surrounding the JPH, therefore it was with great trepidation I was admitted to this hospital as an inpatient approximately three weeks prior to Christmas. I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of your papers reporting on the subject and having been a patient two years previous, would have at that time maybe have agreed with your some of your comments regarding the care of elderly patients, and it’s good that an investigation was instigated.

However I wish to report that my stay in December 2011 was a contradiction to any report I had read or heard; my treatment, care, not least consideration, appeared to be top priority to all staff in my ward, as it was for other patients in the ward. I was discharged just before Christmas and left hospital feeling everything concerning my wellbeing had been taken into account.

The food had improved considerably, and the choice acceptable, but it was never any bother for staff to organise a patients request for an alternative meal. Also the staff assisted patients with meals who were unable to feed themselves.

As there has been so much negativity involving the JPH I believe I should put the record straight, and to show if negligence has been present in the past, it appears the new measures that have been put into place are working. Keep up the good work.

I was a patient in ward 4 medical section, and obviously am only speaking of my experience in that ward, I like to think the rest of the hospital is now following the same pratices, if so I am sure it won’t be long before our hospital regains it’s status as one of the best hospitals in our area.

BRENDA HORSEPOOL

Belstead Avenue,

Caister-on-Sea

Legion enjoys a good parade

IN defence of the Royal British Legion I would like to answer Mr Cook’s letter (January 6) re what became of the Army parade. Last year we had several parades where the legion attended, not least of all Armed Forces Week in June. On the 21st the flag was raised outside the town hall to a crowd of approximately one dozen people.

A parade by dignitaries and various groups including the RBL was also on for a march to what was then St Nicholas’ Church, again, very few people attended. Also D Day was remembered at St George’s Park with the mayor and mayoress, and all armed forces outnumbering the public. Later on in the year, the Battle of Britain service was held at St Nicholas which were all attended by the RBL.

Mr Cook has got his facts straight when he refers to memberships getting older, and not a lot of young blood joining but in defence of the RBL again we have affiliated two groups this year. The Sea Cadets and the Rangers.

Perhaps Mr Cook would like to get involved with organising a parade; it takes a lot of effort and time, not least to work with Yarmouth Police who are very busy at the time of year Mr Cook speaks of. However, if a parade was organised “by the people and the town hall” you can be sure the RBL will be there every step of the way. I would respectfully point out also that it has nothing to do with the cost as we are all charity workers providing welfare and assistance to all men and women of the armed forces.

The RBL enjoys a good parade as witnessed at St George’s Park for the Remembrance Sunday services. May I finally say Mr Cook, I would appreciate you not condemning us for what we haven’t done, but respect us for what we do achieve.

P WILLIAMS

Chairman

RBL Great Yarmouth

MP should try being jobless

MY sister has been out of work for a good few months. She has chased so many jobs only to be told she is too old or has no experience. She has made phone calls leaving messages time after time but no-one ever gets back to her. Now she is being told she has to do training. Training for what? You can train all you like, but it’s a waste of time when there are no jobs out there for someone who is almost 60 years old. Has Brandon Lewis ever been out of work? Does he know what it’s like living on Jobseekers’ Allowance? I don’t think so. Maybe he could take a month out of sitting in his warm office and try it. Give up all the luxuries he’s used to, only have heating on at certain times of the day because you can’t afford the bills… the list goes on. This would certainly bring him back to the real world.

C A BALLS

Bradwell

Council silent on access road

FURTHER to the letter from Pauline Lynch in last week`s Mercury, Great Yarmouth Borough Council have remained silent regarding the reasons for keeping this public access road closed despite the two letters from me on the 2nd and 16th December 2011, John Cooper`s excellent letter December 9, and Pauline`s letter - all published in the Mercury. This question was also put to the panel at the public meeting at Gorleston Pavilion Theatre on November 21; a response to other outstanding questions from this meeting was published in an open letter from council managing director Richard Packman in the Mercury on December 9 but it did not contain any response this unanswered question?

MIKE KING

email

John Cooper like the Lone Ranger

I AM sure that many people reading last week’s Mercury will be sorry to hear that John Cooper, Great Yarmouth’s Crusader is hanging up his sword. We have read over many, many months his questions to Great Yarmouth Borough Council and EastPort about the harbour, and land given to EastPort. The most frustrating part in all this, is that Mr Cooper has been like the Lone Ranger, with his trusted Tonto, Dennis Durant, fighting our corner week in and week out without an answer, well, seemingly full answers to any of his questions. I am sure, that the Council, led in the past by Barry Coleman, and now Stephen Ames, along with EastPort, will be cheering, dancing on the tables and popping champagne. Never in the annals of this fair town has so much been owed by so many to one man. I am sure Mr Cooper must have felt at times he was hitting a brick wall with chopsticks. All I can say, as someone who has only known him a short time, is that he is a gentleman, toff and scholar. May the rest of his retirement be a pleasant and healthy one, and thank you.

DAVID BROWN

Yallop Avenue

Gorleston

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