Wavmouth must not be a vision too far
PUBLISHED: 10:38 14 December 2007 | UPDATED: 19:20 05 July 2010
COUNCILS are famously full of hot air, guff and giant egos.
What goes on behind those heavy council doors in the name of "debate" and local politics is a comedy scriptwriter's dream.
COUNCILS are famously full of hot air, guff and giant egos.
What goes on behind those heavy council doors in the name of “debate” and local politics is a comedy scriptwriter's dream.
As a junior reporter in the days when even town council meetings were covered meticulously I stored up a lifetime of corking dining out anecdotes.
Most councillors give up their time because they truly care about their communities, want to bring about change and improvement and believe passionately in local people. Some are totally out of their depth. Others are in it for themselves, the profile, perks and power kicks.
Joined up thinking isn't always the greatest accomplishment of local government - much like its parent in Westminster. Insular small town attitudes too often dominate the chamber. It's been done like this for years and it'll be done like this for years to come.
Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft have been ribbed from outside for years about an insular, pull up the drawbridge and keep “outsiders” out attitude. Particularly with each other.
As neighbours, they view each other as the enemy, competitors, running each other down and encouraging rivalry… because they always have. Even though so many of the issues that have troubled them over the years, causes worth fighting, are shared.
Now Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft have a chance to put the past behind them in the name of their people's future prosperity. To adopt the best joined up thinking and merge to a unitary authority for a double-strength fight for their people's fortunes.
To make decisions locally that affect local people.
They should have done it years ago. Common issues, worries, industries, seasonal work, problems and attitudes inextricably bind them, as well as geography and their demographic make-up.
The rivalry? Started in the herring wars of the Middle Ages and ran on to taking different sides in the English Civil War in the 17th century. If Ian Paisley and Martin McGuiness can share power in Northern Ireland and a German can be considered for England football manager, Yarmouth and Lowestoft can bear to pull together.
But, sometimes laughably, mutual contempt simmers on both sides.
On the Lowestoft Online forum, a contributor “Sylvia” objects to a merger because Lowestoft is “posh” compared to Great Yarmouth. Another squirms at the thought of a Kiss Me Quick hat in Lowestoft. Serious issues these.
Both towns' economies are changing. Great Yarmouth is offering Lowestoft a gateway to Europe with its outer harbour scheme. Individually, both are areas of low aspiration, low achievement and both are desperate for investment.
Both have weight. Combined a formidable force would fight to bring industry, investment and belief to the area.
This is not about politics - it's about people and their future.
It's time for sense. Yartoft or Lowesmouth- whatever.
We share a hospital across county boundaries and that's worked. We share a coastline and much more besides.
Let's show the rest of the country we're not insular small-towners but communities of vision.
AS minister for children, Ed Balls should know that “I want doesn't get”.
“Over the next 10 years, I want to make Britain the best place in the world for children to grow up - that is my ambition.”
He probably wants to time travel, live until he's 1,000 and turn stones into gold too. He's got as much chance of seeing it happen.
Yet another Government review is supposed to change Britain from a nation where Asbos are paraded like war medals by hoodies who, despite 11 years in school, can't read or write; where kids think they're lucky to get through a week without being stabbed, happy slapped, mugged for their mobile phone or trainers or cyber-bullied, preyed upon by a paedophile; where decent kids struggle to learn in rowdy classes of disruptive children and ineffectual and powerless teachers; where they're wasted on booze before they even reach secondary school, not to mention drugs.
A nation where kids are roaming lawless streets terrorising old ladies in their own homes. The others are so molly-coddled and protected they don't cross a road by themselves until they are 15.Where children gorge on saturated fat, spend hours immobile in front of a games console or TV and are lucky to get an hour's PE a week.
It goes on and on.
But Mr Balls, minister for children, wants to transform this to the best place in the world. Oh yes he does. Well it is pantomime season.
He'd make a fabulous Fairy Godmother with his magic wand. And we'd probably take him more seriously.
THERE'S one thing more naff and showy-offy than personalised number plates. Family portrait Christmas cards.
What makes people take the step to organise a photo of themselves to send out at Christmas? Other than humungous egos.
Prince Charles and Camilla have sent one. He always does. This year's bears no relation to Christmas. It's just a photo. Tony Blair always favoured family portraits too. Wouldn't he just?
At least Gordon Brown has plumped for a children's charity card this year -and we'll think better of him for it.
A TOP aide to the Queen has spoken of Her Majesty's fabulous sense of humour.
Well, she'd have to. She's just sat through yet another Royal Variety Show.
MORE than a third of office workers spent almost an hour on Monday buying Christmas presents on the Internet.
Then, if they're anything like me, waste about four hours every day checking if the gifts have been dispatched in a panic they won't arrive before Christmas. Internet shopping might save a journey but it does nothing to save time or stress.
EVERY primary school pupil will have to learn a foreign language under a “root and branch” overhaul of primary school lessons.
Isn't it more pressing to get them speaking their first language properly - and reading and writing it.
IS it me or has boxing suddenly leapt out of the cupboard it's been hiding in for a decade or so and boffed us all on the nose?
The last time I noticed boxing it was most un-pc, condemned as brutal, ugly and thuggish by the chattering classes who called for it to be banned.
Suddenly it's hip again. Like real fur - and just as ghastly.
Bashing 10 bells out of each other for loadsa money is hot again. So hot that the hottest hotties of all, Angelina and Brad, were ringside in Las Vegas on Saturday for Ricky Hatton's fight and insisted on meeting him backstage afterwards.
Then red-hot favourite for BBC Sports personality of Year Lewis Hamilton was trounced on the final lap by Calzaghe. Who? Said those of us who know nothing about boxing.
Boxing might be the new black of sport but it's still ugly, nasty and unnecessary.
MORE than a quarter of Britons don't know where Jesus was born. But I bet they can name every winner of Big Brother.
THE story of the Darwins will make the most brilliant film in the next few years.
Hollywood will already be rustling with excitement about the escape plot so many have dreamed about but only John Darwin went through with.
Their story is even more gripping because the central characters are so unremarkable. So ordinary. So grey. They're not flamboyant, extrovert or colourful in the least.
But this fade-into-the-background characters - a doctor's receptionist, if you please - allegedly almost pulled off one of the big frauds of our time. Because they were ordinary and attracted no attention.
Hollywood producers will have a job on their hands - finding actors plain enough to carry off the roles.
THE warring Tarrants are at it again. This time over where the children will spend Christmas.
As with every divorced couple, one is always the loser when it comes to Christmas. That's the deal. Two places at once can't be done, unless the parents are grown up enough to spend Christmas together and can enjoy it.
The Tarrant's children are almost grown up and can choose. Small children have the choice made for them.
The secret I've seen from friends who have shared their children at Christmas is to make firm arrangements, let the children know where they are going to be when and, most importantly, never, ever criticise, argue with, or put down their other parent.
Civilised, measured and courteous behaviour between divorced couples in front of the children produces civilized, balanced and secure children who know where they are and that they're loved.
However hard it might be to share the children this Christmas, make it easy for them. It's worth it in the end.