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Letters, January 27 2017

PUBLISHED: 21:10 26 January 2017 | UPDATED: 21:10 26 January 2017

Selfishness of people on buses

I was delighted to read about wheelchair user Doug Paulley winning the bus-buggy dispute in court (BBC News 24 online January 18). Mr Paulley brought his case after he was told he could not get on a bus to Leeds in 2012 when a parent with a pushchair refused to move.

I have witnessed on many occasions bus drivers discriminating against wheelchair users by not allowing them to board because a parent with a pushchair refuses to make space. It is no joke a wheelchair user waiting for up to an hour in inclement weather, to board a bus because this situation repeats on subsequent buses because parents with pushchairs refuse to cooperate.

Imagine the wheelchair user also being learning disabled and unable to communicate their frustration of being discriminated against by such inconsideration and selfishness, it’s hardly surprising that this can then lead to challenging behaviour.

It is equally frustrating to see disabled people and elderly struggling to find a seat at the back of a bus (which usually incurs steps) because able-bodied people are selfishly occupying and refuse to give up designated seats at the front. It is also unfair for carers who then have to be assertive because drivers are unwilling to.

Hopefully, we will see more pro-active disability sensitive bus drivers. Sadly I have little faith that much will change, least not in Great Yarmouth!

R HAYES

Bradwell

St George’s gets a large subsidy

Research shows the borough council spent well over £8m on St George’s hall, some of this could have been used to do up the Winter Gardens. Research also shows the council’s hands are tied to it by a subsidy to the tune of over £400,000 a year which is a lot of money for a small theatre, especially when you look at the Regent Theatre in Ipswich with three times more seats and half of the subsidy.

Then they say the council of this town does not throw money away? I beg to differ. It does make me wonder when a councillor stands and says I will do this and that for the town, just how many would do it if there was no allowance?

MICHELLE P SWIFT

Email

Do consultants really know town?

I have today discussed the Town Centre Masterplan with a very helpful and courteous young man who explained some of the issues involved. Sadly I was left with the impression it would have been very much more cost effective if our councillors and council officers had prepared this report before engaging an extremely expensive firm of consultants with little or no local knowledge and a propensity for obscure jargon. They appeared to consider the St Nicholas Minster, probably the oldest building in the town, not important enough to be included in their suggestions for the town centre which evolved around it.

Alarmingly, for some years now we have seen large sums spent on wasteful and useless projects such as the First East fiasco. More recently it was decided to employ a CEO at twice the council’s approved salary. This gentleman’s firm also received fees and I am not aware of any outstanding achievement for the benefit of the town arising from his part-time tenure.

Like most local residents I really want to see Great Yarmouth recognised again as a fine town with a unique history and a prosperous future.

NICK POWNALL

Email

A snowflake and the schools shut

Are we becoming a little soft in these parts at the present time? Schools closed at the first sign of a snowflake; sandbags always at the ready, just in case; having to look left and right before even crossing your legs. We should perhaps learn a lesson from our neighbours north of the border. I am reliably informed that, in the event of a nuclear attack, and only in such an eventuality, Scottish schoolchildren will be given the day off school.

MIKE SPRAGG

Collingwood Road,

Great Yarmouth

Please return my lost bracelet

Can I through your paper ask whoever found my bracelet to please return it as it is very sentimental to me as my late husband bought it for me as a birthday present 20 years ago. I am hoping it will be returned back to me. It was lost in or around the James Paget Hospital on Tuesday, January 17.

Mrs C WIDDOWSON

Gorleston

Editor’s note: If anyone has found the bracelet, or knows if anyone has it, please email anne.edwards@archant.co.uk

Still time to enter music festival

The 47th year of Gorleston Competitive Music Festival is very happy to announce a great uptake for the festival which runs from March 8-11 this year. The closing date for applicants is January 31, so we didn’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to enter as we are having to be very strict on the deadline in order to produce the programme quickly.

The committee running the festival thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the event last year and are looking forward to seeing several familiar faces back in 2017. The festival has such a long history and many talented musicians started their careers in the Festival and have fond memories of the competition.

We encourage everyone at whatever level to come and enjoy the support and encouraging atmosphere of the festival. I know I am preaching to the converted to all musicians and music teachers but I am personally so enthusiastic about the benefits of music. I was moved by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s comments which I heard recently as they struck a strong chord in me: “Music can empower and liberate children which is why it is so important to keep it in our schools. Empowering via the arts means that every penny comes back ten times over. Not everyone becomes a musician or an artist but arts empower everyone and particularly at this time with what is going on in the world politically, there has never been a time when arts and music have been more important”

Come and enjoy the music with us and continue to support this unique opportunity for budding musicians to come together to share music, gain support and encouragement and also learn from people who have been playing for longer than them.

All enquiries via the website gorlestonfestival.org and email h.sayer1@ntlworld.com for information and entry forms

CLARE WINTER

Email

Appeal for storm beach pictures

If any Mercury readers have good clear photos that show flooding, damage or changes to the beach that are specifically in Gorleston and caused by the recent tidal surge; please would they consider giving a copy to the Gorleston-on-Sea Heritage group with permission to use it in future exhibitions and reminiscing sessions? In a few years time the 2017 tidal surge will be part of our past.

Call me on 01493 667709 or email les.cockrill@btopenworld.com .

LES COCKRILL

Email

Wasn’t give the chance to reply

In reply to Lee Sutton’s letter, January 20, UKIP made no comment re the motion to ask Brandon Lewis to attend a public meeting to debate universal credit. If Mr Sutton had learnt anything from his time as a councillor he would know that the union’s question in December council was directed to the leader of the council.

Myself, as opposition leader, was never given an opportunity to answer. However, at full council in January the whole of the UKIP group voted for the motion to ask Brandon Lewis to attend.

It’s a shame the trades union secretary Lee Sutton didn’t give the full facts. UKIP Great Yarmouth are working hard to help people whose lives have been affected by Universal credit and hope the MP will attend the requested meeting.

Cllr KAY GREY

UKIP Group Leader,

Gorleston Ward

Are there no local visionaries?

It is good to see the interest being shown in the consultation on the future of the town centre. Was it necessary to spend over £100k on consultants just to be told what is obvious? Surely our planners, councillors and residents have the ability to come up with ideas? The vision is more of a dream, as how will it be funded and is there a demand for what is proposed?

Much could have been done before now. The litter problem (partly due to a shortage of bins), derelict building frontages and rears, under utilised buildings, homes in some buildings, attention to the depressing bus station which is not mentioned in the study if I recall.

Do we need more cafes and shops when so many buildings are empty? Market Gates has unused planning permission to expand. Many upper floors of town centre buildings are underused, including the former Co-op.

Do we need another cinema which could put at risk the Hollywood and create another unused seafront building? Can we ever fill the empty shops given the changing face of retail? The Arcade and Rows used to be a hive of activity but seem to struggle as businesses come and go and the fire damaged site which took years to rebuild remains empty. The potential to relocate the library seems to have been ignored.

The idea to seek pubs and restaurants for the Quay is interesting but is there potential businesses wanting to relocate or would it be better to convert some to flats? Would it not be better to concentrate on the actual centre?

The King Street car park could readily be improved now with a bit of landscaping and attention to the rear of the buildings. Access to King Street could be improved and parts are hardly a sight to behold.

Will developers fund the proposals? It has taken years to find funds for the waterways and boating lake renovation after the council neglected to properly maintain them. Funding for the Winter Gardens is yet to be found.

The Yarmouth Way office conversion has hardly progressed. The state of the railway station area has been discussed for years - indeed since Victorian times.

The idea for the Conge area is interesting and I wonder if an opportunity was not missed for the area to have been developed instead of Gapton Hall where many High Street stores now are. Road improvements would have been needed and still are after in any case!

So a vision that fails to consider how the proposals can be funded and ignores the present run down situation. We obviously need a permanent ice rink in the centre and more betting shops.

CHRIS WRIGHT

Victoria Street,

Caister

Festive footfall, faux pas made?

Was the lack of footfall over the Christmas and new year holiday period really because there was no ice-rink? I suppose empty department stores, shuttered shops, lousy parking, charity shops, and rubbish had no bearing on the lack of people?

The figures produced by the Town Centre Partnership beg the question has a faux pas been made by the borough council. In the last 20 years the council has hardly made any real change to the town centre just coloured canvas roofing to the market stalls.

Those that frequent the town hall as councillors are responsible, many of our councillors are the same faces that have continually taken decisions that have cost the ratepayers dearly.

It is about time, like out of date food stuff, the old brigade should be voted out then replaced by new blood. Voting to have an election every four years would clean the closet of dead wood.

JOHN L COOPER

Burnt Lane,

Gorleston

Struggle to gain bowls support

We don’t have any cute children or champions to appeal to the general public or the council, but we have just as much right to continue our sport in the venue we have occupied since 1981.

The Marina Centre was built for the benefit of the citizens of Great Yarmouth, young and old alike and the children of Retroskate and the more senior bowlers should not be cast aside to make way for the 30 somethings with disposable income in a fancy gym. We have been battling with the council since September 2015 and are really no further forward, except for having secured ourselves an extension of one year.

We have written to councillors, sent in over 100 letters of support from all over Norfolk, attended and spoken at several council meetings and provided, as requested, a detailed plan of a modified bowls hall going down to four rinks.

We haven’t received any reaction to this plan, or indeed any of our efforts to remain viable at the Marina.

By the end of March we have to put in our applications to the County League so that our two ladies teams and one men’s team can play in the 2017/18 season.

Our members need to know that our future is secure so they can sign up for our ladies, men’s and mixed domestic leagues which run every day of the week.

Over the past two years we have had the support of a couple of councillors and we are very grateful to them for their help, but our struggle has, in the main, fallen on deaf ears.

We need an answer to this ongoing situation asap so we can plan our next move. We understand that the borough council is cash strapped and that they have to consider the options very carefully, but they have been doing that for nearly two years now, surely a decision can be made at the next council meeting?

HELEN FARROW

Chairperson

Great Yarmouth Bowls Club

Stop motorbikes churning beach

With regard to the recent meeting at the borough council regarding keeping dogs on leads over North Denes dunes, which was in my opinion rightly overturned.

The council would be better spending their time and effort monitoring the scooter and motorbikes and quads which are now churning up this beauty spot. I thought this was unlawful.

Ms SIBLEY

Fleggburgh

Thanks for help and protection

Like many residents living in the Southtown/Cobholm area of Great Yarmouth we would also like to thank all the emergency services that came together to provide help and protection during the Friday 13th flood alert. We would especially like to extend our gratitude to the GYBC staff who worked tirelessly for the best part of a day to provide sand for the bags provided and the young men who travelled all the way from Norwich to help fill and transport sandbags to our homes for us more senior citizens.

Mr and Mrs STONE

Southtown,

Great Yarmouth

Flood volunteers were fantastic

I would like to express my sincere gratitude on behalf of myself and my father to the volunteers and staff who were on duty at Cliff Park School when we were evacuated on Friday, January 13.

My father, Ron, has some medical issues and does not cope well with change but the staff at the centre were fantastic. They helped us and made us feel most welcome, being professional, courteous and kind. The food provided was tasty and hot. Nothing was too much trouble for them. We really cannot express in words how grateful we both area.Our heartfelt thanks again to such wonderful people.

CHRISSIE STEWART

Marsh Farm,

Great Yarmouth

Killed officer was a school master

I cannot claim to have been related to any of the special constables killed during the air raid on April 8, 1941 but I recall a conversation I had with the late Percy Trett.

Mr Trett was one of the pupils at Duncan House School who remained when most of the staff and students were evacuated to North Wales. One of the masters who stayed in Yarmouth was Percy Smowton, who was serving as a special constable and was killed in the air raid.

Percy referred to him as “Pussy” Smowton and I asked him why. He said that Pussy and Percy were alliterative but the Good Mr Smowton was in the habit of handing out punishments of 100 lines for misdemeanours and shortcomings. Mr Trett said: “What us boys soon found out was that Pussy was not assiduous in collecting this mark of repentance; hence Pussy.”

I feel it is worth remembering that “real” people with personalities and foibles were killed during the conflict and they should not be just names on memorials.

The local press was constrained by having only small editions because of paper shortages and reporters with transport were rare. Also reports of incidents were censored because it was felt giving too many details away might aid the enemy. Today these news stories would make headlines and give rise to extensive media coverage.

Percy Trett also told me he was evacuated to Scratby during the war and was in the habit of being taken to Yarmouth by a Mrs Blythe who kept a fruit shop in the Arcade. However, on the morning of May 11, 1943, Percy’s birthday, he stayed behind to open his presents. Unfortunately, Mrs Blythe was killed during the air raid by Folke Wulf fighter bombers whereas he survived.

I feel it would be worthwhile asking your readers to collect stories of life and death in the Second World War while we still have eyewitnesses with us to recount them

ANDREW FAKES

Email

Give homeless a bed in town hall

What a disgrace and blot on the reputation of Great Yarmouth when you walk round the town and see all of the sleeping bags in the doorways of shops, in the recesses of the old town wall (near Market Gate toilets) and also within vision of the Town Hall (in the bushes adjacent to the pumping station on the riverside).

Why cannot these so called homeless people be given overnight accommodation in the Town Hall, which I am sure is kept very warm for the councillors and employees who use it during the daytime. The sleepers could clean up after themselves when they leave.

JOHN SPOONER

Cherry Close,

Bradwell

We will still be Brexiting the EU

Following the supreme courts ruling on article 50, I have received numerous calls by supporters and colleagues of VoteLeave, many of them concerned over the court ruling and what happens next.

As the constituency coordinator for Voteleave in Great Yarmouth I’m writing to say that despite this ruling nothing changes. This Conservative government and Prime Minister Teresa May have stated the will of the British people will be carried out!

All you will hear about is appeals, white papers, amendments etc all from MPs and Remoaners that will stop at nothing to thwart and delay Brexit. It is an irony they are elected by the electorate under democracy yet wish to ignore the democratic choice of the people because they will put there own beliefs and personal agendas before the people.

Never in the history of British democracy has this happened but over the next two years it will be common. You will hear Remainiacs claiming to be doing it for the people, others because of parliamentary democracy all basically drivel and with hidden agendas, doing it for there own beliefs in what is the failed and fledgling EU.

Teresa May set out a bold vision for Britain, one that will give us control of our borders, laws and destiny in the world. A vision that restores sovereignty and accountability to parliament and ultimately the people of Britain.

More than 71pc of the people of Great Yarmouth voted to leave the EU, the fifth highest in Britain and it will take two years minimum and Remoaners will bleat constantly but ultimately our Prime Minister and Conservative government will ensure our wishes are carried out in full.

Cllr ANDY GRANT

Bradwell South and Hopton

Pleased to read of cross-party unity

I was surprised and delighted to read in the Mercury, January 20, that all councillors across the political spectrum at a recent borough council meeting had agreed to invite the Great Yarmouth MP, Brandon Lewis, to attend a meeting with his constituents to answer questions about the introduction of the Universal Credit scheme.

We have heard from various sources that the introduction of this scheme locally has caused great hardship.

The facing page of the Mercury ran the headline “Huge rise in the need for food banks.” We have also heard of tenants being evicted because benefits have been delayed and they could not pay their rent. This is undoubtedly a worthwhile cause in which our borough councillors expressed unity.

Unfortunately, when I reached the end of the report, my initial delight turned to dismay and incredulity as I read a comment from Brandon Lewis referring to the request for a meeting as “the Labour Party’s political games.”

It seems to have escaped his notice it was a cross-party invitation to address an issue of huge concern.

Many of Mr Lewis’ constituents are suffering as a result of an experiment with a new benefits system. This is happening in real people’s lives – hardly a game.

I find it very puzzling that Mr Lewis has not accepted the invitation to a meeting as he seems only too willing to publicise his meetings on less contentious issues and is regularly to be seen smiling for the camera.

CERI WALFORD

Hawthorn Crescent

Bradwell

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