Suffolk

OPINION: We'd have run out of food for 2020 by now if we didn't use imported goods

Opinion

The UK imports around 400,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes each year from countries such as The Netherlands

The UK imports around 400,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes each year from countries such as The Netherlands

dgdimension

Columnist Andy Newman says we need to swallow our pride if we think we can just rely on food produced in the UK

It is now nearly six months since those dark days at the start of the Covid crisis, when many people had very real concerns about how they were going to feed their families during lockdown. We genuinely didn’t know if our food production and distribution system was going to be able to cope.

We rightly stood and clapped NHS workers, but that those toiling away to keep us fed also deserve our gratitude. Whatever other parts of the UK’s infrastructure struggled, there was always food on the shelves, and in the thousands of vans delivering it to our door. Our farmers, producers, distributors and retailers all stepped up to the plate when needed.

But last Friday we were reminded that we are very far from being self-sufficient as a nation when it comes to feeding ourselves. August 21 was the date that, if we were relying solely on food produced in the UK, we would have run out. Without imports, we would have nothing to eat for the rest of the year.

You see, the fact that we continued to have food on the table throughout lockdown is not just a British achievement.

Even as we in the UK looked on in horror at the toll the pandemic was taking in Italy, truck drivers from that country were driving to Norwich every day with lorries loaded with all sorts of produce. When they got to the Norfolk distribution centres they weren’t even allowed to get out of their vehicles; they sat there while unloading took place, and then drove straight back to the continent. And because of them, and many like them, the shelves remained stocked.

I mention this because there is a significant under-current of British exceptionalism around, which needs to be debunked. The sense that we don’t need the rest of the world, or at any rate ‘they need us more than we need them’ is simply nonsense. Whatever political and regulatory structures we end up with, we are inter-dependent, not just for the luxuries, but in order to survive.

Of course, we could be doing more to try and achieve a higher level of food self-sufficiency, but even at its peak 40 years ago we only managed to get to 75 per cent – which means even then we were reliant on imports for a quarter of everything we ate.

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Let’s not forget also that increasing food production means we would have to farm more intensively, and work our limited land supply even harder. How does that square with the commitment to respect the environment and be better guardians of the countryside?

The Covid crisis may have shone the spotlight on our food security, but the truth is that in good times and bad, we need to have a free-flowing trading relationship with other countries if we are not to go hungry. Pretending that this is not true, invoking some strange and very rose-tinted wartime spirit and hoping everything will be alright just doesn’t cut it.

If so-called independence means we have to starve, that is not a price worth paying.

There is actually nothing wrong in being dependent on imports for a proportion of what we eat. It’s a function of the inter-connected world in which we live, and it’s a fact of life that almost every nation on earth needs imports, whether of food, energy or other vital commodities.

It is for this reason that the most prosperous countries are those which embrace open trade, and the least successful tend to be those which adopt a protectionist approach in the misguided hope that this will somehow boost domestic production and increase self-sufficiency. Experience teaches us that this simply doesn’t happen.

Here in Norfolk we produce about a tenth of the nation’s food, which makes us a net exporter as a county; in other areas (such as energy) we are a net importer. All that means is that we are playing to our strengths, and the fact that when you turn on your TV the power to run it is coming from a Suffolk nuclear power plant or a gas-fired power station in Yorkshire is neither here nor there.

If we are happy that this happens between regions in the UK, why do some people have a problem accepting it can happen between different countries as well? As the lockdown showed, even in the most adverse situations the system doesn’t break down. It has served us well for decades.

The thing which threatens our food supply is not the coronavirus, it is isolating ourselves and convincing ourselves we don’t need the rest of the world.

That is sheer stupidity – and there is no vaccine for that.


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Police name lorry driver who died following A14 collision

Lorries tailed back for miles on the A14 following the collision Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Lorries tailed back for miles on the A14 following the collision Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Archant

A lorry driver who died following a collision on the A14 at Rougham on Tuesday has been named by police.

Craig Keeble, aged 48, of Colchester, was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident, which happened just before 9.45am on Tuesday August 25.

His identity is subject to confirmation at formal inquest proceedings.

Police were called just before 9.45am to reports of a collision involving two lorries on the eastbound carriageway.

Ambulance and fire crews were also in attendance, along with a critical care team from the Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS).

The driver of the other lorry was taken to West Suffolk Hospital but did not sustain any serious injuries.

The eastbound carriageway was closed between junctions 43 and 45 for almost 11 hours, reopening at around 8.40pm, to allow for a collision investigation to take place and for the recovery of both lorries.

Mr Keeble’s gym, Anytime Fitness Colchester paid tribute to him on Facebook, describing him as a “truly amazing” person.

“He talked to absolutely everyone in the gym & if you didn’t know his name you most definitely knew who he was anyway because he had a habit of just talking, talking, talking to everyone,” read the post.

Police are continuing to appeal for any witnesses to the collision to come forward – including anyone who may have travelled along the road in either direction just prior to the incident and has a dash cam in their vehicle.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit either by emailing SCIU@suffolk.pnn.police.uk or calling 101, and quoting reference CAD 71 of August 25.


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JCB forklift stolen from Long Melford buidling site

Police are appealing for help after a JCB forklift was stolen in Long Melford. Stock photo. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Police are appealing for help after a JCB forklift was stolen in Long Melford. Stock photo. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Police are appealing for information after a JCB forklift was stolen from a building site in Long Melford.

Suffolk police said the forklift was towed by thieves driving a Toyota 4×4 from a building site in Bull Lane shortly before 12.30am on Tuesday.

A short while later, officers on patrol on the A1092 noticed the Toyota in the road and a forklift and truck in a nearby field.

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Two or three unknown men then ran towards the Toyota, drove away and failed to stop for police.

Officers followed the vehicle but stood down near a field in Cavendish.

The Toyota was later recovered in a field but there was no trace of the suspects. The truck and forklift were also recovered.

Anyone with information related to the incident, or who saw three men in the Peacocks Road area of Cavendish at the time, is urged to contact police, quoting crime reference 37/49362/20.


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'It's amazing': Norwich man reunited with his uncle's dog tag 77-years after his death

PJ Ramm 1940. Picture: Royal British Legion

PJ Ramm 1940. Picture: Royal British Legion

Royal British Legion

An unexpected phone call has led to a family being reunited with their relative’s lost dog tags, some 77 years after he died in a prisoner of war camp.

Dog tags PJ Ramm. Picture: Royal British LegionDog tags PJ Ramm. Picture: Royal British Legion

Robin Green, from Norwich, knew of his uncle Peter Ramm’s service during the Second World War and of his death in a PoW camp in Singapore aged 23 through the diaries he left behind.

For years, he believed these and a suitcase with his uncle’s inscription on were all he had left of Mr Ramm’s time in the war.

Then in July, Mr Green received a mystery phone call from someone trying to track down his uncle’s existing family in order to return Mr Ramm’s dog tags to them.

Mr Green said: “I received a phone call one afternoon from a chap named Robert Adie.

Eric Adie. Picture: Royal British LegionEric Adie. Picture: Royal British Legion

“He said he was trying to track down Peter Ramm’s existing family as he had his service tags which his own father, Eric, had kept for all these years.”

Mr Adie, who lives in Suffolk, told Mr Green, his father, Eric Adie had trained with his uncle at Marbury Hall in Cheshire in 1940 and how both had served together in the Norfolk Regiment.

Mr Green said; “I just couldn’t believe that Robert had tracked me down after all this time and that I was speaking to someone who had a connection to my uncle. I realised that I even had a photo of the 5th Battalion taken at Marbury Hall while they were receiving training before going abroad which shows Peter and Eric next to each other.”

After completing their training the pair expected to be posted to India, but were instead sent to Singapore.

Marbury Hall 1941. Circled are Eric Adie and Peter Ramm. Picture: Royal British LegionMarbury Hall 1941. Circled are Eric Adie and Peter Ramm. Picture: Royal British Legion

Within four weeks of landing in the country, they surrendered and were taken prisoner.

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Over the next few months the pair were moved around several camps before being posted to the Burmese Railway.

After almost two years on the railway, Mr Ramm was placed on a truck to be transported to another camp, Mr Adie tried to get on the same truck but the pair were separated.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and The Royal British Legion arranged for a tribute to be placed on Peter’s grave in the CWCG cemetery Kanchanaburi, Thailand to mark the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day. Picture: Royal British Legion/Commonwealth War Graves CommissionThe Commonwealth War Graves Commission and The Royal British Legion arranged for a tribute to be placed on Peter’s grave in the CWCG cemetery Kanchanaburi, Thailand to mark the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day. Picture: Royal British Legion/Commonwealth War Graves Commission

By the time Mr Adie made it to the new camp a few days later, Mr Ramm had died from a heart attack and had already been buried, but somehow Mr Adie managed to retrieve his dog tags.

Mr Adie managed to survive being held in several camps, including Changi jail, and returned home to England in 1946, he died aged 96, in 2016.

Years later, Mr Adie’s son had been sorting through his father’s possessions during lockdown when he came across the dog tags.

Mr Adie said: “My father didn’t really talk much about his wartime service and especially not his experience as a PoW, however, he had mentioned his friend Peter who had sadly died out in one of the camps.

“For some reason my father never got around to returning Peter’s tags and so for 77-years they have been amongst his possessions until I began to sort through and realised these didn’t belong to our family.”

Mr Adie set out to return the tags and began tracking down Mr Ramm’s family, using his own Grandfather’s old address book to do so after it revealed there had been correspondence between the pair’s parents during the war.

After carrying out research, Mr Adie eventually found Mr Green’s number and called him up to explain his side of the story and the dog tags were sent back to Mr Ramm’s family, 77 years after his death.

Mr Green said: “It has been amazing to finally hear about a side of my uncle’s service I never knew about and it has made me revisit his diaries he kept in the camp – I have no idea how he kept them hidden or how thy survived being passed back to my grandparents.

“The writing in the diaries is very small and faded but it is possible to make out Eric’s name which is mentioned two days before Peter died,” he said.


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Volunteers spotted this wreckage at Shotley Pier

Sally Chicken took this picture of the wreckage of a boat against Shotley Pier

Sally Chicken took this picture of the wreckage of a boat against Shotley Pier

SALLY CHICKEN

The tide reveals many things – on this occasion this wreck at Shotley Pier.

Volunteers raising money for the restoration of the historic railway pier spotted this fiberglass boat this morning at low tide.

MORE: Shotley Pier revamp finally underway after lockdown halted plans

Sally Chicken, one of the volunteers who took this photograph, said: “We were setting up our food truck called Pierside Snacks – we serve bacon butties to anyone who wants breakfast down there – and I thought ‘that’s odd, there’s something sticking out from under the pier’.”

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She believes the boat, whose name wasn’t visible, had previously been stuck in mud at Erwarton marshes and perhaps some kids got it afloat.

She said her group, the Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society Ltd, have permission from the Harwich Haven Authority to dispose of the vessel.

“We cannot leave it there. It will damage the pier as the tide goes up and down,” she said.

Sales from the snack truck go towards funding the restoration work at the 122-year-old Shotley Railway Pier.

The first stage of renovations are nearly complete before work moves onto the railings.


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