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Swimming pool is a necessity

PUBLISHED: 16:30 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 July 2010

THE swimming pool at the Marina Centre has been out of action for three weeks and we now hear it may not be open again until the end of April.

Cynics are wondering if this is the “heaven sent” (aptly described as gales damaged the building) opportunity the council have longed for to be rid of this pesky pool once and for all, and so free the way for the redevelopment of the site! I can almost see the pound signs flashing in front of councillors' eyes in anticipation of borough coffers starting to fill.

THE swimming pool at the Marina Centre has been out of action for three weeks and we now hear it may not be open again until the end of April.

Cynics are wondering if this is the “heaven sent” (aptly described as gales damaged the building) opportunity the council have longed for to be rid of this pesky pool once and for all, and so free the way for the redevelopment of the site! I can almost see the pound signs flashing in front of councillors' eyes in anticipation of borough coffers starting to fill.

There is, however, another aspect of this closure and one I hope the council will take heed of in that it illustrates the need we have to keep this swimming facility, or a replacement, within Great Yarmouth.

I have often commented on the number of disabled people who use the pool regularly, myself included, and who consider their frequent swimming sessions to be a form of physiotherapy. Being without it now for three weeks I, like many others, am suffering tremendously as my whole body stiffens with higher levels of pain than usual, and walking becomes much more difficult.

If the closure continues beyond April, I will definitely need to find a replacement pool and contrary to councillor Jim Shrimplin's claims, this will mean going well outside the borough because there is no pool within it that offers the same easy access, depth, length and warmth.

This pool is a necessity and it really is time councillors own up to what they are planning; redevelop the site by all means but, before starting, show us the plans for the replacement pool the town rightly needs and deserves!

JENNY WARNER

Beach Road

Caister-on-Sea

I'M glad to see the boss of the Marina Centre is worried about the public's safety and the fact they might find another swimming pool to use, but what about the staff. They have to go five weeks unpaid as they have only been offered two weeks pay if they take holiday. I know the staff are young but they still have car payments and rent to pay which won't be possible.

Safety wasn't a concern when it comes to staff as two weeks ago they had to do training in a pool with freezing water then dress in a changing area with no heating because it has been turned off until the hole is fixed to save money, so the staff that are working in reception are freezing.

The building has really turned a corner in the last few years with great help from Marie Hartley and the trust but it's the staff that work in that building day in and day out that make the changes happen and what thanks do they get - none. I hope there's enough staff to open the pool when it's fixed because if I was them, I'd be down the Jobcentre looking for a job in which I felt valued.

Name and address withheld

IT comes as no surprise to learn that pubs are going out of business at a record rate. Drinking in these wonderful establishments is becoming prohibitively expensive, and of course the smoking ban has been the final nail in the coffin for many. There can be little doubt that many former patrons are now choosing to drink, and smoke, in their own homes.

I realise that the ban on smoking was introduced so as to protect those working in pubs and other public areas. Many were probably initially very pleased that they no longer had to work in a smoke filled environment. I wonder how many are now less than pleased, when they have lost their job when the business was forced to close.

I fear that the great British pub will soon be a thing of the past. I believe that in the not too distant future the only place, outside of your own home, where you will be able to sit down and enjoy a pint or two will be at a supermarket. This may at first sound ridiculous, but corner shops, butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers and independent filling stations have all but been consigned to history thanks to the domination of the large retailers.

Unless something is done to help pubs continue trading, reduction of duty on alcohol sold for consumption on the premises perhaps, we will soon be left with a choice between “The Asda Arms” and “The Tesco Tavern”.

And in these days of supposed environmental awareness, can somebody please explain to me why the Christmas lights in Market Place have been on recently? Surely this is an unnecessary waste of energy if ever there was one. Before somebody suggests that the lights may have been on for the fair's visit, this wouldn't explain as to why the lights at the southern end of the market have been on for weeks.

SHAUN LAYTON

Trafalgar Court

Great Yarmouth

IN response to Labour/Conservative “War of Words” article (Mercury, April 4). We too, like everyone else, have slowly started getting the printed manifestos through the door. To be honest, we normally don't take much notice because our opinion is that it is easy to deliver on paper and normally amounts to nothing more than “one-upmanship” on the other parties.

A couple of days ago we heard a squabble outside and went to see what it was. It turned out to be two young girls delivering a leaflet - a leaflet from a Labour candidate for the upcoming election. Printed across it several times is the address of their current theme “where has all the money gone?”. Judging by this lame excuse of a bid for support it seems the money has gone into printing three trees worth of thick, almost definitely non-recycled paper.

On the other hand, we had a pleasant visit from one candidate who made the leaflet drop in person with a smile on his face while asking how our business was going. We hadn't really been planning to vote as frankly all the parties are as bad as each other, but just the sheer fact that he had the decency and respect to say hello personally and introduce himself means that even if we don't get a chance to vote, we at least wish him the best of luck for every success in the future.

ELLY KOOPMAN

Marine Parade

Great Yarmouth

I WRITE on behalf of the Norfolk Police dive team; these eight young men are conscientious, hard-working members of the Norfolk Police, who, following intensive training at a cost of approximately £20,000 a head, are on call day and night in an emergency. They train one day a week but other than that perform all normal police duties required of them. I now understand the team is to be disbanded.

Apart from the vast cost to the taxpayer to train these men, we in Norfolk are surrounded by water and therefore are in need of this unit that frequently search for people, bodies or evidence in our rivers and dykes. This team has been running for 50 years, they have all the relevant and expensive equipment required in their work, which we as members of the Norfolk community have already paid for. If they disband, who do we call in an emergency, the Met Police dive team, who will take a considerable time to get here, at more and unnecessary expense to us? They do not know the area in the same way our lads do, making this task more complicated for them.

Our dive team is a very important and necessary part of the Norfolk Police Service. Let's hope sense prevails and this team is allowed to continue doing the job it was put there for.

CAROL LOCAL

Royal Thames Road

Caister-on-Sea

I JUST felt had to send an email regarding the article (Mercury, March 26) regarding the old Royal Naval Hospital (St Nicholas). I used to call there when I was working for a large insurance company, mainly to call on Mr Frosdick who was in charge at the Gate House seeing people in and out. But a couple of times I had to call to pay out some cash to the inmates.

I was escorted by one of the nurses into the building and taken to where the inmates were. It was quite an experience as every time we went through a door it was unlocked by my escort, then locked after we went through and into another corridor. Quite eerie.

It was also great seeing a picture of the “Queen of The Channel” in the same article. It brought back lots of memories when as a boy I used to stand at the end of Gorleston pier on a Sunday night during the summer, watching for this ship to come over the horizon all lights blazing, coming closer and closer after its weekend trip to Ostend. What a wonderful sight that was! Thank you for the memory.

DON BULLARD

Elm Avenue

Gorleston on sea

YET again it would appear that the ordinary citizen has come a poor second to big money.

As a resident of the beautiful village of Winterton on Sea, and also Chairman of Winterton in Bloom, I feel I must write to strongly condemn the development plans currently proposed for Emsons Loke and the subsequent changes to Black Street.

Part of the charm of the entrance to the village via Black Street begins with the Church and its beautiful old boundary wall, and then the grass verges and well kept gardens to the front of the bungalows leading up to the village green.

This vista has often been commented on when the village has been judged by Anglia in Bloom and Britain in Bloom which we have been proud to enter for several years. However it now appears all this is to be changed just to accommodate the development of just nine new houses.

It is of great concern to me that the proposed widening of Black Street has not been considered on either aesthetic or safety grounds. Having been responsible for the planting of the village green for the past six years I have noticed not only has traffic become heavier but also faster through the village and I cannot understand how straightening the road would not encourage traffic to move even faster, before coming to a bottleneck outside the school on the junction of Black Street and Back Path.

How can this be an improvement? I would ask the planning committee to revisit this application and revert to their original decision to deny permission for this development and not allow finances to encroach on any discussions that may take place in the future.

PAM ALLEN

Chairman,

Winterton in Bloom

ONCE again I feel I have to put pen to paper, this time to support the chairman and parishioners of Winterton Parish Council. This on the controversy of building homes within a floodplain area, and desecrating part of the village.

I would have thought that with all the problems the borough planners have had, and are still having over building on a floodplain at West Road, Caister, they would have benefited from experience. There is now a temporary halt in this development until problems have been resolved. Bearing all this in mindm the borough planning committee should learn a lesson and listen to parish advice instead of placing too much reliance on government bodies like Defra, or the Environment Agency who, after all are only the mouthpiece of the government, and know very little of local parish issues.

We experienced this in Caister, and now our worst fears, which were overridden by government dictat, are now being proved correct. I also note that the new shoreline management plan for north Norfolk is to surrender some 6,500 hectares of land from Eccles to north Winterton to the sea. And this on the very doorstep of the proposed site in Winterton.

I would remind both planners and the planning committee that the life of new build properties is for three generations or 60 years, and yes under the new SMP they envisage losing the land north of Winterton within the next 20 to 25 years. On these grounds alone I would have thought the chairman of Winterton Parish Council and his parishioners have got good grounds to reject this proposal.

Yes we lost the vote on a technicality, but we'll have a re-run, so that we can win second time around.

A G OVERILL

Chairman,

Caister Parish Council

“Church Clash (Mercury, April 4) I wish to correct the letter printed in the Mercury. It should have read: “Micah 3:11 states “Her own priests minister for a price.” Not mistrust for a price.”

PHILIP KNIGHT

Wherry Way

Great Yarmouth

THE end of an era. But fond memories always. I have recently found out that the Great Yarmouth coach firm Caroline Seagull is to cease. It is sad news. We spent holidays at Great Yarmouth during the 1980's and used to go on mystery tours in the evenings with Caroline Seagull. They were wonderful times. I remember the crew, Bob, Donny, Terry, Barney, David, etc. Happy days and great fun!

I would like to thank Caroline Seagull for all the happiness they gave to me. Thank you very much. I love you and will never forget you. I shall visit Yarmouth during the summer and will be there in May. I will have a large glass of wine at the Britannia Pier and raise my glass to toast Caroline Seagull. Happy memories. Best wishes to all at Caroline Seagull past and present.

Mrs LINDA SHAILES

Wisbech

I WOULD like to thank the enthusiastic Cecilia Ebbage for putting my mind at rest over who made up the “think tank” that endorsed the breaking of the covenant of the late Mrs Williamson and allowed land left to the public to have a house built on it.

She said in her first letter she was so excited about the works going on a Williamson Lookout that she falsely named Sure Start and Gorleston Heritage who worked with the council in the decision making.

I must say when she first said that a heritage group was involved I was surprised, because it would be like Greenpeace investing in whaling boats. But it was that well known publicly endorsed group of people called OWL - Operation Williamsons Lookout.

Anyway, OWL and the council had the most unenvious task of sorting out the lookout which had become overgrown.

I can sleep soundly now knowing that our heritage is in the safe talons of OWL. I would also like OWL to be in the “think tank” on the problem of beach huts. And may I dare suggest when the beach hut project is finished that we can have erected a token sun dial.

JOHN DOTT

Addison Road

Gorleston

WE are a paranormal investigation team who meet weekly to discuss topics of the paranormal; we also visit many locations to investigate hauntings etc. We are at this time looking for new members to join us and would be obliged if you could put our letter in the paper. Anyone aged 25 or over who has a serious interest in the paranormal or who would like to learn how to become an investigator is welcomed. They can contact us on 01502 588699 or come to the Community Centre, Peggotty Road, Great Yarmouth on Monday at 6.45pm.

Mrs Y GREGORY

Secretary

Past and Present

I WOULD like to thank Peter Gray Read for the answer to my letter which amply confirms the point I was trying to make. With his in-depth knowledge of the subject, he has drawn to our attention to the plight of sickle cell sufferers. This is, of course, a prime area for research using DNA techniques. It could well be that in the future it may be necessary that a successful result may require the use of the very techniques he has condemned.

For some reason which I don't understand, he brings the process of evolution into the discussion. This is, of course, a well documented, well-researched process for which there is already masses of evidence in existence and more being discovered every day. So it is hardly a myth.

He does then go on to make the basis of his objections very clear. That is events that took place 2000 years ago, for which the earliest documentary evidence was apparently written at least 60 years after it happened. One must assume that to the early followers of Christ, it would have been a momentous event and yet many of the gospels written at about the same time do not even mention it, which is presumably why the early church leaders left those out of the bible. So, contrary to Peter's claim, it hardly seems be a well-substantiated event.

My real point is that one day the results of the research may benefit me or members of my family and other families, so I think it is totally wrong to try and block such research based on a belief which, although it may give some people help and comfort, has no reliable factual evidence. Peter says he is taking a moral stand, but to me good morals involve not harming anyone and doing as much good as you can. We already know that the research can do a lot of good, so until it can be shown that it is harming anyone, we should let the scientist get on with it.

DEREK BROWN

Nelson Road South

Great Yarmouth

IN your sister EDP there was an article about the Choir Festival in the years 1936, 1937 and 1938 at St Andrew's Hall, Norwich which bought back a lot of memories for me. I attended Great Yarmouth Priory School in those 1930s years prior to the war.

The Priory School Choir attended those competitions and I remember the songs we sang very well. I can't remember if we won but I believe one year we came second. There used to be photographs on the wall in the main hall, I was wondering if any others remember it.

Our choirmaster was Mr Fairhead. Most of us who were in the school choir were also in the church choir. In fact singing was almost a full time hobby, for it was choir practise in the church vestry on Monday 7-7.30pm, Wednesday was the same, but those of us who had solo parts were 7-9pm Friday nights to sing with the men. The church choir then must have been about 100 strong, all men, I am sorry to say.

For our services to the church we got paid, I cannot be precise how much but about 15 shillings to a pound every quarter with an outing every summer to a boating lake for the day with meals provided in the pavilion at Orford Ness. The winter treat was tea in Johnson's rooms Northgate Street, then the pictures at the Regent Cinema, and a box of Rowntrees Pastilles as well.

We also did carol singing in the interval on the stage. I remember being on stage at the Aquarium. Trips were also made to the hospital, different carol for every ward, and also to the infirmary (now Northgate Hospital).

Looking back at those years they were busy, but for me, good years. If the Priory School has any photographs I would like to see them.

J STOWERS

Wainwright Close

Lowestoft

IN response to Rachel Moore's article “Teaching's not so bad” (Mercury, March 26), I merely set out three motions passed at this year's conference at Manchester, which, I hope will explain the reason for the industrial action proposed by the National Union of Teachers on April 24.

I have highlighted the section in the young teachers' motion that shows that many young teachers are not likely to remain in the profession. Quite clearly they do not have such a rosy view of the job as you do.

As one delegate, Ian Murch, said during the debate on The Public Sector Pay Freeze, Teachers' Pay and Working Conditions: “One half of teachers leave within their first three years.” Should we not be worried at the waste of these professionals who have trained for four years in order to qualify for a profession that they were once keen to enter? Why do you think there is such a high drop-out rate amongst young teachers?

As our General Secretary, Steve Sinnott said during his address to the conference: “We are surrounded by people who have never been teachers. Why does Ofsted/Estyn fail to understand teachers' lives?”

PETER AYERS

Hon Secretary,

Broadland NUT

AFTER another “brainstorming” session by our leaders it was decided our care system needed a fresh look. Hooray, we all cried, about time too! However, what has happened beggar's belief. It has been decided to “phase out” social services carers and replace them with private companies, who let's face it are profit based.

Chaos has ensued. The system is broken, confusing and upsetting for all involved. Many clients, be it elderly or disabled, are being let down. There is now a situation where one household could be receiving care from two or three different places instead of one. There are situations where clients don't fall into the correct category of care any more and need to be assessed again - typical response being in two or three weeks time - and being left to fend for themselves for that period of time. Clients are told they are to find their own carers!

People are literally being thrown out of our hospitals with various ailments and into a bewildering network of confusion with regard to what care they are entitled to, who will provide it and what it will cost them financially. Many were under the care of social services carers before they went in, but after a short re-ablement period are being palmed off to private care firms.

Think about what that means to those who have no family, few friends and need stability in their lives. The carer, the one source of stability they have, who might have been with them for years is suddenly taken away from them.

It's a despicable thing to do to vulnerable adults.

The private care companies advertise week in and week out for carers, offer a wage barely above minimum with no expenses paid for extremely distressing, sometimes dirty and unpleasant work at unsociable hours. It takes dedication, patience, compassion and understanding to become a carer apart from all of the training, qualifications and red tape to cut through.

Unfortunately, many carers now being employed don't even have a basic understanding of the English language and are unable to communicate in the full sense of the word. How on earth do they manage the increasingly difficult medication charts and care standards documentation to which under legislation all carers should be working?

Those who think it is good to privatise the industry ought to visit some of the elderly and vulnerable adults that have so far been affected. The government is currently getting bad press about the state of our care homes - just wait, that is only the tip of the iceberg, this is all about untrained and checked people going into private homes - it could be your parents' next.

So what's happening with the social services carers? Some are paid full time hours to be on call, some are being run all over place doing a few calls here and there. Through all this confusion they are being told don't worry there will be plenty of work.

There is no port of call for problems, if the office is shut there is an answerphone. So this is progress is it?

I implore society to remember our old people have British culture and basic human rights. They are the ones who made Britain Greatand gave freedom of speech and fought for human rights. Or doesn't that count?

Name and Address withheld

I HAVE taken a keen interest over the past couple of issues of the Mercury regarding that famous comedian Frankie Howerd, especially as I had the privilege of working with him during his first performance in Great Yarmouth on the Britannia Pier, handling stage lighting.

I was in my late teens and although he was very much withdrawn whilst off stage I, together with a couple of other young stage hands managed to get him to play doubles on the tennis court next to the pier. This he really enjoyed and whilst relaxing afterwards on the grass he took it upon himself to forecast each of our futures. Upon reflection he was a far greater comedian and one very attached to his mother.

He always had about his person signed photographs similar to the one displayed and the one he gave me.

JOHN WINTERBURN

Mileham Drive

Aylsham

GARDEN waste collection and composting could have been a reality already if the council had been willing to work with us and live up to all its rhetoric about partnership working and involving the third sector.

Three years ago we started offering them a scheme based on successful operations elsewhere and a very well researched and costed report that would have resulted in a profitable social enterprise. It would have collected and composted garden waste locally and put all its profits back into regenerating run down green areas all over the borough.

The council showed no enthusiasm at all for the idea, sat on the final draft of the report for months, and there was no reply to a written request for a meeting. Finally, after much pressing, the council decided not to pursue the idea. The whole approach smacked of “we're in charge and don't bother us” which left us with no option but to shelve our plans and stop wasting our time searching for a site.

We also felt that the council just wanted to use its power to freeze us out and eventually take the work for its subsidiary company GYB Services, and how right we were.

Our scheme would not have needed people to house yet another wheelie bin but would have used compostable strong paper sacks; it would have created new jobs for unemployed people rather than pay GYB operators weekend working rates; not one penny would have been added to the rates bill; local composting would have been environmentally much more friendly than trucking it halfway across Norfolk; it would have been in good time to meet the 2009 landfill criteria and save the burden falling once again on local council tax payers.

If this does happen then all they have to thank is their self-centred, unimaginative and behind the times council.

BARBARA BRETT and DAVID NETTLESHIP

COMdotPOST

Gorleston

IT just goes to show the wide variety of problems we need to cope with to keep our natural resources for the whole community, reference the Mercury report two weeks ago about the council having to respond to disease and pests inflicting the borough's roadside trees.

Having also seen the large scars on the same grass verges in Lawn Avenue caused by the resilient pest known as blowtheneigboursmycarisprecious, I would suggest existing enforcement rather than paraquat would have a satisfactory outcome, but then again I could be wrong.

STEVE TAYLOR

Clarence Road

Great Yarmouth

MAY I congratulate, through your column, the very smart turn out of all the cadets from the eastern area at last Sunday's parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the Great Yarmouth unit. The smartness of all concerned was a credit to all who give their time voluntarily. All aspects of the parade, the Winterton Marine cadets band, the colour party, the guard and the divisions, the church service, and the reception, made me feel very proud.

From a former CO of the Great Yarmouth Unit, well done to all the young people (and oldies) taking part.

ROY BYE

Colomb Road

Gorleston

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