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Port users must mend bridges

PUBLISHED: 12:54 07 May 2009 | UPDATED: 13:50 03 July 2010

I was really saddened to see East Port's big moment (ie the arrival of the big cranes) being overshadowed by almost wholly negative sound-bites from the Port Users Association (Friday, May 1).

I was really saddened to see East Port's big moment (ie the arrival of the big cranes) being overshadowed by almost wholly negative sound-bites from the Port Users Association (Friday, May 1).

It is almost exactly 10 years ago that I was elected Chairman of the then Great Yarmouth Port Authority and the crucial partnership was put in place with both county and borough councils to push forward the Outer Harbour Project. That was done because we knew that the port had to develop new facilities if it was to thrive. The inner river could not cope with newer, larger vessels, and the Norfolk Line roll-on/roll-off ferry services had been lost to Felixstowe some years previously. Do nothing was not an option. Without progress the port was destined to wither and die.

In the years that have followed, the Labour government has been true to its word in providing millions of pounds of public investment to secure the construction of the outer harbour, but these monies would have meant nothing had they not been matched by multi-million pound investment from the private sector - International Port Holdings and the Port of Singapore. The East Port is now privately run by the Great Yarmouth Port Company trading as Eastport. It is not run by the old Port Authority. They have worked wonders to complete the project within such a short time-frame and in a recession to boot. People in Yarmouth should be really proud of these new port facilities. The investment is already helping to protect Yarmouth from the worst aspects of the current economic downturn.

The new facilities will enable the offshore and energy sectors to sustain and develop their future business, and other businesses in the inner river will in time see the benefit of being located in a port with a future in terms of attracting more freight business for them too. Sniping and rubbishing the Eastport project will do no-one any good. I hope that the Port Users Association will mend bridges with the new port company and seek to discuss their concerns out of the glare of media attention - anything else would be totally self-destructive. Yarmouth is not immune to the recession and everything is not rosy, but if we keep our nerve the future for the town and port is extremely rosy.

MICHAEL CASTLE

Leader of the Labour Group

Great Yarmouth Borough Council

While I am working in France I am pleased that I can stay in touch with my home town via the Mercury and I have come to rely on the integrity of your reports. This has added to the impact of your editorial regarding the new outer harbour and my complete outrage at the state of affairs revealed by the Great Yarmouth Port Users Association. I sincerely hope that you will pursue this matter and on behalf of all the people in the town demand answers to such questions as the following:

1 What payment or other benefit has been received for the land, rents, facilities etc which belong to Great Yarmouth?

2 Which councillors and council offices were responsible for the negotiations which have resulted in the present situation and what exactly have they signed away?

3 My friends and family tell me that the expected container traffic will probably bring the town to a standstill at times. Surely all major planning projects require a traffic impact study at an early stage.

4 Why instead of the large number of jobs promised are we witnessing threats of unemployment?

5 Why have the public not been informed of the true situation?

I have no doubt that you and your readers will have many more questions and probably one of the most important will be who is responsible for this dreadful mess.

MRS MICHAELA FARMERY

Via email

Is it just me or has the Outer Harbour been taken over as a new container port?

All very nice, not for the unemployed of this town as I can't see it creating many jobs - the cranes and lorries will see to that. What has totally disappeared under the Outer Harbour radar is the ferry service that was part of the grand master plan. Not a thing has been said in the last year. Is it coming - is it not? Who knows? The whole plan for the harbour was, we were told, to create jobs and help boost the local economy. No sign of that at the moment. The whole Outer Harbour project has been kept a big secret. Does anyone know what's really going to come of it?

For the economy of Great Yarmouth and Norfolk as a whole, we need a regular ferry service, and we are in a perfect position to provide such a service, but seem to be missing the boat, so to speak. Come on Eastport, or whoever owns the harbour at the time of writing - let's see some action to make this the port it should be and not just another destination for more container imports.

ROBERT COLLINS

Gorleston

Well now we know the truth. The outer harbour is actually going to be a container terminal. Now we know why they wanted such a large area for “port operations.”

So we can now look forward to lorries travelling through the town and then straight out again with a new load. Advantage to the town? None apart from more congestion.

This assumes that an operator wants to use the facility.

Well at least it will give the workers at Felixstowe terminal a good laugh.

MAURICE HOOD

Claydon Grove

Gorleston on sea

MY 14-year-old son asked if he could go swimming up the Marina Centre after school. We haven't been for a while, but a few years ago when the children were small we were up there once or twice a week.

He wanted to go on a Monday night, and when he and his friend got there, they could not swim because of the swim academy. Fair enough, I should have checked the timetable which can be downloaded online, but I did not think to because I just assumed it was a public swimming pool, open to all, as it was in the good old days.

My son came home tonight from school, wanting to go swimming again, so I rang the Marina Centre to check it was okay. I was told it was free to under 17s but even though they are teens themselves, my son and his friend would have to be accompanied by an adult 17 years old or over. I checked this on the website and it clearly states this. This is from 6.30pm to 8pm, then 8pm onwards it is adults only so they can't go then.

I asked the receptionist when they could go unaccompanied and she said between 10am and 3pm weekdays - which is extremely handy as they actually are at school then, or they can swim alone weekends and school holidays. Well wow, spoilt for choice or what?

The adult has to swim, so tell me how many 14-year-old boys want their mum to go swimming with them? Or they could go with their 17-year-old cousin and he would be responsible for them. But he is working weekdays so can't take them, even if he wanted to.

I suppose it's because it is a family friendly time and they don't want to spoil it for the little ones, but both my children learnt to swim at the Marina when they were babies and it didn't bother them when it was packed out.

My son has gone out with his friend and is now hanging around in the village where we live, when all he wanted to do was go for an innocent swim. Please someone explain to me the logic behind this? I would happily pay for them to swim and I know I can expect considerate behaviour from them.

HAZEL KING

West Road

Caister

With respect to the allegations in last week's edition stating that the public toilets on The Conge were closed at 5pm whilst the fair was in town. I have made exhaustive enquiries at the Town Hall and Great Yarmouth Borough Services, who are the contractors responsible for cleaning the toilets, and have been assured that the toilets at both The Conge and Market Gates were open until 10pm from the Thursday until the Sunday. In future years I have requested that the Conge toilets stay open until 11pm, as for the Market Gates there is no need for them to remain open after 10pm as the rides at that end of the market are for young children who would be expected to be in bed at that time. Your correspondent refers to the anti-social behaviour of certain teenagers, drinking in public and relieving themselves in public places. This is in no way the fault of the council or the fair organisers but is a matter for the police to address.

JIM SHRIMPLIN

Norfolk County Council

IN reply to Elizabeth Always: There are a number of reasons why many people no longer value anything of a spiritual nature. But just going to church and singing hymns and looking to leaders of the Church is not going to alter the fact that as the apostle John wrote “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” Those who wish to be true followers of Christ need to take to heart his instructions.

In a prayer just before he was put to death, he prayed on behalf of his followers. “I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world. I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one.”

So a true Christian does not look to worldly governments, political parties or church leaders for guidance and protection, but rather the teachings of Christ as recorded in the Bible.

PHILIP KNIGHT

Wherry Way

Great Yarmouth

I AM writing in response to the recent letter from A Parker (May 1) regarding First bus drivers.

I was pleased to read the acknowledgement that most of our drivers are polite and courteous to passengers - I believe this is a testament to the extensive level of customer service training that all our drivers receive, which includes customer wellbeing, passenger safety and disability and discrimination issues.

However, I was disappointed to read of the recent experiences of A Parker's daughter when using our services.

I am keen that the points raised are investigated and would encourage A Parker to make contact with us. As the only bus company in the area with a dedicated customer service team we will always fully investigate any issues raised by our passengers. They can be contacted by e-mail contactus.fec@firstgroup.com or on 08456 020 121.

GUSSY ALAMEIN

Marketing and Communications Manager

First Eastern Counties Buses Limited

I WAS interested to receive a Residents' Survey from the Prospective Conservative Parliamentary Candidate Brandon Lewis.

Although I wholeheartedly agree with his statement that we should be supporting our local economy by using local businesses and retailers, I felt he managed to score a sublime “own goal,” so to speak, by outsourcing the printing of said leaflets and documentation to a contractor in his home county of Essex, rather than utilising a printer in the Great Yarmouth area.

M B BLISSETT

Kingfisher Close

Bradwell

WHAT a joy it was, on returning to keep fit classes at Mill Lane Community Centre in Bradwell after the Easter break, to see the beautiful pictures produced by our local schoolchildren brightening the otherwise bare walls. A big thank you is due to these children and their teachers and parents for all the imagination, hard work and encouragement that has been involved in the project, and what a wonderful way to give our young people a stake in the community. Well done kids!

MARGARET HIGGS

Fastolff Avenue

Gorleston

I FIND it odd that at a time when the government is persuading us to use the car less and make better use of public transport, the sizeable Norfolk villages of Belton, Bradwell and Burgh Castle have had their bus services reduced in terms of availability and frequency.

The biggest losers are the residents of Burgh Castle, Blue Sky Gardens and Green Lane, Bradwell. The first two receiving no service in the evenings or Sunday and the latter having no service at all!

Belton is the biggest gainer that while having its service frequency reduced to 30 minutes from 20 minutes, will benefit by having a faster journey time to Gorleston and Great Yarmouth. While bus companies are privately run, money in the bank or a profitable dividend for shareholders is the bottom line at the end of the day. However, Norfolk County Council receives funds from Central Government to subsidise rural routes that while they are not financially viable are socially necessary and it has a duty to its council tax payers in Bradwell and Burgh Castle to subsidise a service during evenings and Sundays.

Furthermore, these sizeable villages are unique in that they are the only ones in the eastern area of Norfolk that do not have a direct bus service to the James Paget Hospital (even Acle has the X1 service to the hospital!).

May I suggest that Norfolk County Council tenders a subsidised service commencing at either Haddiscoe or St Olaves following the old route 7/7A through Belton, Burgh Castle, Bradwell to Gorleston Library then to the James Paget Hospital. If this service were to run hourly Monday to Sunday 8am to 9pm, it would cater for the disenfranchised bus passengers in Burgh Castle, Bradwell Blue Sky and Green Lane travelling to Gorleston, while at the same time providing a direct hospital service to all passengers en route. Public transport should mean what it says, transport for the public!

A J GRICE

Wensum Way

Belton

I ATTENDED the Gurkha memorial rededication service in St Georges Park on Sunday where Canon Michael Woods read a short history of the Gurkha forces.

There were three Gurkhas there, including one piper. All were immaculate in their dress. The memorial was then unveiled, with the piper playing which made a very moving moment. There was then a prayer of rededication.

The deputy mayor (Paul Garrod) was alone in attendance representing the town, but there was no sign of any other councillor or our local member of parliament. Did not this ceremony merit their attendance?

The government should be ashamed of its present attitude toward the Gurkhas who seek to stay here and who have served the Queen and this country so well, while opening the doors to others who seek to destroy us and our traditions.

B V BECKETT

Ex Royal Norfolk Regiment

Larch Drive,

Bradwell

IN response to the letter from Mrs Bartram and her comments, the one that took my interest was her remarks regarding electric wheelchairs. I would like to point out that I, like many, are reliant on our scooters to get out and about due to our illnesses and yes, I would agree there are those that thunder down pavements without a thought for anyone else's safety.

But she can not tarnish us all with the same brush. The rules are laid out to be adhered to, in my case because my machine does less than 8mph, I have to use the pavements like everyone else; scooters with a higher speed need a tax disc and must use the roads like every other vehicle that uses the highway(not the pavements).

Other points of interest - all scooters have to be registered through the DVLA at Swansea and insurance is not obligatory but it's suggested that people like myself, take third party insurance in case of an accident.

What I have found is that pavements are not wide enough for the volume of people which use the pavements whether it be a scooter user, a mother with pushchair or the pedestrian at large. But I find if you are courteous and helpful then there should be no problems. I give way to pedestrians as much as I can and I abide by the rules. So my message is simple to those who break the rules, please remember there are those around you who have as much right to use the pavements and highways and to be allowed to do so in safety It does not take much to show a bit of manners and be courteous whilst using your scooter but this applies to everyone who uses the pavements, not just us scooter users.

ALFRED LEARMONTH

Paston Road

Gorelston

GWEN Reynolds - aka 'Auntie Gay' - was a close friend of mine.

A few months before her death we were on holiday in Italy when I felt then that she was not well.

Her dedication was such that - even when desperately ill - she wrote and sent off her 'Auntie Gay' column to the Mercury. In fact she died only a few days later.

Miss RL FARMER

Marine Parade

Gorleston

DESPITE the doom and gloom concerning the economy and the recent health scare, surely this spring is one of the most glorious for many years.

The beautiful daffodils and celandine and the lovely flowering trees and shrubs; soon the hedgerows will be a blaze of cow parsley. So much beauty to cheer us.

This year perhaps we shall see the return of some of our butterflies.

CECILIA EBBAGE

Lovewell Road

Gorleston

To the driver of the vehicle which killed my cat on Church Road, Gorleston on Saturday, May 2, at 7.30pm. Yes you, the driver who ran my cat over leaving him mortally wounded, the driver who stopped for a micro second to see if my cat was writhing in pain enough, the driver who sped off leaving him to be finished off by the next driver.

Well they didn't finish him off, they stopped to make sure no one did finish him off, they stopped to see if there was anything they could do to help him. He died.

I saw his white and ginger lifeless body lying in the road, surrounded by people who cared. I picked his lifeless body up and kissed his little lifeless paw, I told his lifeless body that I loved him and I cried and cried and cried.

Witnesses said they heard a bang and they came out of their houses to see if they could do anything to help, they consoled me, comforted me and helped me back to my home, the home that my cat shared.

You took away a quarter of my family when you killed him. He could open doors and cupboards, he could ask for food, he would come running up to me when he saw me, he was our “child”. I hope one day you feel the pain and distress that we are feeling right now.

I would like to say thank you to all those lovely people who cared enough to stop to help, and ask that if anyone knows who it was they will show them the above letter.

LIZ UNDERWOOD,

Church Road,

Gorleston.

Thanks for the tribute to the Gurkhas. This photo was taken by my wife of myself (second from right) and some of the ex-servicemen from our club. If it had been known about, there would have been a lot more as a lot of men from Great Yarmouth were in Malaya in the 1950s and 1960s and were attached to the Gurkhas just outside King's Lynn. They were very friendly and brave soldiers and the way they have been treated is disgusting.

J CARTER

Ex 1st Btn Suffolk Regiment

St Peter's Plain

Great Yarmouth

I have had the pleasure of living in Caister-on-Sea all my life and have seen considerable change. This notion of the Tesco store planning a revamp by "buying" the parish council is a quick way to kill small business in the village. Tesco is big enough; it has enough products in store, and is one of two supermarkets.

By offering to build a new village hall its only intention is a vehicle to get the hall-goers through its doors. Let's face it - if they really wanted to put back into the community, we have a perfectly useable hall in the village, but unfortunately it is closer to the small independent stores (bad for Tesco). Is it coincidence that 150 new homes were given the green light to build on unsuitable marshland nearer Tesco? Oh, and if they say that we need the room because they run out of products, I don't believe it, and I used to work there. This notion of creating new jobs - well, if we close the independent small shops down, then what they are doing is simply replacing the loss - not creating new ones.

GARETH HACON

In Viewpoint (May 1) Isabel Minister explained how, for our Christmas Shoebox Appeal this year, we will be linking with Smile International - a charity that was founded by Clive and Ruth Doubleday. Your readers might be interested in an extra local connection, inasmuch as Ruth spent her childhood in Great Yarmouth, being the daughter of Vic Ramsay, who many will remember as a local evangelist. Her husband, Clive, a Baptist minister, served a church in Petts Wood, near Orpington, Kent, until they moved to work full-time for the charity in 1999.

Clive and Ruth will be returning to speak about the work of Smile International during morning worship at Park Baptist Church, Crown Road, this Sunday (May 10) at 10.45am, when friends of Ruth or of the Shoebox Appeal would be most welcome

DERRICK HILL

Pastor

Park Baptist Church

I THINK that it is both right and proper to allay any of the fears, doubts and trepidations that the villagers of Caister may have over the reconstruction of the new Tesco store, on site, within the village.

First, the present Tesco store is now some 20 years old, having first been a Rainbow Store in the late 80s. It is beginning to show its age and was built using old methods and technology.

A leisurely walk from Caister Church, south through the village towards Tesco, one can count 36 shops, these include those in Beach Road and Tan Lane. They consist of kebab, Indian, Chinese takeaways and cafes (seven), fish and chip shops (three), morticians (two), antique shops (two) and hairdressers (three). Other shops are bookmakers, carpet shop, tile shop, printers ink, ironmonger, double glazing, optician and car accessory shop. These are to name but a few.

These shops are not now affected by the presence of the Tesco store and indeed I doubt they will be affected by an updated Tesco store. The present shops within the village have a working partnership and their commercial needs are quite different to those offered by Tesco store. I see little need to cast gloom and despondency on certain opinions that Caister High Street will become redundant; on the contrary, I would like to hope and think that Caister village, as a result of this development, will grow and prosper.

TONY OVERILL

Chairman, Caister Parish Council


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