Letters to the Editor
Dangerous play area, Great Man's Way, Grampian Foods and GM crops
On Sunday I took my 7-year-old granddaughter Jessie to Whittington playing field. After she had spent some time on the swings we went over to the monkey bars. She was halfway across when I noticed at the end of the bars some dimwit had deliberately smashed a glass bottle on one of the posts. There were shards of glass in the grass under the bars so I took Jessie off the bars and cleared up all the glass I could find and disposed of it safely. It is disturbing to think that another child might not have been so lucky. Would, whoever is in charge of looking after the field, please check regularly to ensure the area is safe for the little ones.
Jim and I would like to thank everyone who supported our stall on Sunday the 18th May for the playing field.
We raised £165 00! We were more than pleased and hope this goes to help with what they want to do with the field
We will be up on the playing field again on Sunday 13th July and hope to have your support again.
Daphne and Jim Clements
Dear Mr Thompson,
What on earth is happening at the bottom of Great Man's Way in Stoke Ferry? By all appearances someone has bought a plot of land and is rendering the whole area a No Go Zone to locals. Over the past year the public rights of way down there have been obstructed or villagers blatantly dissuaded by barricades of rubble, signs warning to shoot dogs, metal fences, No Entry signs, uprooted trees, guard dog notices all on what is after all a public pathway in a pretty part of the village. In addition to this the drainage ditches have all been filled in on an area where some homes are on potential flood areas!
Can the council assure us that public walkways are going to remain as such? Can they shed any light on what they are doing to stand up to such an arrogant and threatening presence that is so blatantly intimidating people? As a local born and bred I feel saddened that someone moving into our village should want to cast such anti - social and threatening deterrents against locals walking through this part of their village.
A concerned and angry resident
Has the world gone mad? On the day that David Blunkett came out with his "being much harder on criminals" speech, the Law Commission re-emphasised that criminals have rights. My view, already expressed in this column, is that, once convicted of a crime, a person forfeits their rights.
The Law Commission go on to say that politicians should not interfere in the judiciary. I would normally agree with that but if they don't what absurd cases will come to court in future? Cases like that of Brendan Fearon suing Tony Martin for £15,000 after having been shot burgling his farmhouse - that's what! And we, the taxpayers, will pay for these cases through legal aid being granted, and the lawyers will have discovered a nice little earner.
Recently I had the pleasure of attending the second Village Workshop and, for the second time, there was an air of GF (Grampian Foods) bashing!
Over the past few years there appears to be a wave of anti Grampian Foods in the village. However, I think that the majority of those who live in the village are in fact pro GF. Grampian Foods and the previous owners of the mill have brought a lot of prosperity to Stoke Ferry. Buckenham Drive would not exist if it wasn't for the mill. Ferry Stores would have closed years ago and I have no doubt there wouldn't be a dedicated village post office. Many people who have lived in the village for the past 30 or 40 years have made there living from the mill, they were able to raise their families, buy their houses, go on holidays and all because of Stoke Ferry mill.
Grampian Foods have spent a considerable amount of money investing in Stoke Ferry; a lot of this money goes to local businesses. Their input into the local economy is almost immeasurable. So why is there a small minority of villagers who believe that the mill should close? What is their gain in seeing the heart of the village torn out?
At the village workshop those who raised the biggest objection to the mill seem to be relatively new to the village (by this I mean less than 15 years resident). They object to the "ugly" chimneys of the mill, the dust and the lorries. When they were looking to move to the village did they not see that there was a factory right in the middle of it? Did the estate agent not point out to them that Stoke Ferry was a "working" village?
The Stoke Ferry Environmental Group, which recently started, is also looking to clean up the village and put pressure on landowners to tidy up wasteland. The group showed off various pictures of derelict properties within the village and the graffiti problem which exists. Yet how many properties in this village are "derelict"? Not that many compared to a lot of villages in West Norfolk. And the graffiti has not been a major problem in the village. The last bit of serious graffiti was 15 years ago. Yes the garages next to the chip shop have had a little bit of graffiti on them but overall this is not a problem. And what is the Environmental Group's definition of wasteland and derelict? The buildings opposite the mill are with the exception of one all used by local businesses. The land behind these buildings is also used.
The Environmental group and their supporters have made it quite clear that they would like to see the mill closed and the "wasteland" tidied up. If GF decide to leave the village what will become of the land they currently use? I very much doubt if the land behind the hall will revert back to an orchard. The chances are that the land and the so-called wasteland will be redeveloped for housing. No one can fail to notice what has happened to Downham Market over the past few years. Developers are able to cram an extraordinary amount of houses into a very small area. And once the flood gates have opened in Stoke Ferry the developers will exploit it to its fullest. The village will end up becoming a small town. Is that really what everyone wants?
We should all be very proud of our village. Although we have a modern factory in the centre of the village it hasn't really changed that much over the years. Stoke Ferry has moved into the 21st century but not lost any of its character. We are still a traditional Norfolk village, dealing in traditional industries. There is a lot of gainful employment within the village and the businesses that are here have put our small village on the map. If those people who have moved here in the past 10 years or so don't like what Stoke Ferry is, perhaps they should look at moving to a quieter village, like Shouldham. Where there is little or no work in the village, where the shops have closed, where the post office is in someone's front room and is closed more than its open, where house prices are forcing young couples to move out of the village, and where the village is almost sterile.
The poem that was in the June edition of the pump by M.A. White summed it up very nicely, and I suggest that all those who object to the way our village looks should read it.
This village of ours is not pretty,
We don't have a duck pond or green.
But there's something about it that makes you,
Glad to come back from wherever you've been...
...That's out village, Stoke Ferry - "warts and all"
From a resident of the village who has lived here less than 20 years and who viewed his house in day light!
Name and address supplied
I realize that I am in a privileged position in that I am in a position to read the articles for the Pump before publication and normally I would not abuse this privilege. However having read the letter regarding the great GM debate I felt moved to break my own rules.
The letter from Cyril Marsters, although well written, does contain many errors and much misinformation. Having been involved for many years in the subject of GM crops I would like to make the following points.
How will GM affect Farmers?
He quotes from the Soil Association report from studies in Canada. I would first point out that the Soil Association is TOTALLY against the introduction of GM crops and their development. Their report, which I also have read, could be said to prove an already determined argument
The situation in Canada is very different from that of the UK and Europe! The introduction of herbicide resistant crops in Canada allowed many farmers to grow crops on an annual basis rather than having to leave the land bare every other year to conserve moisture. It has been calculated that being able adopt new techniques due to GM technology enabled a further 1 million acres to be brought into production. It is also worthwhile noting that the crop in North America is in fact Canola (spring rape) not the winter oil seed rape grown here.
The question of crop yields is a varietal problem not a cultural one and is inevitable when one considers the length of time taken to bring a GM product to the market. This doubtless will change with newer hybrid varieties. With regard to the problem of Canola volunteers these are being controlled with other traditional herbicides and are only a problem where the same crop is grown year after year. This is NOT the case in the UK where Oil seed rape is part of a rotation.
Mr. Marsters is correct in saying that we do not know the long-term health risks, but this is true for all pharmaceuticals and every chemical we use on an every day basis. However GM technology has been researched in detail, product-by-product, far longer than any new pharmaceutical or traditional crop protection agent. The products due to be introduced have all passed every requirement imposed by every relevant authority. To quote both Dr Michel Antoniou and the notorious Dr Mae-Wan Ho both vociferous campaigners against GM technology is biased to say the least. We all can produce quotations to match our views
GM Impact on the Wildlife and Environment
The work over the past 10 or so years has been designed to show that the products have no deleterious effect on the environment. It appears that they have little effect. What Mr. Marsters appears to fail to realize is that the new technology can, with imagination, be used to enhance the environment. I was personally involved in trials at Brooms Barn experimental station, the leading research station for Sugar Beet. The purpose of the trials being to use GM technology to provide food source for songbirds and insects without resulting in yield loss. Unfortunately good news is never news.
When farming practice is changed the environment can be enhanced. It may take imagination but that is what industrialist said in the Luddite era. Who was right, Thomas Coke or the traditionalist?
Here I have some sympathy for Mr. Marsters view, but would quote a precedent from North America where Aventis paid in excess of 100 million euro as compensation to farmers who purchased contaminated seed.
The UK agricultural scene is very different in that we operate on a rotational system and do not have an annual moisture deficit. Thus farmers will continue to be able to grow their crops in a traditional basis. The decision to grow GM or not, will be made on economic and varietal terms; until the varieties improve I do not believe there will be will a great uptake of GM crops.
Possible GM introductions in the UK are herbicide resistant maize, herbicide resistant sugar beet and herbicide resistant oilseed rape. At the present time I do not believe there are plans for insect resistant crops.
Maize (Not Sweet corn)
A fairly minor fodder crop grown on a rotational basis, volunteers are never a problem, as the crop is never allowed to mature. The biggest risk here is contamination of organic sweet corn but this can be overcome by enforcing exclusion zones between crops.
A specialized crop sold in total to British Sugar, Since British Sugar have NO plans to purchase GM crops the registration of GM varieties is of academic interest only at the present time.
Oil seed rape
The varieties tested are not of the best and yields are not expected to be as high as traditional varieties. There is a real risk of volunteers but these are only resistant to a specific herbicide and will be controlled as a matter of course in the next crop in the rotation.
One must remember that crops are grown to sell or to feed livestock. New varieties will only be grown if the crop can be sold or abattoirs and end users accept livestock fed on the crop. I am personally doubtful if public pressure will allow either to occur!
My one hope is that in future we will see a balanced debate and not the use of biased quotes or selective reports to persuade the public by scare tactics. On a more philosophical note, does Mr. Marsters wish to ban all GM technology? If so, can he explain to the nations diabetics, whose insulin is produced by biotechnology, where their mendicants will come from in the future? And to our many vegetarians who eat vegetarian cheese, also a product of biotechnology, what they will have instead of a ploughman's?
Our civilization has always thrived on innovation, please don't deprive our future generations of the pharmaceuticals being developed courtesy of biotechnology or the under developed world of the possibility of growing food where today there is desert.