COLUMN: Richard Bacon MP - ‘Co-op deserves praise for public-spirited decision to support free parking in Harleston’

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk
Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk

Let me begin this month’s column in praise of the East of England Co-Op and its public-spirited decision to support free car parking in the town.

The provision of free parking unquestionably helps to support the many small independent traders in Harleston, for which the town is well known.

The East of England Co-op deserves high praise for its gesture, which will ensure that the town’s car parks will remain free for shoppers and visitors alike

However, it is also the case that the parking isn’t actually free in the widest sense; the car parks still have to be maintained and kept clean and tidy.

Someone has to meet those costs, whether that is the parish council, the district council, local traders or individual drivers and shoppers.

The debate about how those costs are met was becoming ever more acrimonious, with the potential to do lasting damage to community relations.

This is why it is so important that the East of England Co-Op has stepped in and taken the heat out of the issue, exchanging it for some much-needed light.

The East of England Co-op deserves high praise for its gesture, which will ensure that the town’s car parks will remain free for shoppers and visitors alike.

DISS PARK RADIO

Like me, many of you will have enjoyed listening to Diss Park Radio while it was on the air.

It truly was the ‘voice’ of the town in a way that, I dare say, even the venerable BBC Radio Norfolk would struggle to match.

The media regulator Ofcom awarded the station a five-year FM community radio licence in 2015, after a series of short-term broadcast licences.

Now, after two years of fundraising and preparations, the newly-renamed Park Radio is just weeks away from its first transmissions.

I am delighted that Diss’ local voice will soon be heard once again and will be reaching out to places such as Harleston and Eye.

The Waveney valley’s own radio station could potentially be broadcasting to 80,000 listeners very soon.

Park Radio aims to be on the air 24 hours a day and with a broadcast service that is relentlessly and proudly local in its focus.

I’ve been invited to go on air for an interview, which hopefully won’t damage the listening figures too much.

My heartiest congratulations to Chris Moyse and his team for their amazing achievement.

KEEP WARM, KEEP WELL

Getting the flu can be bad enough, but, for older people and those with long-term conditions in particular, it can cause serious health problems.

The chief medical officer recently warned that flu and its associated complications on average cause 8,000 deaths a year in England, around 6,000 of which are people with existing heart and lung conditions.

More than 136,000 people missed out on protection last year across Norfolk, including 62,793 older people.

For over-65s with long-term conditions making them more vulnerable to the effects of flu, just 47 percent were vaccinated.

A further 52,022 working age people with long-term conditions and 625 children aged between two and four classed as being at greater risk also didn’t get the vaccine.

Getting the flu jab is free and easy, and offers the best chance of avoiding the flu that we have.

I’d therefore urge all those eligible – including all care home staff for the first time – to speak to your GP or local pharmacist and get your vaccination booked in before the cold weather sets in.