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.
(25.02.18) Corbyn and Brexit: Better Off Staying Quiet?
Having initially been amused at Labour’s new policy on Brexit being described as ‘Evolution not Revolution’ – a line straight out of the first episode of I’m Alan Partridge – I found it interesting that many news sites and papers were suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn will use a speech on Monday to bring a little more clarity over his party’s position on Brexit. Much like Alan, Corbyn will want to be seen to ‘evolve not revolve’, but one thing has been increasingly clear over the past year or so – Labour’s lines of attack on the government have certainly not ‘revolved’ around Brexit.
Many have accused Labour of being unclear or rather ambivalent about their stance on the UK leaving the European Union. However, electorally at least, this has worked very well for the Labour party and I believe it would be a mistake for them to deviate from this stance.
n January 2018, it was announced that sixteen and seventeen year-olds in Wales will be given the right to vote in their local elections, under proposals set out by the Welsh Labour government. Along with Scotland, where votes at sixteen is already reality, Welsh policy will now be at odds with England and Northern Ireland where the voting age for any sort of election is eighteen. The idea that someone who is exactly the same age and has just as many years in education as another can be denied the right to vote based on location is extremely unfair. Perhaps it’s time the Conservative government reconsider their position on the voting a
(24.12.17) – Who is Standing Up for Football Fans?
Earlier this week, Norwich City Football Club announced that they would be moving young season ticket holders and their accompanying adults out of their seats over safety concerns caused by supporters standing up during matches. Fans are not permitted to stand in seating areas of the stadium, and the club is responsible for enforcing this. This latest move has come as advice from a safety advisory group, who warns that the club could face their stadium capacity being reduced if fans continue to stand up during games. Safety must be the number one concern at football matches, but there have to be better options in the long term than displacing young fans who are being moved through no fault of their own.
(03.12.17) – Poor Social Mobility Shouldn’t Be Normal for Norfolk
Sadly, it may come as no surprise that earlier this week a government report revealed that Norfolk is one of the worst areas in the country for social mobility. Often stereotyped as a rural backwater and with a disappointingly spot on reputation for appalling educational standards and failing children’s services in recent years, it is awful that the government appear to be finding this acceptable and are not increasing funds for social mobility in our county.
While it is unfortunately not too surprising that rural Norfolk isn’t great for social mobility, the equally poor ranking for the city of Norwich will shock many. Our fine city is often hailed as some sort of utopia, full of educated professionals, left wing representation and a good jobs market, but the embarrassing fact is that Norwich isn’t always as perfect as we think. Outside of the affluent city centre and Golden Triangle, there are areas of real deprivation – and no serious attempt by our Tory government is being made to fix this.
(12.11.17) – War or Peace? The Great Poppy Debate
In the last couple of weeks, millions of people have been wearing poppies in advance of Remembrance Day, and once again it’s kicked off the same debate I see every year. The poppy debate seems to be a hugely divisive issue, with some outright refusing to wear one, seeing it as a symbol which glorifies conflict, and some people determined to make sure everyone wears one. I’m not convinced it’s quite as contentious an issue as it often appears in the press, but it is greatly worrying that Remembrance Sunday seems to become more and more about who wears a poppy and who doesn’t – and this attitude has to stop.
The poppy was never supposed to cause political controversy. Inspired by similar poppy wearing initiatives in France, the Royal British Legion launched the first Poppy Appeal in Britain in 1921 to commemorate those who fought and died in the First World War, but many have argued against this idea from the very start. The white poppy, worn to symbolise peace as a reaction against the red poppy, has existed since 1933, showing that this debate has been going on for an awfully long time. To this day, so many of us still wear the red or white poppy, but many choose not to, arguing over what they truly represent.
(24.09.17) – Market Forces: 900 Years Later
Our society is governed by market forces. You can hardly sit through a news broadcast without the mention of stocks and shares, commodity prices or talk of the single market in relation to Brexit. It’s very easy to forget that markets are real, physical institutions that pop up around towns and cities across the country, sadly written off by many consumers in favour of large, corporate run supermarkets.
(10.09.17) – Rees-Mogg: Not to be Underestimated
Content warning: article mentions homophobia, religion, Trump, and Farage.
Earlier this week, many of us watched on in horror as one of our potential Prime Ministers spouted his frankly archaic, illiberal views on Good Morning Britain. I thought to myself that alongside all the atheists, progressives and liberals of the UK, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s spin doctors and supporters must also be holding their head in their hands. His interview would have been seen by a large number of people and the further press coverage was extensive – surely this was the death blow to any leadership ambitions.
I suppose I have a lot of faith in our electorate and like to think that outing yourself as anti-choice, homophobic, and quite frankly medieval, on national television would ruin your political career.
(13.08.17) – A Golden Age for the Golden Triangle?
There are a lot of stresses that come with moving house. Earlier in August, I spent a fair number of days experiencing both as I shifted location in Norwich.I was making sure I had all of my belongings, desperately trying to cover up any damage or stains, and trying to work out the logistics of carrying my entire life from one house to another. The only saving grace in this process was the fact that I have only moved about five minutes down the road – across what is known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ – an especially desirable area to live in Norwich. For years, it has been considered one of the best places to be just outside the city centre, even gaining national coverage for its popularity. A reasonable judgement, to this day.
(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.