Great Yarmouth: In the News

Back Issues; Apr 1999 - Oct 1996


A European-style fair designed to boost Great Yarmouth's economy took another step forward on Wednesday. The borough council is considering a plan by town centre manager Martin Blackwell to hold a giant three-day christmas market - similar to those in Holland, Belgium and Germany.

It is hoped that the fair - which would have more than 100 stalls, fairground rides and marquess - will attract thousands of visitors to the town creating a major out-of-season tourist attraction. Borough councillors reacted positively to the scheme at the commercial management and estates committee meeting - despite learning that giving the go-ahead would mean a loss of 900 in car parking revenue.

Mr Blackwell has already been on a fact-finding tour of European markets and has followed the success of the Lincoln Christmas fair which attracts more than 150,000 visitors a year. Speaking at the meeting he said: "Provided we can get all the right pieces in place in time I would like the chance to have a go. By having stalls on the market place and in St Nicholas Church we are bringing the church back into the life of the town centre"

Mr Blackwell said local traders were backing the project. " This will not be in direct competition with the existing market. It is very different and will sell things such as candles, art and crafts, jewellary and clothing - very much designed as Christmas gifts"

The decision has been referred to the Finance Committee. If the proposal is successful, the Christmas Fair will run from December 5-7.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday April 2, 1999


Two local beaches will be displaying the coveted yellow flag this year as part of Tidy Britain Group's Seaside Awards 1999. Great Yarmouth central and Gorleston beaches achieved the levels of water quality and beach management needed to qualify for the flag. The awards were presented to Colleen Walker, environmental health committee chairman at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, in Bournemouth this week.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday April 2, 1999


A summer park-and-ride scheme for Great Yarmouth was approved by borough planners yesterday. The scheme, proposed by the town centre partnership, is due to operate on the five saturdays of August from Gapton Hall Retail Park.

Councillors agreed to contribute 500 to the 1500 scheme after hearing that Norfolk County Council and members of the business community were each paying the same. The service - provided by First Bus - will run every 10 minutes from 9am-5pm between Gapton Hall and the Market Place.

Details of the fares are still to be announced but are likely to be 40pence, with children travelling free.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday April 2, 1999


A proposed barrier reef off Caister won Government approval this week. The Ministry of Agriculture accepted plans for the 2 million reef, which will help to combat sea errosion and flooding.

Construction of the scheme, which in reality will consist of four separate reefs, is the third phase in a Great Yarmouth Borough Council Project. Phase one saw the creation of two rock armour groynes and phase two the creation of a rock armour 'berm' - a protective ledge - from California to Scratby to prevent cliff erosion.

Work on the reefs, which will help encourage beach regeneration as well as providing coastal protection, is expected to start in April. Borough Councillor leader Brian Walker said: "We are very pleased it is going ahead at last"

Work on the scheme will take place mainly at sea, according to the council, with minimal activity on beaches. Rock imported from Calais, France, will be brought to the site by barge and put into place using special equipment on boats. There is expected to be around 8000 cubic metres of seabed excavation and 32,000 cubic metres of rock and underlay.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 26, 1999


Great Yarmouth council taxpayers face one on the top 10 rises in bills in Britain, it has been revealed by Government figures. The borough's 11.6 percent hike puts it at number nine in the list of more than 500 local councils.

But the increase is still way behind the biggest - the 17.9 percent hike in bills in South Cambridgeshire. The Yarmouth increase from 685 to 775 for Band D properties was revealed by the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions. The figures also show that Norfolk's rise of 9.8 percent puts the county at fifth in the list of shire counties - with Suffolk comfortably mid-table with its rise of 8.4 percent.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 26, 1999


Civic leaders are to discuss again plans to put up a 100ft stainless steel sculpture foa herring on South Quay, Great Yarmouth. Members of the borough council agreed on Tuesday that the matter should go back to the leisure services committee for futher consideration.

On the agenda will be whether the proposed site on the revamped quay - near a viewpoint overlooking the River Yare oppostie Nelson House - is suitable. The area is currently being transformed into a tree-lined walkway alongside the river, with a carefully-designed car parking area and the viewpoint feature as part of a major regeneration scheme.

A plan to place a similar 800,000 sculpture at Ness Point, Lowestoft has been rejected by Waveney district counillors. At Yarmouth council's meeting, Jim Shrimplin supported the move to discuss the sculpture plan again. He said: "We have had a certain amount of friendly rivalry between us and Lowestoft. If this is something they don't want, I don't see why we should take their left-overs."

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 26, 1999


A 30,000 grant to comedian Jim Davidson to help pay for conversion of Great Yarmouth's Wellington Pier theatre into a revue bar was angrily attacked by a borough councillor this week. But Charles Reynolds, leader of the minority Conservative group, failed in a bid to get the matter discussed again at committee level.

He complained that by giving Mr Davidson the money - half the total cost of the Pavilion Theatre revamp - the council was 'giving a kick in the teeth to every small businessman who works in the holiday industry in the town'. He added: "these people are working all the hours God sends, day and night, and it is nothing short of scandalous to give one man 30,000 when he will be openly in competition with others."

Speaking at Tuesday's meeting of the full borough council, Mr Reynolds referred to a report in the Great Yarmouth Mercury that Mr Davidson had decided to scap his plans to spend 60,000 on the theare improvements. The comedian said this was because the borough grant - and another 20,000 set aside for council help with a lottery applicaiton for the pier - would replace an annual subsidy for the same amount.

The star said that the subsidy was needed to keep down the price of tickets. Mr Reynolds said that because of these comments the matter should go back to committee for further discussion.

Brian Walker, leader of the ruling Labour group said: "At the moment this offer remains on the table and I see no reason to withdraw it. People are getting very hot under the collar about this and a lot has been said in the Press. But at the end of the day the council will keep a cool head." he added "Nothing wrong has been done by this council. It is not a subsidy for Mr Davidson - it is a subsidy for the holiday industry.

Peter Williamson "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 26, 1999


Hundreds of Great Yarmouth Residents were evacuated after the discovery of the massive second world war bomb. The 500 pound bomb, packed with 300lbs of high explosive, was bought up from the River Yare at Yarmouth's South Quay by a dredger on Wednesday morning.

The device was brought up by the Admiral Day as it attempted to clear silt from the river around the Haven Bridge. The boat's captain notified the Port Authority and Coastguard who confirmed it was likely to be a bomb. Immediately the Vessel was steered away from the road bridge in the busy centre of the town and taken further down the quay to Atlas Wharf.

Echoes of the blitz spirit were apparent at the towns' two temporary evacuation centres at the Marina Centre, Yarmouth, and at Wroughton School, Gorleston, where many residents spent much of the night. Food was available and children were given toys. More than 100 beds were provided. Earlier the emergency services had put in place a full scale evacuation of the area and police officers cordoned off a 400 metre exclusion zone around the quay and advised residents and businesses to leave the area. Great Yarmouth College and Green Acre First and Middle schools were also evacuated.

Traffic Wardens were drafted in to seal off the roads surrounding the scene and an emergency hotline was set up to help advise people living nearby.

Bomb disposal experts were called in from Portsmouth and were met at the county border by police dispatch riders who guided them to the scene. Once at the dock the bomb disposal experts led by Lt Commander Martin Jenrick decided that it was too dangerous to move the ship out to sea due to poor weather conditions, and so they made safe the device on the ship and then sunk it to the bottom of the harbour for the night.

Preparations for the delicate removal of the German bomb began at 8am the next day (Thursday), when it was pulled up from the river bed and put on to a flotation device and towed out by a Naval inflatable craft accompanied by the survey vessel Compass. The journey, which was slow and painstaking because the craft had to force its way against a strong tide, began at 9:30am.

The exclusion zone around the device, reduced from 400 metres to 100 metres after the bomb squad's work had limited the impact of any detonations, was moved along with the team as it negotiated its way up river and through the harbour mouth. Safely out to sea, divers placed a charge on the bomb and it was destroyed at about 11:30am. Shockwaves from the explosion sent a tremor which could be felt in some of the seafront properties. One resident said it was like a heavy lorry going past.

Lt Cmdr Martin Jenrick said "Once the charge was laid the bomb was detonated and it went off with quite a crack. I'm pleased with how the operation went. I'm aware it caused some incovenience but obviously the safety of the public was paramount"

Police divisional commander Supt David Cushing praised members of the public for the way they had reacted and Michael boon, chief executive of the Port Authority, said that the operation had gone very smoothly.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday October 23, 1998

Mud could hold more devices

A second wartime bomb could be buried next to the Haven Bridge, near where the first device was discovered it was revealed yesterday. And a third could be lying undetected just under a mile away on the seaward side of the bridge.

The new danger was highlighted by a local historian as emergency squads stood down and evacuees returned to their homes and offices after the first 500lb German bomb found on Wednesday was taken safely out to sea. Percy Trett, said there had been wartime reports of a Luftwaffe Dornier Flying the length of the River Yare and dropping two bombs which straddled the Haven Bridge.Neither of them exploded and attempts to recover them were foiled by the deep mud. Mr Trett said: "I think that it was reported by the harbourmaster of the day, a Captain DV Sutton. It seems there could easily be another bomb somewhere near that spot."

Another historian, David Scarles, supported the theory: "There were an enormous number of unexploded bombs in the area. Every other raid seemed to leave them all over the place." He is now re-researching his records to see if he can find anything to substantiate the latest fears, but thinks that two incidents could tie in.

The first was in 1941, when a raid was carried out which seemed to concentrate more than usual on mechant shipping in the harbour. The second was in early 1943, when a Dornier 127 was hit by ground fire and jettisoned fuel and bombs near Haven Bridge.

Michael Boon, chief executive of the Port Authority said: "so much was dropped on the town that there is always a chance that something like this could happen. But people musn't forget that we dredge the river regularly and have done so for a number of years. I would not want people to be unduly alarmed."

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday October 23, 1998

Top Hotel gets a facelift

A Great Yarmouth seaside hotel is being restored to its former glory in time for next summer season. Property Tycoon Richard Cattermole has bought the New Cavendish Hotel, on the Golden Mile, and has pledged to renovate the Victorian building inside and out.

Mr Cattermole, who has also bought the Royal George Hotel in Lowestoft, is planning a total refurbishment of the exterior of the New Cavendish, restoring the railings and ornamental masonry to their original 1850's style. He said 'I am really excited, I had never intended to get involved in Great Yarmouth but this came along. Now I want this to be one of the town's top hotels.

"It will provide good service, reasonable prices and good food - which are things that all visitors have a right to expect." Most of the rooms will be renovated and four executive suites, a private dining room and two conference rooms will also be added. It is hoped that the investment into what was one of Norfolk's most famous hotels, will help improve the reputation of the town's accommodation following its exclusion from the WHICH? Hotel guide.

Work will begin on January 2 and should be completed within three months, ready for next year's visitos. The New Cavendish, which Mr Cattermole is set to rename the Hotel Elizabeth, is one of 13 hotels which he owns, including the Phoenix at Dereham and properties in Beccles, Newmarket and Haverhill.

Although Mr Cattermole refused to reveal how much he had paid for the family run business, he believes that once his plans for the hotel are complete it will be worth 1.4 million.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday October 16, 1998

I'm here to stay says comic Jim

"I'm staying at the Wellington", was the message from comic Jim Davidson last night. Speculation about the comendian's future at the Great Yarmouth - where his company took over the Wellington Pier and Winter Gardens - began when it leaked out that he had been having talks with the Threadwell family, whose company, Family Amusements, runs Britannia Pier further along the beach.

Davidson agreed yesterday that he hoped the Threadwells would also run the Wellington. "Stan Threadwell has done a brilliant job at the Britannia," he said. "But I shall still be putting on shows at the Wellington.

Davidson explained that his company, Effective Leisure, had lost in the region of 500,000 on the running costs of the Wellington in the last three years. But the real problem was the repeated failure of applications to the National lottery . Davidson said that he had spent 110,000 on applications, but the lottery always asked for more work. The Lottery had given him a grant of 50,000, but it still meant finding another 25,000 to put in another bid.

At that point, Davidson said, he had approached the Threadwells. Even if they do not ultimately take over the Pier, Jim said that his plan was to find other parties who would continue the applications and run the Wellington, while he rans shows at the theatre.

"We (Effective Leisure) will still be here at Yarmouth" Jim said.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday July 17, 1998

Another Traditional Store to close!

Great Yarmouth is set to lose another of its traditional shops when Plattens closes it doors for the last time. The Broad Row department store, a fixture in the town since the 1870s, is closing once all its stock has been sold.

Managing Director Richard Platten thinks that will be early in September but as he said; "Ive never had a closing down sale before". Mr Platten is nearing retirement and felt that the time was right to call it a day.

He said: "The last few years have been quite a fight. Yarmouth town centre is shrinking and there's no doubt that the out of town shops have hurt us." The shop employs 19 staff, all of whom have been there a long time. "I am concerned for them. We would rather have sold it as going concern". Mr Plattens daughters, Susan Notely and Jennifer Hannent, also work for the family firm, which was founded by Thomas Platten in King Street. The business moved to Broad Row in 1900 and was taken over by George Platten, who was mayor of the town in the 1920s. Richard Platten is his grandson.

Plattens is one of the few shops in the town which stocks school ties, and Mr Platten stressed that they had a delivery on the way and parents could still buy their children's ties in time for the new term.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday July 17, 1998

Manager's pledge to keep the public dancing in the streets

WANTED - top quality buskers to turn Great Yarmouth's Market Place into a thriving centre for street entertainers. Town centre Manager Martin Blackwell has been delighted at the sucess of up to a dozen performers who have entertained shoppers in the last year. Now he wants other quality acts to step forward to provide an even more lively and colorful town centre throughout the summer.

"I would love to hear from as many good acts as possible. Some have done it for charity, but we are able to make a contribution if they area good act", he said. The aim is to supplement a programme of events and summer Sunday shop opening with live entertainment.

Market Gates and High street store giants including British Homes Stores, WH Smiths, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's and Tesco will open on five Sundays throughout August. And on August 16, 23 and 30, bungee jumping will return to the Market place after proving popular last summer.

If you are interested in performing in the town centre then call Martin Blackwell on 01493 745828 (and tell him where you saw this information!)

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday June 19, 1998

Bradley's lotto boost for town

Comedian Bradley Walsh will host the National Lottery Draw from Great Yarmouth this summer - in a bid to keep his seaside town firmly on the entertainment map.

Bradley, who was a guest presenter on the National Lottery Draw earlier this year, suggested Yarmouth as a location for the live programmes' summer 'on the road' broadcasts. "When I finished I want to retire in this area - it is this area - it is a fantastic place and there isn't anywhere I would rather live," he said.

The comedian began his career at the Cromer pier, and catapulted to fame on ITV's, Wheel of Fortune. Bradley's relatives have a house in hemsby and the Walsh family spent Monday in the seaside village watching England's World Cup win over Tunisia.

"I insisted on doing one of the Lottery Shows from Yarmouth becuase I wanted to put something back into the area. I used to spend days in Yarmouth sitting on a deck chair after a show with whelks and jellied eels - the pace of life here is perfect"

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday June 19, 1998

Discount card to reward loyalty

A town centre discount card to reward loyalty of more than 20,000 Great Yarmouth householders will be launched this month. And regular Great Yarmouth Mercury readers will automatically qualify.

Around 40 borough businesses have joined the Yarmouth Citizen's discount card - launched in conjunction with The Mercury and Yarmouth Borough Council. The system works by rewarding householders in the borough for doing their shopping in the town with discounts and special offers.

"Research around the town showed us that an awful lot of people who don't live far from Yarmouth are doing their shopping elsewhere" said town centre Manager, Martin Blackwell. "We want local people to spend their money locally so we come up with this idea to encourage them"

The scheme, launched on June 29 by the town centre partnership, has attracted a variety of businesses including high street stores, building suppliers and car repair services. Around 42,000 householders in the borough will recieve a shoppers guide and application form through the post and around 20,000 of those will immediately qualify for the card.

To be eligible, shoppers must either have a regular subcription to the Great Yarmouth Mercury, or pay their council tax via direct debit. Alternatively one can be purhcased for 10.

Businesses already signed up include: The Great Yarmouth Mercury, Great Yarmouth Painters and Decorators, Thomas Cook Ltd, Church Belles, Yarmouth Borough Council, Norfolk Perfumery, Plaintain Ltd, Yarmouth Stores, Seasons Cafe and Patisserie, The Marina Centre, King Street Bookshop, B & C Prescott, Jewson, Folkes Antiques and Jewellery, The longbar, Skylights, Zaks, G & G Qualilty Butchers, M & M Tyres, David Mobbs Ltd, Swift Taxis, Great Yarmouth Glass, The Gallon Pot, Snappy Snaps, Home Elegance, Philip John Jewellers, Brahams Fashions, Peter Howkins Jewellers, Crown Eyeglass, Greenacre's Butcher, EA Barnes & Sons, Hill House Hammond, Palmers, Yarmouth Pet Stores, Cyclin, Mr T's Hotel & Restaurant, Homestyle by Fads.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday June 19, 1998

Notice of Council Tax 1998/99

Local Government finance Act 1992

The council of the Borough of Great Yarmouth hereby gives notice that, at its meeting held on 24th February 1998, the Council, in accordance with Section 30 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, set the following amounts of Council Tax for the year commencing 1st April 1998 to 31st March 1999 for each of the categories of dwellings in its area shown below:

Valuation Bands
Parishes of:
Ashby of Oby460.41537.14613.88690.62844.09997.561151.031381.24
Belton with Browston463.81541.10618.41695.72850.321004.921159.531391.44
Burgh Caister463.24540.44617.65694.87849.281003.691158.111389.74
Fritton with St. Olaves463.74541.02618.32695.62850.201004.781159.361391.24
Ormesby St Margaret with Scratby460.41537.14613.88690.62844.09997.561151.031381.24
Ormesby St Michael464.85542.32619.80697.28852.231007.181162.131394.56
Repps with Bastwick464.81542.28619.75697.23852.161007.101162.041394.46
West Caister464.75542.21619.67697.14852.051006.971161.891394.28
All other parts of the Council's area460.41537.14613.88690.62844.09997.561151.031381.24

Out of Blue, end in the RED

The seaside epic, Out of the Blue - dubbed "Don't have a clue" by critics - has plunged into the red, leaving debts totalling 40,000!

And this week the finances of the event, which was billed as "spectacular science fiction" which would "raise the profile" of Yarmouth, were branded an "absolute disgrace". The event organised by Seachange cost 270,000 - around 20,000 more than anticipated.

When the shortfall in expected income is added, the company is likely to face a debt of 40,000, owed to its acting "banker" Great Yarmouth Borough Council. Tory leader Charles Reynolds stormed: "It is an absolute disgrace. The event was a total flop and not only is there a massive debt but I expect, if you include all the time and effort spent on this by the officers, you almost double that figure."

And at a leisure services committee meeting this week, committee shadow chairman Kim Shrimplin said: "This money could have been spent in other ways. We have the ratepayers of this borough to consider." The project received grants of more than 200,000 from the lottery and other organisations, including a 28,000 grant from Yarmouth Council. It re-couped around 27,000 in ticket sales.

Eric Lindo, consultant to SeaChange, said the company missed out on some expected funds, including around 12,000 from a dinner which was cancelled in the wake of the death of Diana. Unforseen production costs including extra safety requirements, expensive lighting, sound equipment and costumes also threw the books off balance. Mr Lindo said:

"The project was undertaken to involve all members of the community and bring everyone together, and from that point of view it was a huge success. It generated a lot of commercial activity and attracted thousands of extra visitors. We did this to raise the profile of the borough of Yarmouth and that was 100 per cent successful."

SeaChange a partnership of 28 private sector companies, 36 community organisations, Yarmouth Port Authority, Yarmouth Tourist Authority and the Yarmouth Marketing Initiative, will receive 320,000 specifically for future events from the arts lottery fund, but the money cannot be used to clear debt. The company plans to purchase a building and transform it into an arts and media centre which they hope will generate enough funds to pay the council back.

After the Gorleston production in September, damning national press reviews dubbed it "a fiasco if totally catastrophic proportions" and a "spectacular failure". But organisers insist it generated and attracted over half a million pounds and received only 10 per cent negative publicity.

Chairman of the leisure services committee, Owen Lloyd, said: "There are lots of benefits and lots of spin-offs from Out of the Blue and the negativity is sad."

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 6, 1998

They're Bike Racks on Rails

Cyclists in Great Yarmouth can let the train take some of the strain. For Anglia Railways has fitted out its fleet with special bike racks designed to take four cycles on each journey.

Even better news, says keen cyclist and Great Yarmouth borough councillor Mike Taylor, is the unveiling of a cycle rescue deal. Included in the price of a 1 cycle ticket is an insurance pledge. So, if you are stranded when your bike breaks down, a quick phone call will send rescuers your way. Mr Taylor, who attended the scheme's launch in Yarmouth, said: "It is a wonderful idea - very innovative. Both projects will encourage people to take their bikes on the train."

"It is the first step on the way back to the good old days." The 1 cycle fare is a flat rate, replacing previous 3 single and 6 return charges. Cycle parking is now available at all Anglia Railway stations, too, and time restrictions for cycle carriage have been removed. The insurance scheme is being run in partnership with the Environmental Transport Association.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 6, 1998

Gorleston up for a Miss

Gorleston is set to enjoy a fine carnival tradition with the launch of the Miss Gorleston competition. The town is reviving the raft race after being excluded from this year's Great Yarmouth carnival parade - but organisers Gorleston In Gear deny the contest is a direct challenge to their neighbour's carnival queen.

Member Carol Low says their is no rivalry between the town events. "Its just a bit of fun. Gorleston is a town on its own and deserves some of its own events. There will be two chances to become carnival queen now."

Miss Gorleston 1998 will also be open to entrants from other towns, and hopefuls are asked to send in an entry form together with a small photograph to The Cliff Hotel by April 30. Preliminary rounds will be held at the hotel on May 6, and the finals will be marked with a celebration evening on June 6.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 6, 1998

Tourist Tempter snow joke . . . .

Snow may have been falling and temperatures plummeting, but all thoughts were on Great Yarmouth's summer season at the launch of the town's new tourist brochure on Wednesday. Hopes are high that the new guide, headlined Greater Yarmouth is for Lovers . . . of Great Holidays, will attract more young families to the resort.

Inside, Yarmouth is billed as being the ideal place for lovers of fun, great beaches, heritage, shops and shows. Around 200 people who work in the industry, filled Yarmouth's Vauxhall Holiday Park to hear tourism chiefs outline their plans to sell the town to Britain. An estimated six million people visited the resort in 1997, injecting more then 275 million to the local economy, making it one of Britain's leading tourit destinations.

Around 250,000 will be spent publishing the brochure and distributing it across the country in the town's battle to fend off competition from sunshine holidays abroad. And the battle for tourists is set to intensify when a television advert is launched next year. Alan Carr, Great Yarmouth Borough Council's tourism officer, said Yarmouth had something for everyone.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday December 19, 1997

Musuems revamp for hidden history

Great Yarmouth's hidden history could be brought to life as part of a major project to revamp its museums. The South Quay Heritage Project aims to tell the story of how Yarmouth People used to live and the town's rich maritime heritage.

The scheme involves modernising displays, some of which were designed 40 years ago. And from Monday, local people have had the chance to air their views at a town library exhibition detailing a series of proprosals. They include the history of an Elizabethan House and a family's key role in the English Civil War and a mock-up of a typical fisherman's home in the last century. A centrepiece of the heritage trail would be an old courtroom display at the Tolhouse telling the story of how the justice system developed and some of the gruesome punishments meted out.

Two historic Row houses behind South Quay, currently empty, could show what life was like for the poor people of the town, where whole families would live in just two rooms. Organisers are also planning traffic-calming measures and special walkways to mark out a visitors' trail.

Rachel Kirk, project administrator, said: "The collections and displays we have at the moment don't really reflect the history of Yarmouth well. We want to present it in a much more exciting way." She said the scheme was not just about bringing displays up-to-date but helping to rejuvenate the area by attracting visitors.

"People are very proud of Yarmouth's history and we want to show that history in a more contemporary and accessible way." Musuems officer Sheila Watson said she was convinced Yarmouth would benefit greatly from the revamp, for which 500,000 funding has already been secured via the South Denes regeneration budget of 8.7 million.

The project is a partnership between the Great Yarmouth Museums Service, the National Trust, English Heritage and the Library Service. The exhibition will be at the Library until January 9th, 1998.

By Matthew Ware "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday December 19, 1997

A towering investment

Great Yarmouth has a new landmark on the industrial skyline after taking delivery of a 1.5 million port crane this week. The 250-tonne crane is the biggest single investment in the port and will tower more than 50 metres above Atlas Terminal. It took most of Monday to unload it from the 1655-tonne ship Sea Magular on to the South Quay.

It was transported in 25 sections from the Liebherr works in Austria, the heaviest being the 72-tonne undercarriage with its 48 wheels. Port Authority staff have been on a technical training course to the Austrian works and are looking forward to handling the crane, which is a world leader.

Port commercial and marketing manager, Mark Goodall said: "It's a first-rate product. Its versatility alongside our existing three cranes bought over the past three years, gives Yarmouth an outstandingly flexible and efficient crane service." The Peterhead Crane Company was brought in to lend its 400-tonne capacity crane to that of the port's own three NCK cranes. The mobile harbour crane will be in use by mid-January. It has a 63-tonne lifting capacity at a radius of up to 22 metres and its mobility will enable it to be used on a number of Port Authority Berths.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday December 19, 1997

Refugees to keep coming

Asylum seekers will still be seeking refuge in Great Yarmouth early next year - despite a ruling against one London borough which said refugees should not be forced to live outside the capital. And Yarmouth councillors said they still had "real concerns" about the move, despite a three-hour meeting this week with Westminister City Council which was designed to allay fears over responsibility for the refugees.

Three single refugees have already been placed by Westminister Council at Yarmouth's Ambassador Hotel because of a desperate housing shortage in London - and Yarmouth councillors confirmed that up to 65 more could be placed in the 36-bedroomed hotel by February. Brendan Bergin, head of housing and architecture said: "We still have extremely real concerns, mainly for the refugees who can't speak English and will have no money."

The asylum seekers will mainly be made up of young single men from Eastern European Countries, although some will be couples. Mr Bergin said: "Some will share rooms, and Westminister council will send Social Workers and Environmental Health officers up each week to monitor the situation. But we are concerned particularly about refugees becoming vunerable and isolated."

Council leader Brian Walker said: "Its not as though we are being infiltrated. The maximum number of refugees will be 65, and our main concern was that they would be dumped here and left to their own devices with no support."

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday December 19, 1997

Dual-carriageway to motorways essential for County's Economic Growth

The County Council has told the government that Norfolk must have a good basic trunk road network linked to the national motorway system if it is to realise its economic potential. Replying to a Government consultation paper on road policy, the County Council says there is a strong case for road improvements to help the local economy.

It says it is no coincidence that the least accessible pasts of the region - including Great Yarmouth - have the most serious economic problems and the highest unemployment. It says:

  • In East Anglian 97% of all passenger travel and 98% of goods are moved by road:
  • There is less scope for moving people and goods from one form of transport to another than in more urbanised regions:
  • The region has had less than its share of national investment in both Trunk Roads and local transport:
  • The Government criteria - of integration, accessibility, safety, economy, environment - justify improvements to East Anglia's Trunk road system.
The order of route priorities identified by Norfolk is:
  • Completion of the dualling of the A11; Norwich is the only city of its size not connected by dual carriageway to the national network.
  • Dualling the A47 between Norwich and Gt Yarmouth which forms part of a single continuous route to Gt Yarmouth and Lowestoft and which have the highest unemployment in East Anglia.
  • Comprehensive improvements of the A47 between Norwich and the A1. The A47 serves areas in Fenland and rural Norfolk whose economic disadvantage is recognised by national and European designations. The A47 is the only Trans European route in England which is mainly single carriageway.

"Norfolk Report" December 1997

Norfolk Financial Summary 1996-97

The money the County Council Spen in 1996/97 came from:- This is how it was spent:
Non-domestic rate 157.9m Education 345.6m
The Precept 118.5m Social Services 144.9m
Govt. Revenue Support Grant 165.8m Highways & Transportation 50.1m
Govt. specific grants 49.6m Fire Service 17.8m
Charges for Services 92.0m Trading Standards 1.7m
Contribution from balances 11.2m Library & Information Services 9.1m
Capital charge reversal 42.0m Musuems Services 4.2m
Surplus on Collection funds 2.7m Other Services 66.3m
Total Gross Income 639.7m Gross Expenditure 639.7m

"Norfolk Report" December 1997

Carnival Cash Joy

A mystery backer is to pump cash into next year's Great Yarmouth and Gorleston carnival to make it the best the town has ever seen, it emerged yesterday. Carnival committee chairman David McDermott said the town's summer showpiece had survived for years on a shoestring budget.

The sponsership package is believed to be worth at least 3000 and comes after Mr McDermott crticised the lack of council funding in a letter to the Great Yarmouth Mercury. "We've been struggling for a long time to get some backing from the local industry since the council decided they didn't want to be linked to it," he said.

"Every year we have to go out with a begging bowl to scrape money together, and now I'm delighted that a company has come forward to pay for the whole thing. With this money, plus whatever we can raise through our super local firms, we can put on an excellent carnival and help out far more charities."

The identity of the sponsor, believed to be a national chain with a town centre branch, was due to be announced at the committee's annual meeting last night. (Thursday 24th October). Mr McDermott said having the money in place would enable the committe, set to double in size to 20 members, to run the carnival more professionally.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday October 24, 1997

Plea to council: Buy in CCTV

Great Yarmouth's town centre manager Martin Blackwell has called on councillors to back plans for a network of closed-circuit cameras in the town. "Given the benefits of CCTV, we must find a way, as so many other towns have done, of making it a reality," Mr Blackwell said.

His plea comes after seeing the final results of a 5000 CCTV feasibility study funded by local businesses, which could set the ball rolling for investment in a six-figure system. The survey, due to be shown to councillors next Friday, recommends a network of 24 cameras to be used to cover key areas around the busy town. Town centre partnership chairman, Labour councillor John Holmes, said the council approved the idea in principle, but could not fund the project.

He added, "I am concerned about the rise in violent crime and like many of my constituents would like to see Yarmouth made a safer place." Mr Holmes said there was a chance funding could be found through the Government's Safer Cities scheme, but CCTV in Yarmouth is certain to need private sector investment.

Gloria Doyle, whose Regent Ward constituency covers possible town centre camera sites, backed the plans. She said "All the residents I meet are very much in favour of CCTV. Personally I think it is a good idea. People shouldn't be afraid of it because I don't see how it can do any harm at all - look at the other towns which use it."

Yarmouth's population of 86,000 was dwarfed by the three million or so visitors who patronise the town each year. Police statistics showed that while it had only 11.7 per cent of Norfolk's population, its crime rate was 19.6 per cent of the county total, he said.

Mr Blackwell commissioned the survey this summer after feedback from local people. The report identified three key areas which would benefit from CCTV; Market Place, Marine Parade and South Quay. Superintendent Chris Burgess, of Yarmouth Police, backed the study.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday October 17, 1997

Euro Boost for Port

A bid to turn Great Yarmouth into a gateway to Europe is this week given further hope. Yarmouth is one of just seven UK ports which has been awarded a 62,000 feasibility grant from the European Union. The cash will be used to fund research into how well a proposed Outer Harbour would stand up against storms, high tides and prevailing winds.

Scientists is Buckinghamshire will use computer models to demostrate which would be the most effective design for the much-needed outer harbour project. They are also looking at what effect the outer harbour would have on the strength and depth of tides along the nearby Yarmouth and Gorleston coastlines.

The Outer Harbour project is seen as vital for consolidating Yarmouth's position as a port because it would be able to accommodate larger vessels. The grant money was awarded by the European Union to eventually enable a phased development of the scheme to handle traffic on the short sea route between Yarmouth and the Dutch port of Ijmuiden.

The eventual aim is to create a Yarmouth/Ijmuiden link, which as the shortest North Sea crossing would give Yarmouth the critical competitive edge over other East Coast Ports. Yarmouth port authority chief executive Michael Boon said: "This award is good news for Yarmouth. It has been a long compaign to place the port's Outer Harbour development finally within the European Transport Network programme and this initial award for assistance to our current hydraulic model study represents the successful climax of many months work."

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday October 3, 1997

Civic blues as epic is slated!

A political row broke out this week over Out of the Blue, the theatre epic staged to raise the profile of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston using the arts. As the long-awaited science fiction spectacular was dubbed "Don't Have a Clue", Labour borough councillors came under fire from their Tory opponents this week for "wasting" almost 30,000 on the "spectacular failure".

They faced a barrage of criticism from the opposition who quoted damming national press reviews on the production during a full council meeting. Tory councillors insisted the SeaChange project be reviewed after the ambitious Gorleston event was branded a flop. Leisure and services committee shadow chairman Jim Shrimplin quoted national reviews of the production.

"Reviewers called it 'a fiasco of totally catastrophic proportions', and said the director should be 'hanging her head in shame'," he said. "This town needs publicity but not of this sort. I am still mystified as to what the show was about - perhaps it was so arty it was above our heads."

But Owen Lloyd, leisure and services committee chairman, said: "An awful lot of local people have taken part in this event and they shouldn't have to hear this." Harry McGee told the meeting: "The public have been fantastic and reviews are just the opinion of one person."

But Gorleston Pavilion Theatre licensee Kevin Lynch said customers had stayed away from local business, despite an assurance from organisers that business would boom. "The whole thing was a disaster from day one. We were told everyone would benefit and we would get a lot of extra business, but the only thing we got was 200 cold people coming in to use our toilets after the performance. The road closures meant our customers had trouble getting through, and instead of selling around 40-50 tickets we sold just two!"

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday October 3, 1997

Sizzler of a season for resort

August's sizzling summer temperatures lured thousands of extra holidaymakers to Great Yarmouth this year - making it one of the country's most popular holiday spots. The 'magic eye' at the tourist information centre recorded top visitor numbers since 1993, with around 56,000 tourists floaking to the resort in August alone.

A report by Yarmouth Borough Council shows Yarmouth as the third most popular British resort behind Blackpool and Torquay - with around six million visitors. Tourists are bringing almost 300 million into the Yarmouth area, and helping to support almost 10,000 full-time jobs. And tourism experts predict next year's figures will be even better because of this year's hot summer sunshine.

"The people that have come to Yarmouth and had good weather and a good time will come back back next year because of the happy memories," said Mike Rogers, publicity services officer at the council. The report, which will be discussed by councillors on Monday, shows nearly six million people visited the resort with 1.6 million of those staying at least one night.

Britain's tourism industry is worth 40 billion a year in revenue, and the British Tourist Authority expects domestic tourism to grow by 2.5 percent every year until the year 2000.

By Helen Ashworth "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday September 12, 1997

The struggle to revive Market Row

It was once part of a medieval symbol of wealth marking Yarmouth's position as the fifth rechest town in the country. But today, on one side of Market Row is a gaping hole where once proud 17th and 18th century shops stood; on the other, burned out premises are boarded up.

It is a sight which has angered many who simply want to know why nothing has been done to repair the street. But behind the derilict sites screened from view by wooden boarding is a complex sequence of events which have hampered attempts to breathe new life into Market Row. And for its part, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has found itself in an unenviable no-win position.

Conservation officer Steve Earl explained: "The fire destroyed not only people's livelihoods but it also destroyed a vital part of the character and history of this town. "But in trying to get Market Row restored to its former glory we have come up against problem after problem which has hampered our progress." A foretaste of things to come came when traders whose premises were destroyed by the fire took their insurance money and either bought new premises elsewhere or ceased trading in the town.

And just to complicate things further, the council found itself dealing with six separate insurers and five different loss adjusters - and many of the traders were under-insured. Private developers have also been enticed, but none have shown interest. The council has already bought on piece of derelict, weed infested land is spending 5000 on a feasibility study into a long-term solution.

The council now hope - with the aid of lottery cash - to rebuild on the vacant sites with the feasibility study looking at the best way of doing just that. Yarmouth's town centre manager Martin Blackwell said 13 of the 50 shops in Market and Broad Row were now empty. "There is no doubt that shop vacancy rates are rising at the moment and I am worried that as each month passes more businesses will close."

By Jacinta Towndrow "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday September 12, 1997

Coin Heralds giant payout by town

Converting slot machines to take the new 50p coin could cost Great Yarmouth 100,000, the director of a seafront attraction warned this week. With more than 350 million new coins flooding the nation's purses, costly changes will be needed for everything from arcade machines to parking meters.

John Thurston, owner of Circus Amusements, said: "Coin changes are never good news for the industry, but there is very little we can do about it. Older machines are obviously the hardest to alter, and some cannot be changed at all." The introduction of the 2 coin on November 3rd will also be a mixed blessing for operators.

Yarmouth Borough Council has a 4000 kitty to pay for updated microchips for its 20 Pay and Display machines. Engineering officer David Greasley said: "Thankfully the council had the foresight to budget for these changes last year."

A spokesman for the Royal Mint said the coin changes followed an extensive public consultation. The old coin can be used until February 28th 1998.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday September 12, 1997

Ahoy there for a new club

A floating nightclub could sail into Great Yarmouth if plans unveiled this week are approved. And clubbers in the town have welcomed the news, which could see more than 1500 revellers finding their sea legs on the boat's three-tier dance floors.

The 340ft Itchy Coo Princess would be moored on the River Yare at South Quay under plans submitted by Humberside-based South Water Leisure. Police last night raised no early objections to the plans despite fears that people might fall into the river after a night out on the boat. The proposed night club would be similar to the hugely-popular, 1650-capacity Tuxedo Royale moored on the RIver Tyne in Newcastle. Two youngsters have drowned in the last three years after either falling from that vessel or into the river nearby.

But Inspector Brain Gare of Yarmouth Police said he could see no problems here that his team of officers did not already face. "We already have trouble with people going in the river after they've been to nightclubs in the town at the weekends anyway, so I don't think that's a particular problem", he said.

By Matthew Ware "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday August 22, 1997

Concert postponed in face of police worries

A bid to stage a Bank Holiday music concert in Great Yarmouth Market Place was shelved this week because of police worries over the lack of planning. The police told the borough council they had "serious misgivings" about emergency provision for Seaside Rock due to be held this Sunday.

But after distributing over 2000 flyers advertising the free concert, organiser Duncan Edwards, 26, made a desperate 11th-hour search for a new venue. Unfortunately neither approaches to Yarmouth Racecourse nor an offer from Canon Michael Wood, rector of Yarmouth, to hold the community event in nearby St Nicholas Church could provide a suitable alternative, and Mr Edwards this week postponed the show.

Mr Edwards had his efforts backed by a 3500 Arts Council Lottery Grant and 200 from Yarmouth Council. But police said that Mr Edwards had not made proper provision for emergency services to attend and withheld their consent for the show. Mr Edwards is now seeking an alternative venue and date.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday August 22, 1997

Delight at best GCSE results

Students in Great Yarmouth were yesterday celebrating best-ever GCSE results as the percentage of A-C grade passes climbed to an all time high. Delighted headteachers put better grades down to hard work and better preparation as the proportion of A-C passes rose across the board nationally by 0.4 per cent.

At Acle High School the percentage of A-C grade passess rose around 4 per cent from last year's results, with 50.5 per cent of students achieving C and above. Headteacher Ian Clayton said: " I am delighted. We were expecting an A-C pass rate of around 46.4 - the same as last year, but my students have performed better than their predictions. The overall pass rate has stayed similar but it is a question of tightening up at the top end."

Great Yarmouth High School students achieved seven per cent more A-C grade passes this year, with the number of pupils gaining C and above increasing from 29 to 38 per cent. Deputy headteacher, Edward Loftin, said: "We are very pleased with the progress we have made, and have seen a general improvement in all subjects."

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday August 22, 1997

Bread, butter and lots of jam

Great Yarmouth is filling up for the bank holiday weekend. 'No Vacancies' signs have gone up all over the resort and phones at hotels, holiday centres and boarding houses have been ringing non-stop as thousands of families try to squeeze in for the busiest days of the year.

Borough Coucil tourism officer Alan Carr said: "We have had a brilliant August due to the weather and the bank holiday looks set to be jam packed." With most of the 100,000-bed resort crammed with paying guests, families arriving "on-spec" could easily find themselves with no place to stay. Police expect a few to wander in at the weekend with no bed, and hoteliers say they have to turn away latecomers every year.

Paula Berry, senior receptionist at the seafront Imperial Hotel, said: "It's hard to believe but some people don't think they need to book for the most popular day of the season. Families even end up sharing one room and sleeping on the floor. We can direct them to other places but sometimes you have to wonder what happens to them when they come in late at night!"

Despite a capacity of more than 3000, the Vauxhall Holiday Park is also brim-full for the weekend with booking office staff still taking at least 100 calls a day. But while the heatwave gives guest house landlords the chance to fill up their rooms, leaner times in the winter months mean none of them like turning away business.

David Lawrence, who runs the Devlin guest house in Trafalgar Road, said: "This is the only time any of us make proper money, and it's a case of storing it up to tide you over later on. But when a good crowd comes in I feel like I'm on holiday myself!"

By Matthew Davis "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday August 22, 1997

Resort shops ahead of coastal rivals

Shopping facilities in Great Yarmouth are better than those in regional rivals Lowestoft and King's Lynn, according to a survey released this week. Researchers Experian surveyed 13 East Anglian centres - looking at size vacancy rates and vulnerable stores - and Yarmouth claimed a creditable sixth places behind larger towns.

Town centre manager, Martin Blackwell said the result was a boost to the town, which has around 600,000 square feet of shopping space. He said: "This is something to build on in the coming year. Yarmouth has a lot of unique features and a very diverse range of shops. Two big chains have recently joined the town centre and I am hopeful a few more will come soon."

Yarmouth currently has a vacancy rate of about 12 per cent, which Mr Blackwell hopes to reduce to 10 per cent. Norwich topped the East Anglian section of the survey, which examined 1100 centres in the UK.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday August 22, 1997

Victoria's Lovely suprise

It was, in the end, Victoria Holmes' night when she became the new Miss Great Yarmouth Mercury. But she could not believe it. "I just did not expect to win. There were so many lovely girls there", said Victoria, who also becomes the new Yarmouth and Gorleston carnival queen.

And the first major engagement of her year will be to lead the carnival procession through Yarmouth and Gorleston on August 17. Victoria's prize is 200 from the Mercury and a three-day continental holiday from Gorleston travel firm Departure Lounge.

Runner-up Emma Plant, from Bradwell, receives 100 from the Mercury and a make-over given by Boots. And third-place Katie Allen, from West Caister, receives 75 from the Mercury and a dinner for two donated by June Baldry. Although she has spent a season as an entertainer at a local holiday park, Victoria, 22, said that she was more nervous at the final at the Marina Centre than she had ever been on stage. "I was just shaking. When they called my name, I had to be pushed out!"

She received her winner's sash from last year's Miss Mercury and carnival queen, Natasha Lacey. During the evening the candidates trod the catwalk as they modelled a selection of fashions provided by local stores, and were interviewed before the judges and the audience.

Miss Miss Yarmouth Mercury 1997; Victoria Holmes

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday July 18, 1997

Jobs Boost

Holiday jobs have cut unemployment in Great Yarmouth. As the jobless total nationally fell to its lowest level for more than seven years, Yarmouth reported a drop in Norfolk local authority areas in June. As the holiday industry got into full swing, the number of work fell by 470 to 3428. During the month Norfolk Employment service found jobs for 1443 people, placed 122 people in training and handled 2574 vacancies.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday July 18, 1997

Animals back in circus ring

Lions and elephants will return to Great Yarmouth's Hippodrome circus next week after being banished from the circus ring last summer. Peter Jay, who has run the circus for 18 years, boldly left the animals out of the line-up last year as an experiment - breaking with 93 years of tradition.

But business suffered and now Mr Jay has decided to buck the trend of many circuses by bringing back for the final season at the Hippodrome - much to the delight of traditional circus fans. "The number of people who refused point blank to enter the building last year was unbelievable. My business was cut in half," he said.

"I think I will get flak about my decision but not having animals worked the other way - people were syaing if there were no animals they weren't coming in." According to Mr Jay, the world's most successful circuses almost always include animals. And with Chipperfield's lions and the Circus Americano elephants back in the ring, Mr Jay expects to see the Hippodrome's seats filled. The historic venue has large purpose-built stables at the back and an outside exercise cage for the animals.

RSPCA inspector Pat Wilson said: "We are opposed to performing animals and the applies to Peter Jay and all circuses. We will attend one of the shows early in the season as a matter of course so that we will be able to answer questions if anybody has any complaints".

By Emma Birchley "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday July 18, 1997

"Keep off the water" warning

An elderly sailor rescued after attempting to sail the North Sea in a boat "unfit for the Norfolk Broads" was urged yesterday not to go back to th water.

Eddie Bailey was rescued by the crew of the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat after a Dutch fishing boat spotted his crippled motor cruiser drifting 35 miles off Great Yarmouth at lunchtime on Wednesday. The 61-year-old from Essex had set off on Monday afternoon without the most basic of navigation or safety equipment, intending to sail from Burnham-on-Crouch to Southend. But on Tuesday evening the 26ft Blue Water ran out of fuel and Mr Bailey was left stranded without a radio and drifting north towards Yarmouth

The boat was spotted by a Dutch fishing vessel on Wednesday and the crew radioed coastguards in Ijmuiden, Holland, who alerted their counterparts in Yarmouth. Despite being given five gallons of diesel, Mr Bailey failed to start the wooden-hulled cruiser and the lifeboat finally towed him back to Yarmouth at about 9:30pm.

Yesterday, Seafarer's centre welfare officer John Cooper urged the pensioner not to set sail again. "It was only through God's intervention that this man got here safely. We can't send him into the North Sea thinking that he's to intervene again. This time we would be sending him out almost certainly to his death because that boat wasn't fit to be on Wroxham Broad.

Mr Bailey said he had been sailing for 10 years and admitted yesterday he was not fully prepared. "I will hold my hands up and say I was foolish. Next time I go out I will have a life jacket and a radio", he pledged.

By Matthew Ware "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday June 27, 1997

Buildings trust rising to monumental challenge

An historic Great Yarmouth landmark which needs vital renovation work costing 100,000 could soon be given a new lease of life. Nelson's Monument was closed to the public last year as part of an economy drive by Norfolk Museum's Service, which took over its upkeep in 1975.

But now the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust has stepped forward offering to take on the repairs and management of the crumbling 144ft column. The future of the 180-year-old monument in South Denes looked bleak after English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund refused to commit to funding the repairs following preliminary inquiries by the County Council.

But trust representatives believe they are in a good position to raise enough cash to attract such national grants. Member of the county council's property and finance sub-committee will meet on Tuesday to consider transferring the management of the momument to the trust.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday June 27, 1997

Digging up our history

To the untrained eye, it might appear to be just a hole in the ground. But to the experts, it is an open treasure chest revealing the secrets of Great Yarmouth's past . . .

Archaelogists have been busy excavating part of a site where some of the town's earliest inhabitants lived nearly 1000 years ago. Their digging on the site of the old Lacon Brewery Store has uncovered remains dating back to the 11th Century - and traces of buildings which help to piece together the jigsaw of Yarmouth's history since Norman times.

The archaeologists arrived on the site, which lies between Fullers Hill and North Quay, a few weeks ago after workmen began demolishing the old brewery store to make way for a new supermarket. So far, their finds included the remains of rubbish thrown out by householders in the 11th century, foundations and floors of buildings erected between the 12th and 14th centuries and a well, probably built in the 18th century.

But even these finds do not shed light on the origins of Yarmouth as a settlement. Yarmouth is mentioned in the Domesday Book so it pre-dates that, but what was happening earlier is largely unexplored," said Mr Donald from Norfolks' Archaeological Unit.

By Simon Stevens "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday June 27, 1997

Pier gets a 50,000 big break boost

Comedian Jim Davidson's bid to restore the Wellington Pier at Great Yarmouth to its former glory received a 50,000 lottery boost this week. The Arts Council handout will be used by the pier's charitable trust to prepare a bid for 3 million Heritage Lottery fund grant.

The money is needed to transform the rundown pier, theatre and Winter Gardens on the resort's Golden Mile. This week's 50,000 payout was one of 69 projects across the country to benefit from funds, totalling nearly 25 million. Mr Davidson, who has 25-year rent-free deal on the pier from the borough council, has already carried out a 500,000 revamp of the Grade II listed Winter Gardens.

He has transformed it into a popular nightclub, and plans a major investment programme over the next five years. Plans at the Winter Gardens include adding four new bars, 40,000 worth of plants and a moveable stage with hi-tech laser and sound systems. It will be designed so the nightclub can be removed in the winter and the venue will then become a skating rink or function room.

A trust fund to attract funds has been set up with Lord Rix by Mr Davidson, who also wants to house an inshore lifeboat at the end of the pier.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday June 27, 1997

Wraps coming off sports complex plan

First sketches showing a proposed new Gorleston sports complex will be unveiled to the public next week. Lottery money is the key to the project, the largest of its kind locally since the Marina Centre was built nearly 20 years ago.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has joined forces with the county council to press for the new 1.6 million sports hall at the Shrublands Youth and Adult Centre. On Wednesday, residents will get the chance to hear a presentation and comment on the application to secure lottery funding for the scheme. The hall will house five badminton courts, which could be used for other activities such as football, gymnastics and roller-skating.

A weight-training room, aerobics studio, changing rooms, showers and toilet are also included in the proposals, as is a social area with a coffee bar and a car park. Borough Council Leisure services chairman Owen Lloyd said Wednesday's meeting was a chance to hear what local people thought of the proposals.

"This is really something to look forward to. There has been nothing of such importance planned in terms of sport since the Marina Centre was built in Yarmouth".

It is hoped that a high percentage of the cost will be met with a lottery grant as Gorleston has been identified as an area in need of more sports facilities.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday May 30, 1997

Brent Spar 'rings' plan fear addressed

Residents' fears about plans to use the Brent Spar oil rig to build sea defences off the coast at Winterton were voiced at a meeting on Tuesday. Dozens of people filled the village's Church Room for the debate staged by engineering giant Amex which wants to cut up the redundant rig and use it to help defend the coast from the sea.

The company - one of six shortlisted by rig owners Sheel to dispose of the 140-metre structure - presented details of how the steel rings would help protect the delicate coastline. Residents fired questions at executives from Amec, the Environment Agency and Shell on issues ranging from the environmental effect of the scheme to the consequences for fishermen.

Jeremy McTeague, Amec's communications executive, said: "I was pleased with the turnout. The meeting was constructive and positive. People voiced genuine concerns which we were able to deal with. The meeting is a critical part of the process."

Amec's scheme will entail lowering the rings, which are 29 metres in diameter, in groups of four on to the seabed, filling them with sand and surrounding them with rock. Mr McTeague added that the scheme would not go ahead if residents were unhappy with the proposals.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday May 30, 1997

'Shilts' in goal to aid appeal for hospital

Soccer legend Peter Shilton will throw his weight behind the James Paget Hospital Scanners Appeal on Sunday (4th May) when he turns out in a charity football match at Great Yarmouth.

And the London-based organiser of the match has pledged to work tirelessly until the appeal reaches its 500,000 target after losing both his father and a close friend to cancer. Goalkeeper Shilton, England's most capped footballer, will team up with ex-Canary Dale Gorden and former Luton striker Brian Stein as guest stars in a team representing Turkish giants Galatasaray.

The all-star team will take on Martham Gootball Club at Wellesley Road, in a bid to raise the 75,000 still needed to pay for the new MRI scanner. Appeal co-ordinator Tony Dunn greeted the "tremendous news" that Mr Beyaz, organiser of the match, had chosen to help the hospital.

By Matthew Ware "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday May 2, 1997

Endeavour sails off on world voyage

The Endeavour sailed out of Great Yarmouth on Tuesday (April 29th) after welcoming around 18,000 visitors aboard in just 10 days. Crowds swarmed aboard the replica vessel to see for what life was like for sailors aboard Captain James Cook's ship of discovery.

And that led to bumper crowds for another historic vessel moored just yards away. Volunteers on the historic steam drifter Lydia Eva reported one of the busiest periods in their history while the Endeavour was in port. Vice Chairman of the Friends of the Lydia Eva, Stephen Daniels, said that the Endeavour had been a "great attraction".

"More than 1000 people have been on board on three days - and on Sunday we had 1534," he said. "We reckon for every two or three people going on board the Endeavour we had one."

Visitors to the Endeavour looked both above and below decks to get an idea of the cramped conditions faced by sailors during their voyage to Australia in 1768.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday May 2, 1997

Cash axe could send down ferry

An ancient passenger ferry could be sunk when a council subsidy is withdrawn. The Great Yarmouth to Gorleston ferry service has been taking passengers 100 yards across the River Yare since Norman times. Now Norfolk County Council has decided not to renew the contract for its operation when it expires at the end of the month.

The decision was based on a study carried out by Norfolk's planning and transportation department which revealed that it was no longer economical to subsidise the service. The ferry, which saves 550 people a week a four-mile journey via the Haven Bridge, has relied on the 25,000 cash input to stay viable.

Andrew Percy, of General Estates, which has run the ferry since 1907, said: "If we can't find alternative finance it will have to close - but probably not before the end of the summer. A combination of cost cutting and extra passengers will help us keep it running and we are making inquiries to see if there is any EC money available. For those people who use the ferry, it is very important and we would like to keep it going if we can."

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday May 2, 1997

Vessel to sail in with a bang

A volley of cannon fire will mark the arrival of an exact replica of a ship which sailed the oceans under one of the world's greatest explorers. The vessel is a copy of Captain James Cook's bark Endeavour - and she is due to sail into Yarmouth next Friday (18 April) at 2pm, firing her guns as she enters the mouth of the River Yare.

The ship will be calling into the port as part of a British tour which started in London last month and will finish in Jersey in September. And she will be open to the public for 10 days from next Saturday until April 28.

The ship was built in Australia - from original specifications from plans held by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich - and was launched in 1993. Cook's original Endeavour was a converted coal vessel; she started on her famous voyage of discovery from Plymouth in 1768 and took her captain and crew to the uncarted waters around many undiscovered Pacific islands as well as Australia and New Zealand.

The replica vessel will allow visitors the chance to experience what life was like onboard an ocean-going sailing vessel during the 18th Century.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday April 12, 1997

US Link-up big boost for port

Great Yarmouth's bid for a share of contract woth 10 billion - and stretch its offshore interests well into the next century - has won a major boost from America.

The port's offshore companies have been making a concentrated effort to persuade energy giants that they have a leading role to play dismantling North Sea gas platforms. And yesterday it was announced that the New Orleans-based Versatruss is to establish its UK operation in Yarmouth and team up with Ames Process and Energy in the chase for decommissioning work. That announcement comes on top of a report which forecasts the future of Yarmouth in the year 2020 - and sees the current economic problems giving way to a new prosperity.

Versatruss president Jon Khachaturian said: "Great Yarmouth as a centre of oil and gas expertise and with its proven capability over 30 years is the natural port for our North Sea operations. It will be a low-key operation to start with but the two companies expect to give the green-light to investment and longer-term job creation this summer.

The report looking at the future for Great Yarmouth has been produced by a group made up of borough council staff and authority and local industry, particularly with offshore interests. Port Authority chairman John Mowson said the view was that Yarmouth's problems had bottomed out, and recent encouraging signs were the plans for the new power station, new warehousing and cranage facilities in the port and investement for the leisure and tourism industry.

By the year 2020 the group's vision for Yarmouth indcludes:
* A busy European port.
* Dual carriageway links to the rest of the UK
* An electrified rail link providing multi-modal freight connections to the port with its deep water outer harbour.
* A centre of excellence for the energy industry and the manufacture of high technology equipment.
* A popular tourist and leisure spot.
* And a vibrant cultural centre.

Although the town has one of the highest unemployment rates in East Anglian and has been identified as an area of severe social deprivation where low pay is a major problem, the report's authors insist their vision is not just wishful thinking.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday April 12, 1997

Wraps off budget secrets

The exact price received from the sale of Great Yarmouth's Blue Buses is among the "cash secrets" revealed in the town's Budget for the coming year. The figures released this week, show the council got just over 1 million when it sold Norfolk's last publicaly-owned bus company to FirstBus in September.

Some critics of the controversial sale of the fleet and depot at Newtown believe the council sold the service off too cheaply. However, it was argued that because of the growing "bus-war" in the town the council had little option but to sell and FirstBus came up with the best deal. Budget figures show the exact sum received was 1,010,000.

Also revealed in the council's Budget for 1997-98 are:

  • The controversial Marina sports and leisure centre on Yarmouth seafront which has been recording loses of up to 1 million a year since 1979 is expected to cost 943,700 over the next 12 months.
  • The resort's beaches and promenades will cost local tacpayers almost 360,000 to run and maintain, and the seafront gardens more than 220,000.
  • The council-owned racecourse is expected to make a total profit of almost 50,000 from its 17 race meetings.
  • The bill for coast protection work is estimated at around 885,000 and flood prevention at just over 50,000.
  • The town's pay and display car parks are expected to raise 736,800 this year, giving a profit of 253,200.
  • The council-run crematorium at Gorleston is expected to record income of 343,500 giving a surplus of almost 100,000.
  • The council will have 390 full-time employees in 1998, compared with 373 in 1995.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday April 12, 1997

Big family pub plan unveiled

Great Yarmouth is set to get a new seafront pub in a 1 million-plus development which could bring as many as 60 new jobs. Whitbread Brewers Fayre wants to build the pub and restaurant on a prime site next to the Marina sports and leisure centre.

A confidential report from the company was discussed by the council's commercial management and estates committee this week and one councillor said: "This would be a massive boost for that part of the town." Whitbread spokeman Sarah Jobson said: "We have had initial talks with the council about putting a Brewers Fayre there. We are seeing what response we get before putting in a planning application."

A similar pub development opened near the Pleasurewood Hills theme park at Lowestoft, in Septmeber, creating 60 jobs. The Yarmouth pub is expected to be similar with a family pub theme. The Lowestoft pub has play areas inside and out and seating for 140 diners with 30 in the bar.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday April 12, 1997

Jet-Skiers hit another snag

Jet-Skiers who thought they had found a new home on a site near Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach after being banned from Gorleston look like being left high and dry this summer. It is the latest setback for the enthusiasts after Great Yarmouth Council banned them from Gorleston and then from a stretch of the town's beach between the Wellington and Britannia piers.

The council finally identified an area just to the south of the Pleasure Beach at Yarmouth for a launch site, allowing jet-skiers to use the water as far north as the Wellington Pier. But now ward councillors have objected to the proposals.

Nelson ward councillor Michael Jeal said: "If the area in Gorleston was unsuitable then so is this area of Yarmouth." The council issued the ban at Gorleston last September, deciding the danger and nuisance was too great. The jet-skiers had been moved from the seafront in Yarmouth the previous summer because of the safety reasons. And Yarmouth Port Authority is producing a bylaw prohibiting their use in waters it controls in the harbour mouth, also for saftey reasons.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday April 12, 1997

'Shout about town' job

A manager has been appointed with the aim of breathing new life into Great Yarmouth town centre. Martin Blakewell was chosen from a shortlist of four chosen candidates to fill the role of Yarmouth town centre manager, which is part of a new initiative to enhance the appearance, safety and prosperity of the area.

Mr Blakewell has been manager of WH Smith's Yarmouth branch for the past six years - and his new role, based at Yarmouth Chamber of Commerc, will be to maximise the potential of the town centre.

He said this week that his job would be to "shout about Yarmouth", especially to people who had not visited for some time and had not seen the superb job which the borough council had made of the Market Place. He added that he wanted to hear as many views as possible on the town centre - and invited anyone to make contact with him through the Chamber of Commerce.

The appointment comes more than a year after Yarmouth Town Centre Management Initiative steering group was set up. It includes representatives from Yarmouth Borough Council, Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Police, the Chamber of Commerce and Norfolk and Waveney Training and Enterprise Council. The aims include creating a wider range of activities in the town centre, increasing safety and sercurity and generating jobs.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 28, 1997

Tuesday marks the end of full-time fire crew

Plans to move all full-time firefighters from Gorleston will go ahead immediately after the Easter holiday, it emerged this week. The decision coincides with the suspension for "gross misconduct" of firefighter Dean Howes, who led the campaign to keep a full-time crew at Gorleston.

Norfolk County Council spokesman John Birchall confirmed that Gorleston would become a retained station from Tuesday - just over two weeks after the Home Office backed plans drawn up by Chief Fire Officer Bryan Smith. Meanwhile, a brief statement from the council said: "Mr Howes is alleged to have made statements to the media, concerning the Fire Service and decisions of the Fire and Counsumer Services Committee, which are untrue".

Mr Howes, a full-time fireman at Gorleston, was the union representative who fought a high-profile 10-month campaign to keep full-time staff at the station. The changes at Gorleston will see one of the station's two fire engines moved to Yarmouth with its full-time crew, leaving Gorleston as a retained station were firefighters report for duty only when called to an incident.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 28, 1997

SLOW DOWN - your on camera!

Drivers who speed along Great Yarmouth seafront risk being caught on camera this summer as police unveil their latest deterrent against law-breaking motorists.

A speed camera is being set up up on the resort's 30mph Golden Mile, now being targeted under a joint initiative between Norfolk Police and the county council. The box which will house the camera has already been erected on Marine Parade - a stretch of road popular with young drivers, dubbed the Jetty Boys or Seafront Racers, who speed up and down.

Chief Inspector Ray Browne of Norfolk Police traffic branch said that it was hoped to gave Marine Parade camera working before the summer. "Currently the boxes are going up, but the speed cameras are not operational at the moment. We are waiting for a decision to say when we go on line", he said.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 28, 1997

Last-ditch fight to save old brewery

A Great Yarmouth architect has launched an 11th-hour bid to save the town's famous Lacons brewery from bulldozers. And although David Jamieson, an architect for 31 years, admitted he might have left it too late to save the Whitbread depot on North Quay, he said his battle might help save other old buildings in the town.

Store chain Aldi has permission to demolish the brewery to make way for a 12,500 sq. ft. supermarket. But now Mr Jamieson, who is a borough council architect, has written to English Heritage in a last-minute bid to get the building listed to save it from demolition.

"In no way does it represent the stature of a Blenheim Palace, but it is a fine example of the workplace of the ordinary man in the street in a provincial town," said Mr Jamieson. English Heritage said that the building was unlikely to be listed because it was not of sufficient historical interest.

Lacons was a name once associated with a long tradition of beer brewing in Norfolk. Drinkers could order a pint of Lacons mild and pale ale or Oatmeal stout in a pub around the corner or in a city centre alehouse as far away as London and Newcastle. Lacons Falcon Brewery closed its doors in 1968 after a take-over by Whitbread and the main buildings were soon demolised. The depot is all that remains of the Lacons Brewery, which was demolished in 1974, ironically to make way for a Tesco's supermarket.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 21, 1997

Circus theme centre launch

Impresario Peter Jay has revealed a 1/2 million plan to turn Great Yarmouth Hippodrome into a family entertainment centre after saving the late licence on his Bourbon Street theme-bar.

The renovation will mark a new era for the circus building with the six-week summer season at the Hippodrome replaced by Circus World - an all year-round attraction. Mr Jay threatened to pull out of the resort earlier this week if the borough council refused to renew the licence on the New Orleans street-scene venue.

But now plans can be drawn up for the new venture, which will include: A musuem of circus memorabilia, The chance for children to try their hand at circus skills, Various professional circus shows, An adventure playground, A restaurant and theme bar.

Dozens of residents living close to Bourbon street filled the council chamber on Monday evening to protest against renewing the licence. They complained that noise from the venue has been unbearable since it opened seven months ago and that drunken revellers leaving the premises shouted, smashed glass and urinated outside their homes. But, after more than two hours of discussion, the licencing committee agreed unanimously to extend late licence for 12 months on condition a sound limit is set by the council.

By Emma Birchley "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 21, 1997

Waiting for Crash

It took five years to build - and will take less than 10 seconds to bring down.

The fate of Great Yarmouth power station chimney, has finally been decided. The chimney, which is Norfolk's tallest structure, will be blown up this summer in one of the most spectacular demolition jobs the county has ever seen.

The announcement from T Cox Dismantlers ends months of speculation about how to pull down the familiar 360ft chimney, which beats Norwich Cathedrals spire for height by 45ft. The two-year multi-million-pound demolition of the power station on Yarmouth's South Denes is nearing completion and the last step will be for experts to blow up the concrete chimney, probably in June or July. The operation, said to last only 10 seconds will be less dramatic than cooling towers being blown up as the steel-reinforced chimney is expected to collapse straight down into a pile of rubble.

Demolition of the main power station structure on the 20-acre site has already been a delicate operation as the massive building contained 4.5 million bricks and large amounts of asbestos. It is being demolished to make way for a new 170 million gas-fired plant which energy giant Amoco hopes to have up and running by 1999 with more than 300 new jobs created.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 14, 1997

Recycling table is misleading - claim

A League table placing Great Yarmouth at the bottom of the pile in waste recycling has been labelled misleading by the borough council. Performance indicators from the Audit Commission put Yarmouth last in a table comparing the percentage of household waste recycled by district councils in central England. The indicators compared the spending and services of local authorities across England and Wales.

According to the figures, Yarmouth recycles just 1.8 per cent of its household waste, compared with 3.6 per cent in Norwich, 5.6 per cent in Broadland and 6.5 in South Norfolk. The national average is 6 per cent.

But Yarmouth borough engineer and leisure services officer Bob Dornan insisted: "The true figure is more than 10 per cent, if all recycling activity is taken as a whole. The council is fully committed to encouraging and promoting recycling."

A Council statement said the league table figure related to the council's waste recycling activities only and was not representative of recycling in the borough as a whole. The council has agreements with private contractors which used council land such as car parks for waste glass, paper, cans, textiles, metals and cardboards banks.

Another table from the commission showed that total spending by Yarmouth Council was 113 per head; at Norwich 129; and in Broadland 62. The England District Council average is 95.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 14, 1997

'Lifeline' Postbus to carry passengers

A daily lifeline to 10 villages will hit the road when the county's second postbus goes into sevice.

The special Royal Mail bus service will be unveiled at Stokesby today (Friday 14 March, 1997). The Flegg Postbus will run from Repps to Yarmouth on Monday to Friday, and becomes the second of its kind in Norfolk collecting farepaying passengers as well as mail. The new 11-seat minibus is a joint initiative between Royal Mail Anglia, the county council and the Rural Development Commission.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday March 14, 1997

'Time-Wasting' jibe on lottery cash bid

Great Yarmouth Borough Council has been accused of wasting time with its bid for National Lottery cash for the Wellesley football ground.

Last month the town appeared to have hit the jackpot when 220,000 was granted towards the cost of projects at the Mill Lane recreation ground and the Wellesley. But the council said it was almost certain to have to turn down the 75,000 granted for a new pavilion and changing rooms at the Wellesley.

Owen Lloyd, chairman of the leisure services committee, explained that it did not have the cash to meet its part of the 185,000 cost. He blamed this on strict Government controls on local spending. But this week, a spokesman for the English Sports Council, which made the award, dismissed the council's bid as "a complete waste of time." He added: "I've never heard of an applicant in two years turning an offer down. They've made a speculative bid. You've got to make sure you've got your partnership money in place.

"Why did they apply for it? They've applied for something that they haven't got their own funding for. It is very disappointing. It will just go back into the pot for another scheme. It's a shame that Yarmouth is going to lose the money - I would imagine it's quite galling for the people." But borough engineer Bob Dornan has defended the council's actions. "The council confirmed its budget for the current financial year back in February, 1996, and at that time it was quite confident that it would meet all its obligations. But it had to find substantial savings over the next three years or it would go bust. It had to keep within permitted spending limits, and there were some very difficult decisions to make."

The project at Mill Lane, will go ahead, although another 40,000 must now be found to bring the new changing rooms up to Sports Council standards.

By Matthew Ware "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday February 28, 1997

Jurassic Treat

A Jurassic Seas exhibitions is coming to Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre. It is part of a 2 million-plus investment by holiday group Vardon in its East Anglian attractions after reporting record profits.

The group will create more seasonal jobs by spending 1 million expanding Cherry Tree holiday village at Burgh Castle and another 1 million at the Summerfields and Wild Duck parks near Yarmouth, and Kessingland Beach Holiday Village. A further 250,000 will go on Sea Life centres at Yarmouth, Hunstanton and Southend.

At Burgh Castle the money will help pay for 57 new pitches for private caravans and two new swimming pools. Yarmouth's exhibition will show the ocean's role in the evolution of sea and land species. Mark Oakley of Vardon's attractions division, said: "We will have on display some very bizarre marine species."

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday February 28, 1997

Believe it or not, collection has gone overseas

You can believe it - the collection of oddities which made up Ripley's Believe it or Not! odditorium at Great Yarmouth has disappeared. The seafront attraction's lease on the old Windmill cinemas has run out and the collection has been sent back to America.

The attraction was bought last year by leisure group Queensborough Holdings as part of a 4 million deal which also included Pleasurewood Hills American Theme Park at Lowestoft. Peter Hadden, operations director for Pleasureworld, which is part of Queensborough, said the odditorium had attracted 100,000 visitors a year - but it was time for a change.

"There was a option to renew - but 60 per cent of the people who come to Great Yarmouth return, so you need fresh attractions." he said, "Yarmouth demands constant change."

Windmill owner, Peter Jay, now aims to open a new attraction at the premises and is expected to unveil his plans next week. Orlando-based Ripley's has opened franchises around the world, including one at Blackpool.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday February 28, 1997

Delay for wind power plan

A plan to build one of the world's largest offshore wind farms on a sand bank off Great Yarmouth faces a delay.

Generating giant PowerGen was hoping to have the 30 million-plus wind farm, capable of generating enough electricity to meet the needs of a town of 55,000 people, up and running by the summer of next year. But now it admits the project to site up to 38 190ft turbines on Scroby Sands is unlikely to be backed at this stage by the Department of Trade and Industry.

PowerGen submitted two applications to the department for wind farms of 25 and 13 turbines each in the latest round of bidding by companies wanting to generate electricity without using fossil fuels. The department has yet to announce which schemes have been selected under the fourth Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation Order, which requires electricity supply companies to place contracts for a certain amount of power generated from non-fossil fuel sources such as wind, water and waste.

But it has drawn up a framework giving the numbers of different schemes it will allow and a price at which they should aim to produce their electricity. A PowerGen spokesman said that schemes were judged on economic grounds and it was "unlikely" that the Scroby Sands project would be included in list of selected schemes. "Offshore wind farms are quite a new development so at this stage will be more expensive than onshore projects" she said.

"We do not think it's likely to get the go ahead this time - and if that is the case, we will review it and aim to put it in for the next bidding round in 1998," she added.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday February 28, 1997

The 'bitter' end

The last building on the former site of Great Yarmouth's famous Lacons Brewery stands empty today. Workers at the Whitbread depot on North Quay - once Lacons Brewery Stores - left the building on Friday (21st February 1997) when they moved across the river into new premises.

The move by the brewing giant, which bought Lacons in 1966 and closed the Falcon Brewery two years later, leaves the way clear for the site to be turned into a supermarket. Store chain Aldi last year announced that it wanted to demolish the building to make way for a 12,500 sq. ft. supermarket. This would sell cut-price foods and household goods.

Aldi has already been given planning permission for its new store by Yarmouth Borough Council, but planning officer Peter Warner said there was a condition that the company agreed the extent of its demolition work with the council before going ahead. The idea behind the condition was to preserve some of the features of the depot's facade.

"Architectural features of the building, in particular the Lacons falcon, will be taken down, stored and then incorporated in the front elevation of the stucture," said Mr. Warner.

By Simon Stevens "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday February 28, 1997

Get-tough bid

Police have promised to take more decisive action against travellers camping illegally in Great Yarmouth borough this summer.

Some parish councils criticised police last summer for not acting quickly enough when travellers descended on playing fields, breaking fences and leaving rubbish including human excrement. At a special meeting of the council's itinerant sub-committe on Wednesday, Supt. Chris Burgess promised a far more decisive response but added that the law still required tolerance to be exercised.

He said each incursion by travellers would be taken on its own merits. And Supt. Burgess asked farmers to encourage travellers on set-aside land rather than village playing fields.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday February 28, 1997

Tourist Beaches Warning

A touch of continental style could be needed on Great Yarmouth beach to help the resort keep its share of visitors in the future.

Beach facilities on the town's golden sands are in need of improvement and investment if Yarmouth is to continue attracting up to three million visitors a year, warns a new report.

An in-depth study says that existing beach facilities do not reflect well on the resort - and adds that there is a growing number of vacancies among concessions. "Unless a new initiative is taken, these tourist facilities will continue to decline and many are likely to dissappear," it says.

Yarmouth Borough Council, which commissioned the study along with the East Anglia Tourist Board, wants to improve the management of beach facilities, such as deck chair concessions and refreshment kiosks, and encourage private investment to keep the tourists flocking to the resort. The study looked at beach facilities along a stretch of Marine Parade, and included consulting with existing concessionaires.

It highlights Belgian resorts as an example of how to offer a wide range of high-standard concessions on the beach. In Belgium, there is a wide range of commercial leisure concessions ranging from bouncy castles and boating ponds to wind surfing. Deck chair and beach hut concessions at Belgain resorts are generally laid out attractively with colour-co-ordinated equipment, says the study.

The study was considered last night (23rd January 1997) at a special joint meeting of the council's economic development, planning, leisure services and commercial managment and estates committees. Borough Council officers and committe members refused to comment on the report before the meeting.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday January 24, 1997

Workers bow to pier pressure

The floorboards are up at one of Great Yarmouth's famous piers and comedian Jim Davidson who runs the seafront attraction will be hoping there is nothing nasty lurking underneath.

The Cockney comic has admitted he faces a 3 million bill to restore the Wellington Pier to its former glory and as the floorboards came up this week the extent of the work needed is about to become apparent. The pier has fallen into disrepair in recent years and as workmen ripped up rotten planks of wood this week the first signs were ominous.

"The decking alongside the theatre is rotten and we have removed the most dangerous part," said a workman. "But other areas need attention and it looks like it will cost a lot of money to replace it all." The decking on various parts of the pier is being replaced as it has become a fire hazard with several small blazes breaking out in recent summers, simply from discarded cigarette ends.

Engineers from the borough council, which is still responsible for the steel structure of the pier, will examine parts exposed by the removed floorboards to see if any work is needed before the summer season.

Mr Davidson's company, Effective Productions, leases the pier, theatre and massive glasses structure the Winter Gardens, from the council. It has been estimated that nearly 2 million needs to be spent on structural repairs alone on the Golden Mile attraction.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday January 24, 1997

Bridge may come down

A Great Yarmouth landmark may sson disappear, leaving travellers a long trek to the town's railway station.

The footbridge over the River Bure which leads from the town centre to Vauxhall railway station and the Asda store could soon be closed or even pulled down. Railway property bosses say the bridge, almost 150 years old, is in poor condition and may be unsafe. The cost of repairing and painting the bridge alone is put at 84,000.

If it is closed or demolished, non-drivers face a detour to reach the station and arriving tourists would have their direct route to the town cut off. Council officials estimate 90 per cent of rail travellers to the town complete their journey using the bridge. And yesterday members of the borough council planning commitee agreed the situation needed a closer look.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday January 10, 1997

Steam train tourist boost wins grant

Steam charter services could soon be bringing tourists into Great Yarmouth with the added bonus of a heritage steam centre springing up on derelict land in the town.

Tourism chiefs described the plan as "very exciting" and work on the centre could begin before the end of the year. The Yarmouth project would be on derelict land between the Vauxhall Station and Asda Store. Yarmouth councillors yesterday agreed to give 5000 towards a 20,000 feasibility study by the Heritage Railway Development Company.

The scheme would start with the introduction of steam charter trains. The centre would include a turntable for engines, workshop, visitor facilities and possibly a new siding for carriages. The company said that it could run up to 30 charter trains a year bringing in 500 passengers on each visit.

By Peter Woods "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday January 10, 1997

Work on bus priority scheme

Work on a 150,000 bus priority project in Yarmouth town centre will start on Monday 13th January.

The scheme is expected to help cut down congestion, particularly in the busy summer months. It involves building new right-turn lane to allow buses and cyclists heading north from Market Place to turn right into Fullers Hill. This will allow buses, especially those heading towards Market Gates bus station, to use a better route from North Quay, avoiding queues that often build up on the North Quay approachers to Fuller Hill roundabout.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday January 10, 1997

Salute to the hero

A huge millennium celebration in Great Yarmouth is being planned to mark Lord Nelson's return to British soil two centuries ago.

Several thousand people from across the county will join together to re-create the events of 1800, when Lord Nelson landed at Gorleston after his victory in the Battle of the Nile. Details of the pageant come only a week after plans were revealed for a National Lottery bid to help open a museum in honour of England's greatest hero and to officially name Norfolk "Nelson's County" after its famous son.

The organiser Bruno Peek, has been working on the pageant, entitled Nelson Returns to Great Yarmouth, since 1993 but preparations are now gaining pace. Mr Peek has already pulled together a team of script writers and a researcher to plan the pageant - to be held on November 6 and 7 in the year 2000. This will be 200 years after Nelson was granted freedom of Borough of Great Yarmouth. He estimates that this event will cost around 300,000 and hopes this can be raised through commercial sponsership and grants.

Anyone interested in getting involved in the pageant should write to Bruno Peek at 21 Coverdale, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 8TD.

By Emma Birchley "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday January 3, 1997

Hole in the sea wall fear for homes

Worried residents living yards from a gaping hole beneath the sea wall at Caister spoke this week of their fears.

As contractors battled with biting winds and high tides to stabilise the wall, people living close by feared that their homes could eventually be washed away. Strong tides broke through the steel piling under the section of wall at the end of Second Avenue on Christmas Eve, and quickly washed away the soft land behind.

Bob Dornan, borough engineer, insisted that no properties or people were at risk in the short term, and contractors moved in early on Tuesday despite ferocious winds and waves battering the wall. They were trying to sink new pilings behind the wall to keep the sea out and stop the erosion, before filing in the hole behind. The hole appeared just days after the Borough Council announced a 1 million scheme to bolster sea defences in the area.

By Matthew Ware "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday January 3, 1997

Be Prepared!

Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboatmen are helping to launch a national safety message to weekend sailors to reduce the number of rescues involving pleasure craft.

Crewman from Norfolk's most busiest Royal National Lifeboat Institution station will be found on the RNLI stand at the International Boat Show in London this weekend to urge leisure yachtsmen, fishermen, surfers and jetskiers: "Prepare before you launch."

Latest figures show that RNLI and private lifeboats around Norfolk and Suffolk saved more than 40 lives in nearly 200 launches last year. They mirrored a national trend of a drop on a hectic 1995, when a hot summer brought record numbers of sea users had "seemed quiet" after the previous busy year, admitted secretary Neal Duffield. But crewman will remember 1996 as the year in which they were honoured for saving lives during storm-force winds.

Up to December 8, the all-weather Samarbeta lifeboat was launched seven times, while the inshore boat took to the water 23 times. Between them, the crews saved 8 lives. Nationally, RNLI boats launched 5307 times up to December the 8, compared with 6108 in 1995.

By Simon Stevens "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday January 3, 1997

James Paget set to take over services

Health chiefs at the James Paget Hospital NHS Trust are negotiating to take over community health services in Great Yarmouth area currently provided by the Anglian Harbours Trust.

Norfolk health announced on Monday that the James Paget had been invited to negotiate to provide the services following its decision, along with Suffolk Health, to end its health contracts with Anglian Harbours from next year.

The James Paget was selected by a special project group, made up of members including doctors from Yarmouth and borough councillors, from four trusts which were short-listed to provide the transferred services. Trust chief executive Mike Pollard said he was "pleased and proud" that the James Paget had been selected by the group. "These agencies have placed faith and trust in the James Paget Hospital NHS Trust and we will not let them down," he said.

Dr. Chris Price, director of primary health care for Norfolk Health, said that the group's decision to negotiate with the James Paget had been unanimous. "It was felt by everyone involved that the JPH was the trust best able to work with us to develop the range and quality of services to meet people's needs," he said.

By Simon Stevens "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday November 22nd, 1996

On the crest of a wave

Sales of Jim Davidson's lifeboat record have hit new heights. The Lifeboat Song, performed by the comedian with the lifeboat crews from the Caister and Cromer, was released as a single after its performance at the Royal Variety Show in London.

Now WH Smith in Great Yarmouth has found local support is turning it into a best-seller. The store sold 500 records in the first week, and has started selling signed copies to raise even more money for lifeboat funds.

Store manager Martin Blackwell said: "I have never, ever sold as many copies of a single as this!"

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday November 22nd, 1996

11 Million boost for bus users and cyclists

Cyclists and bus-users could benefit from an 11 million boost to the roads in Great Yarmouth over the next five years.

A number of improvements are planned to make travel in the town easier for cyclists and to encourage people to use public transport. Some, like improved bus services from the town centre to the train station and parts of the Gorleston railway route cycle path, are already in use.

More than half the commuters coming to Yarmouth use cars, but cycling, walking, and bus journeys account for 33.5 per cent of trips and the county council wants to build on that figure. The proportion of cycle use, at six per cent is double the national average. The National Cycle Route, a Millennium project, passes through Yarmouth using some of the existing and proposed cycle routes.

Now new bus services and changes in road access could make trips quicker and easier for people not in cars. Some of the proposals even put cars at a disadvantage, actively discouraging their use.

Norfolk County Council is bidding for the cash from central government over five years - starting with 1.3 Million this year - and Mr Elliott ( planning and transportation engineer) warned it was usual for authorities to get less than they bid for.

A Public meeting will be held at the town hall on December 4th at 7:30pm

By Nick Manthorpe "Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday November 22nd, 1996

Jobless total rises

Great Yarmouth is one of only two places in the country failing to celebrate a cut in unemployment, it has been revealed.

While 911 more people found work in Norfolk last month, the country's blackspot of Yarmouth joined Clwyd as earning the unwanted distinction of being the only two districts in the country to register a rise in the number of jobless.

The town's Labour prospective parliamentary candidate Tony Wright said "The government is failing to solve the problem of unemployment for this town. They tinker around with the Job Seekers Allowance and try to misrepresent the growth in part-time jobs as good news, but in Yarmouth and the surrounding rural areas things just keep getting worse. This is a disgrace."

Last month's figures show unemployment in Yarmouth up by 261 to 4048, with youth unemployment also showing a rise of 91 from 1045 to 1136.

Nationally, unemployment fell by 40,800 to just over two million.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury" Friday November 22nd, 1996

Cash call to tidy Seafront

A scheme to demolish derelict and vandalised buildings on the seafront at the South Denes was this week given the backing of borough planners.

The 60,000 scheme will see the demolition of two disued toilet blocks, the former Harbour Lights Club and a premises known as the old Air Shed, which lie just off South Beach Parade. And it will include the erection of new lengths of fencing alongside both South Beach Parade and part of esplanade to help stop sand drifting in stong winds.

But the scheme will only go ahead if a bid for 75 percent funding from English Partnerships, proves successful. All the buildings have been empty for a year or more, have fallen into disrepair and are a target for vandels.

The Harbour Lights Club, owned by the council, has been empty and available to let for a year but little interest has been shown. A report committee described the premises as of "poor quality construction".

The Air Shed, which was originally in use when part of the South Denes was used as an airstrip for airships and aircraft during the war, has been fenced off. A photographic record will be made of the building before it is demolished and placed with the Norfolk Landscape Archaeology unit at Gressenhall.

By Simon Stevens "Great Yarmouth Mercury"

Ward Closure may hit ops

Routine operations at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston could be delayed after the closure of a ward.

Ward three is due to close before Christmas because the hospital has treated too many patients and used up its money on contracts agreed with health authorities. But it was stressed that the closure of the 28-bed surgical ward, used mainly for patients undergoing abdominal surgery, would not affect emergancy operations. And the 24 full-time and part-time staff on the ward will be moved to other wards.

James Paget Hospital Chief executive Mike Pollard said that the 540-bed hospital was currently treating about five percent more patients than it should be. But Mr Pollard is confident that this temporary closure will not mean lower standards.

"The James Paget has some of the lowest waiting times for surgery in the country and even with this ward out of action, we will still be able to meet all our Patients' Charter standards"
The hospital also said the closure was also due to new technology and changes in clinical practice which had reduced the length of stay.

Simon Stevens "Great Yarmouth Mercury"

The Coast is Clear

The Town's reputation as one of Britain's favourite resorts had taken a knock after regular surveys revealed the famous golden sands were badly affected by sewage. But now new figures show pollution levels have plummeted and that our beaches are safe!

The good news came from the Environmental Agency - which also revealed 35 dirty beaches - including Blackpool, met the EU standards for the first time in years. The news follows completion of the 50 million sewage treatment works in the town.

Dave Foster, an Environmental Agency Scientist confirmed the town's Beaches would "probably pass this year". His figures show up to the end of September, all six beaches in the Great Yarmouth area passed strigent water quality tests.

An official Government statement using the agencies figures will be released in November.

By John McNamara "Advertiser"

Major Offshore Boost

The Region's oil and gas industry welcomed news this week that the Government has given the go-ahead to a 100 million North Sea development.

Shell, Esso and Total Oil Marine were told they can develop the satelite Mallard field in the central North Sea. It is expected 80% of the support and supply work will involve UK companies - which should have a knock-on effect for related firms in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

The new field will come online in October 1997 - and daily production should reach 16,000 barrels of oil and 11 million cubic feet of gas.


Youth Unemployment is Down

Youth unemployment in Great Yarmouth is at its lowest level for four years, despite a decrease in the number of advertised job vacancies, according to figures just released by Norfolk Careers Service.

The number of youths registered unemployed in the Great Yarmouth district for the Summer quarter ending September were 176 - 44 down on last year's figures of 222.

However, vacancies for young people notified to the Great Yarmouth Careers Centre were the lowest they have been for over four years with just 20 places advertised.

The number of trainees on Target courses have declined with this year's figures standing at just 415 - a decrease of 122 since 1995.


Work Starts on Scanner

The 500,000 heart of a new scanner for the James Paget Hospital will be lifted into place on saturday (26th October).

A special crane is being assembled for the delicate lifting operation to install the magnet for the new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scanner into its purpose-built suite.

The eight-ton American-made magnet, the most expensive part of the new scanner, will be lifted over hospital buildings, and then lowered into a courtyard next to the suite before being inched into place. A number of departments will be moved during the lift for safety reasons.

Its arrival marks the start of the installation of both the MRI and the new CT Scanner, just 18 months after the hospital launched its 500,000 Scanners Appeal, supported by the Great Yarmouth Mercury.

Since then, the townsfolk of Great Yarmouth have managed to raise nearly 400,000 for the appeal. Project Manager Tony Dunn said the response had been "wonderful". "Given the number of charity appeals that are around and the current economic climate, to raise that sort of sum in a relatively short period of time is a great acheivement," he said.

Both scanners, which will cost a total of 1.3 million, will be up and running by the middle of January in the new suite, designed by the hospital's in-house project team.

The MRI scanner can be targeted very accurately and 'sees through' bones to clearly define soft tissues. This type of imaging is helpful in diagnosing brain and nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, distinguishing tumours from surrounding tissue and the causes of back and joint pain.

By Simon Stevens "Great Yarmouth Mercury"

Turn-round on port land plan

A potential development north of the picturesque Breydon Water has been halted by a turn-around in council policy.

After objections, and faced with likely rejection at a public enquiry, the borough has backed down over plans to give 75 acres inside the Bure Loop to cope with port growth.

The pocket of land immediately to the West of the town, formed by a bend in the river and the Acle Straight, includes 125 acres which were set aside for "transport-related uses associated with an outer harbour or port expansion" - as area where trailors and containers could be kept away from the town centre.

A link road between the A47 to Norwich and the A149 Caister road is due for construction in the year 2000, cutting across the middle of the loop. Pressure groups have objected to a new development - particularly outside this proposed link road - so near Breydon Water, an important stop-over for migrating birds.

But Breydon Water is now recognised as a wetland area and is a Specially Protected Area under EU law, and the Government will not allow an industrial site there without good reason.

Now the borough only wants 50 acres inside the link road for port expansion. The Broads Authority, a major objector to the council's Bure Loop proposals in the past, welcomed the policy changes.

By Nick Manthorpe "Great Yarmouth Mercury"

Hi-tech takeover

Expansion and more jobs are in prospect at Beck Electronics, of Great Yarmouth, which has been taken over by a hi-tech company based in the Lake District.

Beck, which employs 120 people on the South Denes Industrial Estate, used to part of Erie Electronics which, with Birds Eye, was one of Great Yarmouth's two biggest employers in the Fifties and Sixties.

"I think this is the best thing that could have happened as a next step for Beck Electronics," said managing director Bob Brook, who led a management buy-out 10 years ago. He still has a 10 percent stake in the company.

The other 90 percent has been bought out by the Oxley Group, as electronic systems and components manufacturer based in Ulverston, Cumbria.

"Great Yarmouth Mercury"

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