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Letters, March 30, 2012

PUBLISHED: 16:35 29 March 2012

No makeover - we need trains

OUR MP Brandon Lewis is still going on about the rail station. The railway is privatised and there is no cost benefit in the rail company investing in the station. In any case, it is the whole station approach that is a disgrace and needs landscaping and a makeover.

The suspension bridge should not be refurbished but re-opened to cars to relieve the A47. It is crazy to force railusers and Asda cars onto a congested main road.

Likewise, what is the point of having a glamorous station if it just served as a branchline? Many visitors used to come from the East Midlands whose trains stop at Norwich. Norwich-Cambridge trains also stop at Norwich and do not even connect.

Yarmouth is left isolated and left with an hourly shuttle service. The railway station needs more than a makeover it needs trains to somewhere!

CHRIS WRIGHT

Victoria Street,

Caister

Vote to make things change

IN reply to Pauline Lynch’s letter in last week’s Mercury, she states that nothing will change after the elections. Of course nothing will change if people still vote for the same councillors to be re-elected.

If people in Great Yarmouth want change in the running of the council then they must vote for independent candidates to rid the council of professional councillors.

If more independent councillors were to be elected, I am sure the council would be more open and accountable to its constituents, but if the voters vote in the same councillors as before then they get what they deserve and nothing will change.

The trouble is that people vote for colour, either red or blue, instead of voting for the candidate who would really be representative of the people.

It really does not matter where the councillor lives, it is how Yarmouth Council is run that is the main criteria. It needs to be transparent in all its dealings and not be run by a few in cabinet, as with the proposed merger with South Holland which is being pursued by certain members even though it is a highly contested by the people.

But will councillors listen to the people? Of course not.So the power is in your hands once again to use your vote.

COLIN ALDRED

Groomes Close,

Hopton

Pedestrianisation

the safe option

IN the Midweek Mercury last week, there was a fine article by Kevin Huggins of Fusion about traffic in Gorleston High Street. The problems mentioned will not go away and it is essential to protect the pedestrians.

For the past three years I have been negotiating with Norfolk police about speeding in the area. Last week I received a letter stating officers had conducted 11 checks in February and the highest speed recorded was 33mph. This is incorrect and can only be explained because policemen wear highly reflective clothing, which encourages drivers to slow down.

The letter concludes by saying they will not be allocating any further officers to conduct speed enforcement checks, for the foreseeable future!

The proposal by Kevin Huggins to make High Street and High Road one way is a step in the right direction, but this could lead to even greater speeds. The solution is to create the High Street as a pedestrian area. This was suggested a few years ago, but shopkeepers were against it, fearing loss of trade! Have they not visited the many towns and villages where this system has been carried out and seen the benefits?

The loss of parking on High Street would be approximately 20 cars, but the additional pedestrians would be increased considerably and people would be safer.

Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft have very good examples, where pedestrians have priority over traffic. If the one way system is introduced, then calming measures would have to be installed, such as slightly raised pedestrian crossings every 200 metres.

Hopefully the authorities will take note of Mr Huggins “strong views” because the time has come for Gorleston to join the 21st century. Traffic is here to stay and it will get worse, not better, in the future.

MARTIN DODD

High Road,

Gorleston

Driver should feel ashamed

TO the driver of the white car who smashed my driver side wing mirror of my black Fiesta on Wednesday, March 21 at midday on Market Road in Burgh Castle – not only am I £185 out of pocket but you didn’t even have the decency to stop and offer any kind of apology – shame on you.

MICHELLE RIX

Nile Road,

Gorleston

Mobile phones

in constant use

I HAD occasion to have to visit a consultant at the James Paget Hospital last Thursday and could not help but notice the number of staff wandering around the hospital with personal phones stuck in their ears.

When I commented to the receptionist I was told that these were internal phones. Umm, do the communicators the porters use look the same as the ‘everyday’ mobile phones? Or do the nursing staff use internal communicators when going on and off duty? Above the doors leading from the reception area it quite clearly asks everyone, not a select few, to turn off any mobile phones.

When I repeated my question to said receptionist she then chose to ‘switch off’ and prefered to ignore me. Oh well, it’s a sign of the times.No wonder the Paget gets so much bad publicity. If mobile phones do affect the various instruments and other equipment, why are the rules not more vigorously enforced? If mobile phones do not affect the equipment, then why waste money creating and having these signs displayed. Oh well, back into the cupboard..

IAN WHARTON

via email

We want our views recognised

ON October 25, the House of Commons debated having a referendum on our continued membership of the European Union. The debate was conceded because more than 100,000 people signed an e-petition on the Government website.

In spite of the fact that the vote would not be binding on the Government to take any action, all three parties ordered their members to vote against a referendum. There were 111 patriotic members who defied the whip, but Brandon Lewis the Conservative Member for Great Yarmouth was not one of them. Not only have we been denied the referendum that was promised by all three parties before the General Election, but MPs have been refused a free vote on a petition from the electorate. The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties behaved in a dishonourable way by steamrollering through their infatuation with all things EU.

I would normally prefer to keep local and national politics separate and I support a vote for the candidate and not the party. However, we are now approaching the local elections on May 3, and this will be our first opportunity to express disapproval of the Westminster tactics. This is a time to override party loyalties and send a message that we, the electorate, like to have our views recognised too.

WILLIAM WEST

Church Close,

Caister

So much needs to be done

I CAN’T believe the council has wasted £584,000 on the screens fiasco when money is needed for so many other projects. We lost our ancient Jetty because of lack of money. The North Denes Boating Lake is in a terrible state and the team attempting to clean it up should be applauded, however, the maintenance of this site should be down to the council, but alas again there is no money. Also isn’t it about time our iconic town hall clock was repaired? It’s been stopped at 12 o’clock so long that one wonders if the council is waiting for Cinderella’s fairy godmother to wave her magic wand and mend it!

PAULINE LYNCH

Bradwell

Have the fairies

rubbed out signs?

I RECENTLY received a leaflet from the North Ward Conservative Party. In it, county councillor Tom Garrod states: “Working with the transport department and local residents, new signs etc have been painted in the road as well as the 30mph limit being extended northwards beyond the Jellicoe Road traffic lights, so that tourists know they are entering a residential area.”

Is there something wrong with my eyes or have the fairies been overnight and rubbed the sign out? The North Yarmouth Road Safer Group has been campaigning since 2010 for this work to be done, and Mr Ken Bloodworth has worked very hard trying to get some results.

All I can ask is for county councillor Tom Garrod not to take praise for this, when and if it ever gets done.

Name and Address withheld

Hard work for last five months

I APOLOGISE for being unavail-able for comment, but I was attending meetings in an attempt to secure funding to save Smart Kids OK from closure.

Your report implies that closure is due to the inability of the setting to respond to Ofsted’s inspection. In fact this is far from the case. There have been many changes implemented since the Ofsted inspection in October 2011. Indeed many of the points raised were immediately remedied and systems in place even before Ofsted published the report in December 2011, some three months later. The deputy manager and now acting manager have worked tirelessly for the last five months to raise standards and implement new systems to address all of the concerns raised by Ofsted. The Smart Kids OK setting is run and managed by the trustees of the charity Autistic Way, who issued the press release earlier in the month. Both Ofsted and Norfolk County Council have commented on the enthusiasm and commitment of the current staff following the change in management and their ability to meet standards. In addition Smart Kids OK have met all the points raised in the report, as detailed on Ofsted’s website following their monitoring visit on February 1, including those with action dates of February 28. Had the reporter done his research more thoroughly then he would have been able to report these facts.

Despite a change in management in early January and the significant improvements made by all the current staff we have been unable to secure sufficient funding to continue operations beyond March 31, 2012. Following the publication of Ofsted’s report in December an application to the National Lottery for an extension of funding has been unsuccessful. In total bids and applications in excess of £289,000 have been made by myself in an attempt to secure the financial stability of the charity Autistic Way which is managed by a board of Trustees. In no way should the closure of the setting be a reflection of the capabilities and dedication of the current staff. Their focus has always been on providing a fun and varied facility for children with autism and supporting their families. Since the announcement we have had numerous calls from parents in support of our work.

I would personally like to thank all the current staff for their positivity and hard work over the last five months.

ANDY BANE

Company Secretary

Autistic Way

Editor’s note: The reporter made several attempts to contact Mr Bane last week, leaving messages with the person who answered the phone. All reports published were sourced from Ofsted documents and county council officers.

Road becoming so dangerous

I LIVE on Jenner Road on the Paget estate and would like to say how dangerous this road is getting during the day. We have cars parking on both sides of the road and on the bends making them blind corners.

The other day I nearly had a head-on accident. This road is used by loads of schoolchildren in the peak time that the staff at the James Paget are going to work. The Paget has loads of grounds around the hospital so why can’t they let their staff use it? I know the staff have to pay to park there, which is way out of order. If you want staff give them car park space.

Name and address withheld

Boating Lake

getting help

I FEEL I must comment on the article in the Mercury on March 23 regarding the Boating Lake. My family and I are regular visitors to Great Yarmouth as we have a holiday caravan in Caister which we use most weekends.

We were also regular visitors to the Boating Lake and often had a meal in the cafe there until it recently closed.

Whilst I can appreciate it is a good thing to have community workers giving something back to society, I have to disagree with Paul Garrod’s comments that the Boating Lake was so overgrown it could no longer be walked around and needed to be brought back to it’s “former glory”!

The Boating Lake gardens were by no means overgrown and it must have been a mammoth task for the previous owners.

The shrubs in the beds were tended and looked after, the buildings were painted and clean and many visitors enjoyed a “pedal” around the boating lake.

The boating lake itself is the target of late night vandals who throw all manner of rubbish over the walls and into the gardens and lake. Every morning must have brought a clean up operation before the cafe could even be opened.

What a pity the previous owners couldn’t have been afforded the help of 18 community workers and grant funding for improvements. Will the new owners have this help?

MARIE CROUCHER

Sheffield

Stop sucking us into the sea

FROM local news we gather concern is still being shown towards coastal erosion along the Norfolk coast.

All very admirable but it is annoying to think more concern is not shown towards a possible cause for it ie aggregate extraction at an alarming volume.

And now, with the addition of another firm, with suction pipes and powers of the same magnitude, it will bring the extraction rate now up to three million tonnes per annum. But no worry, the material they are sucking is self regenerating. But regenerating from where?

The answer can be found along the Norfolk coast! Please let’s get a hold put on this before another firm applies for a licence to suck us into the sea!

JACK DYE

Gonville Road,

Gorleston

Let’s strive for a hospice here

I AM rather shocked and saddened at Mr Brian Potter’s letter taking to task East Coast Hospice when he has failed to recognise that Palliative Care Eeast (PCE) merits some comments:

The public governors meeting of 9 March 2012 (attachment 10) is self explanatory, to anyone wishing to read it and provides an update on PCIS (formally PCE)

The JPH intention in 2006 was to build PCE to accommodate the Palliative care staff in a better environment, at an extra cost of £25,000 pa to run, great news, but now they state this is not the case. Quote : “The PCIS is not intended to be exclusive extension of JPUH services nor is it intended to be simply provided accommodation for existing JPUH palliative care service staff”? If this is the case then PCE have moved away from their objectives when originally fundraising.

PCE have not got its funding sorted out even though the PCT has given them £300,000.

Mr Potter’s interest in the Duchess of Cambridge is laudable, but the Duchess of Cambridge actually opened “the Tree house” Hospice, which is part of EACH (East Anglia Children’s Hospice), not St Elizabeth’s.

I just cannot understand why Mr Potter does not want the people of Great Yarmouth and Waveney to have choice as government say we should have. Not everyone can die at home as we all wish for, some want, and need choice. Let’s strive for a hospice please.

V HARDWICK

Grove Road

Martham

Husband Ken deserves thanks

I SHOULD like to thank all members of my husband’s group,.North Yarmouth Road Safety Group, who have been campaigning for years to get new road signs etc for Caister Road, to make it a safer road. The signs will be going in shortly.

But special thanks should go to my husband, Ken, who has campaigned tirelessly for this and other issues, made over 2,000 phone calls, headed meetings and spoken to police, members of the Norfolk and local councils and county councillor Tom Garrod who incidentally (according to the new local Conservatives flyer In Touch), has not done all this with the help of local residents.

If anyone wishes to contact my husband on any road safety topic, please call 07868 727165.

J BLOODWORTH

Caister Road,

Great Yarmouth

We welcome all your letters ...

AT a recent public gathering, a senior borough councillor referred to Mercury letter correspondents as “deluded”. I sincerely hope his views will not prevent your readers from continuing to write to these columns and the Mercury to publish their letters.

Name and Address withheld

Now let’s boost

our town centre

THE borough council’s retail study presented to councillors this week made interesting reading. So much for Cllr Reynolds’ assessment that Residents Permit Parking was the thing destroying Yarmouth retail and tourism economy - the council’s consultants found only single figure percentage ratings for people worried by the lack of parking or the expense of parking. Perhaps now the council can concentrate on a series of measures to revitalise the market and boost town centre retail and hospitality businesses without local people having to lose their permit parking between the Market Place and the Golden Mile.

MICHAEL CASTLE

Borough Councillor for Yarmouth Central and Northgate

Get it dualled

HOW many more people have to die before they dual the Acle Straight? I was in London last week and local news revealed £7,000,000 was being put aside for cycle paths and nearly treble that for roads; but there is no money spare for other areas! Or is it that London comes first, as normal.

ROD BURCHETT

Email

TV saga: Is council up to the job?

IT has happened again - another fortune squandered by GYBC. The giant TVs have been sold back to the makers at only a very small fraction of what we paid for them. Is our council just accident prone or simply not up to the job?

The deputy leader Cllr Reynolds was chairman of that committee. Now he says a £1,000 TV is worth nothing after six months, and blames the Labour government for only giving them three months to decide how to spend the grant.

Ample time one would have thought to research and make a decision. How many meetings did they have in that period - not enough obviously. What was the other £3.7m spent on? Surely they had a wish list when applying for this grant?

Our council intends teaming up with Breckland and South Holland to share council officers. The idea is that sharing certain officers will be a cost cutting exercise which they hope will save £140,000 in staff costs. Trevor Wainwright believes the figure will be nearer £50,000 per year when travelling costs are taken out. Council leader Steve Ames states “he won’t argue over figures but savings will be made”!

So is it really being done to save money or what? None of this sounds good business sense to me. It seems no consideration has been given to the negative effect this will have on us as residents and ratepayers when the financial gain will probably be no more than the costs of the mayor if that. I dread to think of the logistics involved in this. A managing director with three councils all different in many ways doesn’t make for good administration.

What do we have in common with the rural councils? We have a relatively small rural population, a port and with related and other industries and a large tourist industry. I would think teaming up with Waveney makes much more sense, as we already have connections with them by hospitals and health not forgetting our interests and problems mirror theirs.

Unfortunately the Gorleston Area Forum meeting last week left much to be desired despite the attendance of nearly 40 enthusiastic residents, six councillors and an army of officers. Many questions posed at the previous meeting were still “being looked at.”

A suggestion we should have a show of hands on certain projects was quickly pushed aside because this would mean the motion would have to go before cabinet and when this happened once before at a Forum meeting a motion to ask the cabinet to approach Eastport to discuss the possibility of using the pier car park again was thrown out but later an approach by GYBC was made to Eastport on behalf of a private company and Eastport were only too pleased to agree. I would suggest a meeting should be arranged prior to the next Forum in June to agree just how the project needs to work to the benefit of both residents and council. At present there is no real formal structure or policy.

DENNIS DURRANT

Brett Avenue,

Gorleston

New system of

control needed

HOW many of us ratepayers have purchased an item only to realise it is not fit for purpose, we either did something about it or footed the loss ourselves. I suspect there are many. But if you were using someone else’s money, (a bit like Bargain Hunt on telly) well if the money was a stranger’s would we bother, I think not.

How much longer are we the electorate going to vote for the same people every four years that spend our money on items that are not fit for purpose?

And there are many, the outer harbour after four years still a failure, the gardening fiasco £m in compensation, strengthening South Quay road for container traffic £1.5m did not materialise, £900,000 for TV screens (we did not even get £9,000 of new business from them).

When I was at work if, through inefficiency, I had cost my employer even £500 I would have been saying goodbye to my job. But councillors are not subject to the rules in the normal workplace.

We need a completely separate system to scrutinise expenditure before they are paid out.

JOHN COOPER

Burnt Lane,

Gorleston

Efforts will make a real difference

IN last week’s letters column Brian Potter summarised well the reservations many feel about the feasibility of establishing a much needed hospice for Yarmouth and Waveney.

We have no doubt at all the challenge we face is large, but are greatly encouraged by the massive grassroots support we are receiving.

Even those responsible for the new palliative care support centre about to be built at the James Paget Hospital appear uncertain about how they will make it financially self-sufficient.

The Yarmouth and Waveney area is one of only two in the country that does not have a hospice service. We do not see why that should remain so, and are ambitious enough to strive to achieve and sustain what most have achieved already elsewhere.

The need in the Yarmouth and Waveney area is also far greater than in most other areas of the country because of pockets of social deprivation and associated poor health.

In 2004/05 two reports highlighted the poor state of local end of life care and in particular the need for dedicated beds such as hospices provide.

Our charity was formed in 2007 in response to these reports and was encouraged by the then chairman and chief executive of the PCT, which also funded the initial hospice design cost plan as well as a funding feasibility study.

In 2007/08 the PCT reviewed its own end of life care strategy, following this with an even more comprehensive and far-reaching investigation called Marie Curie Delivering Choice.

For the first time the need for a hospice was included; the response from patients, carers and health professionals was overwhelmingly positive, and a recommendation was made that a full business case should be developed to show how a hospice could be integrated into local end of life care.

A few months ago we engaged local social entrepreneur Robert Ashton to help us finalise this piece of work and to help us align our objectives with the many opportunities presented by the Government’s Big Society Agenda.

This is already starting to identify and highlight new collaborative, and most importantly, achievable ways for us to realise a dream shared by many - to enable local people to benefit from full patient choice and have the kind of end of life care only available in a hospice setting.

The land requirement for the hospice building was arrived at by our architect and eight possible sites, including the JPH, were evaluated by professional land agents as part of the planning application process.

The cost of the land is only a small proportion of the overall development cost and free land at the JPH would not have been a significant factor.

Five acres in the right setting was the requirement because a hospice is not just a building; the gardens, landscaping and easy free parking for visitors are all essential.

Our capital fundraising campaign is quite different from that of Palliative Care East. We were clear from the outset our capital would mostly come from outside the area with much from charitable trusts. We are being advised by Andrew Davies our fundraising consultant with a proven local track record.

For the longer term running costs, alongside our charity shops we will soon start to assemble the kind of fund-raising team that all hospices have and which succeed everywhere else.

Our strategy was always to wait until Palliative Care East had finished its fund raising appeal before doing this so as not to compete and further confuse the public about the two projects.

I am sure Brian Potter’s plans to develop his business initially met with some scepticism. Whilst our success might never be on the same scale as his, like him we know that we will succeed, and the result of our success will make a very real difference to local families in their darkest hours.

DAVID NETTLESHIP

Chairman of the Trustees

East Coast Hospice

Card demise left me disappointed

I WONDER how many mothers were disappointed when no card from children appeared for Mother’s Day. I was one of those mothers looking forward to receiving a card from my two sons, both living in the same town in north Devon.

No cards appeared all last week and I was wondering if I was ever going to get them when, lo and behold, last Friday I had a missive from the Post Office informing me there was a card waiting – if I would pay £1.12p.

I duly went to the Yarmouth office and when I asked why I had to pay was told insufficient postage had been paid, even though my son had put a 1st class stamp and posted it in good time before Mother’s Day.

I was told it was too big to go through “their” slot. I paid the £1.12p and at home tried it through my letterbox and it went through okay.

Last Saturday, I received another missive informing me a card from son number two awaited me at the Post Office, and yes, you’ve guessed it, another £1.12p was due.

I have yet to get that card due to time factors but am really furious. Why did it take five to six days for the Post Office to inform me they had my property and why do they need so much excess charge?

A word of warning: when buying a card check on the back on the left hand corner and you will see the size.

If it says “large letter” then you need to put on more than a 1st class stamp as, in the Post Office’s twisted thinking, that will not go through their size slot even though it will go through your letterbox.

When I called the Post Office to complain, I asked how many cards they had awaiting collection and was told “hundreds”. What a rip off!

JEAN STACEY

Pound Lane,

Gorleston

Making a bid to

a ‘terrible’ day

IT was good to read the letter from Jeanette who had traced her family back to the Yarmouth Suspension Bridge Disaster. I am trying to get a memorial to stand where the bridge fell on that terrible day when 400 went into the water and 79 died

Of those 59 were young children, falling from the Bridge as it gave way.

When people get in touch saying their family was one of the victims of the disaster it’s like a little thread passing through time saying we care and we have found you.

I would love the memorial to have all the names on who died and their ages, they must have been so excited in the minutes leading up to the tragedy, seeing the clown appear in the wash tub pulled by the four geese coming upriver.

I am asking for a donation of £1 only as people are really struggling today, and it would be nice if they leave their names as they can be recorded and be buried underneath the memorial, a spiritual thing.

I can be found Wednesday and Saturday collecting next to Palmers. If anyone wants to come and ask about the story it is in my head every day and I would love to tell it.

The Memorial will be something that can tell the story without going any further, so everyone looking at it will understand what happened on that sad day, Friday, May 2 1845.

A major part of Great Yarmouth’s history has been lost for many years, it now needs to be part of it from now on.

JULIE STAFF

Juliest800@yahoo.co.uk

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