Community section writer
James is a history student at UEA who makes use of his large amounts of free time by getting involved with local politics, watching football, or going to the pub. Lover of Norwich, music, food and travelling, there’s surely no topic he won’t be able to cover.
(30.07.17) – The Pedestrianisation of Norwich City Centre
I never thought I’d start off a serious article by writing about talking during sex, but here we are. It’s a slightly awkward subject, and one that the world of comedy is not afraid to touch upon. Specifically, I’m referring to everyone’s favourite fictional radio presenter, Alan Partridge, who is no stranger to the delicate topic of conversations mid-intercourse. I’m Alan Partridge brought to British comedy a very memorable line, during a less than steamy sex scene, in which Alan asks his partner just what she thinks of the pedestrianisation of Norwich City Centre.
Aside from being a line used as a sure-fire way to detect a fellow Partridge fan, those outside of Norwich may not realise that we recently celebrated fifty years since the first high street in the city became pedestrianised, and that the debate around the motorist vs pedestrian issue continues to rage on. It is very much to this day – as Alan himself would say – a ‘hot topic’.
(16.07.17) – Before the Forum: Remembering a Norwich Tragedy
The Forum is often described as a key landmark of Norwich, a grand glass structure which stands alongside City Hall and St. Peter Mancroft Church, overlooking the market. Intended as a building fit to mark the turn of the century, The Forum was opened in November 2001 and has since become one of the main meeting places in the city centre, truly a forum for the people of Norwich.
Many of those meeting there – enjoying pizza, coffee and the various exhibitions hosted within – may not realise the scale of destruction and loss of history that took place twenty-three years ago, pre-dating the grand building we know today.
(18.06.17) – UKIP: The Original Radicals
Following the recent elections both locally in Norfolk and nationally at Westminster, many of us will have been enjoying the demise of the entity we all know as ‘UKIP’ – the United Kingdom Independence Party. With many realising that their main objective of leaving the European Union has been all but completed, the electorate have decisively rejected their flimsy, populist, far right manifesto and consigned the party to the history books.
It’s hard to believe that they were ever a considerable electoral force, this year picking up just under 2% of the vote, losing all of their incumbent 145 local councillors and their only seat in parliament less than twelve months after their referendum victory. UKIP campaigners were keen to talk about voters returning to them, but this clearly didn’t materialise.
Content warning: article mentions suicide, and features a carnival float depicting suicide
To mark the arrival of BBC’s Question Time in Norwich on Thursday, a rather controversial float turned up in our city. Created for a festival in Dusseldorf, an impressively sized and eerily lifelike representation of the Prime Minister with a ‘Brexit’ gun in her mouth, was rolled around nearby streets to attract attention and to supposedly draw support for the pro-EU cause.
While I can appreciate the enthusiasm behind the protest, I can’t help but think it’s the wrong way to go about building a campaign focused on ensuring a future close to Europe.
(23.04.17) – Graffiti is a Crime
On the face of it, rural train stations don’t feel as though they should be particularly thought provoking places, and they’re probably the last place you’d look to find an inspiring piece of community art. ‘Community art’ in this sense may be bending the meaning of the term a little too far for some – what I saw outside Wymondham train station the other evening were simply thinly scrawled words spray painted onto an old grey wall.
The words were ‘graffiti is a crime’.
An amusing phrase to go alongside the obvious activity – but as I walked past debating whether or not I could be bothered to take a picture or bring it up in pub conversation later, it got me thinking more and more about how graffiti is viewed in society. I don’t condone defacing clearly private property; I believe graffiti it is an art form that needs to be given space.
(10.04.17) – Potholes, Pavements, and Polling Day
Having been a candidate in a local election last year, I spent a lot of time telling people ‘vote for me’, and as a candidate again this year, I’m doing much the same thing. The more I think about it however, it’s the first third of that phrase that is truly the most important part, and although local politics may not be all that exciting – it is something that affects everyone – above all we need to convince people simply to ‘vote’.
(12.03.17) – Tackling the Abuse: Why I Support Striking Referees
Content warnings: article mentions physical and verbal abuse
Last weekend, over 2000 referees reportedly went on strike to send a message to the national Football Association about wanting greater protection from abuse on the pitch. A walkout by referees of this scale has never been achieved before, and is a testament to the strength of feeling over this issue. As a referee myself, I am fully aware of the abuse we face as a profession and support this strike action. I would gladly have gone on strike too if I were still refereeing 11-a-side adult football.
(26.02.17) – International Relations: Who are Norwich’s Twins?
The idea of ‘twinning cities’ and forming links with other communities worldwide came about following the Second World War. It was seen as a way of spreading understanding of different cultures with the aim of lessening the risk of future international conflict. At present, twinned places are regularly used as opportunities for trade and business in the UK – but perhaps not justifying for many people the money spent on maintaining these friendships. However, with fear of outsiders and those different to us seemingly rife in the media and amongst public opinion, the bringing together and understanding of other worldwide communities seems an excellent justification for a twinning programme.
Norwich is currently twinned with four other cities across the globe; Rouen in France, Koblenz in Germany, Novi Sad in Serbia and El Vejo in Nicaragua.
(12.02.17) – Treated Like Royalty – Why I Truly Appreciate UEA
In response to Lewis Martin’s article ‘Don’t Be Fooled by the Royal Illusion – The Failings of UEA.’
The Queen’s recent visit to the University of East Anglia was, in my opinion, rightly celebrated as a momentous occasion in the university’s history. I might not be hugely pro-monarchy, but I am definitely pro-UEA, and I could appreciate the enthusiasm and atmosphere on campus on the day of Her Majesty’s arrival. I followed the event closely on social media and thought it brought a sense of enjoyment and happiness to a cold January day, with large a crowd turning out to celebrate not only the Queen, but the university as an institution too, which was great to see. However, I found it interesting that not everyone saw it that way.
(15.01.16) – Football: Our Beautiful Game
So much is written about institutions which are culturally important to us. Visual arts, music and literature — to give some examples — are all vital art forms for Norwich and are rightly given a lot of local attention. They allow people to experience different cultures and opinions whilst inspiring and intriguing across the city. It can be a minor hobby for some, but a whole life for others. These arts enhance so many lives and need to be protected for the good of the citizens of Norwich. We often hear that arts funding and exposure is in a crisis (and this is an important discussion) but so is something else which I worry may be overlooked by the progressive media.
Football, while not exactly a form of art, holds many of the same characteristics as art institutions when employed on a citywide scale.
As another Christmas passes us by, society suddenly remembers about the people living their lives on the streets. The cold weather and family focus of this time of year always seems to bring about fresh discussion, reports, and news concerning the issues around homelessness. Thankfully, much of the talk on the subject – especially on social media – is rather positive. This year I’ve seen a considerable number of friends and colleagues on Twitter and Facebook talking about admirable projects that provide food, care and company to those without a home during the Christmas period.
It pleases me to say that Norwich as a city is very committed to charity work at Christmas time. Homeless charities often hold extra appeals for donations over the period and many places offer extra food and accommodation where possible. Perhaps the most successful event I’ve encountered is Norwich Open Christmas, which in 2016 celebrated 25 years of serving hot food and drink and providing entertainment to those who are without shelter or company on the 25th. They also give out clothes and food parcels to those who need them, ensuring that people are able to benefit from this generosity long after the day itself. This longer-term focus is key. To ensure homelessness isn’t a problem for life, we all have to accept that it isn’t just a problem for Christmas. Public perception needs to be focused on rough sleepers all year round.
(20.11.16) – Why Traditional Campaigning Needs a Comeback
The other week, I made the decision to purchase train tickets for a 4AM journey down to London, just a few days before all of my university coursework was due. As with many other activists across the country, I was off to spend the first day of December in Richmond Park talking to voters for the parliamentary by-election taking place there. Some people might call that a stupid decision – and they’re probably correct – but there is an important reason as to why I did it. It’s the same reason that I trudged the streets of Norwich in May and again in June this year putting bits of paper through letter boxes and knocking on doors as I went around. I believe that traditional political campaigning holds the key to winning elections.
(06.11.16) – Learning to Love Our City Hall
Growing up in Norwich gets you used to quite a few things about the city. If you’ve been here for as long as I have, you stop noticing the churches hidden on street corners, the city walls poking out from behind trees — even a massive castle overlooking the city just becomes part of normal life. Staying on in Norwich for university allows me to get to know the city through the eyes of people who haven’t lived here for quite so long.
Odd discussions of Norwich with university friends often involve chatting about places and buildings, and being known as a local, I often end up giving directions to people. If ever in these talks I mention our City Hall, most responses I get are “what?” and “where?” and this to me is a massive shame. City Hall is often forgotten by Norwich residents and ignored by those visiting. It’s a building that represents us like no other and suits Norwich just perfectly, and we should learn to love it.
I’m James Anthony, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Town Close. I’ve always been interested in politics and how ordinary people can make extraordinary changes to the world around them. I believe that any level of government, local or national, should always work for the people and never the other way round. Individuals need to be free to live their lives and government should only interfere with that right when the rights of others are at risk. This is why I became a Liberal Democrat.