Henry (Fred) “Shrimp” Houseago, 87, the legendary activist and newt-chaser, has emerged from hiding to attack plans to cripple and exploit motorists in Norwich and elsewhere.
Mr Houseago was once voted the person with the most influence on Norfolk life, narrowly beating Richard “Volcano” Meek, the admired explorer, into sixth place. With the assistance of his former fiancée, Dorothea Goodchild, he conducted a long and genial campaign against the influence of newts on town and country planning, accusing them of conducting a “divisive and deceptive propaganda-driven attack” on the Norfolk way of life.
He is now concerned that one consortium of great-crested newts is making a comeback, sometimes using the name Transport for Norwich, and sometimes the name of a former Leeds midfielder who prefers to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
He says the newts want all of Norwich, even those roads that are closed – which is most of them – to have a maximum speed limit of 20mph. This is because 20 rhymes with “plenty”, which Mr Houseago describes as “the most unfortunate linguistic coincidence this century”.
He adds: “It will soon escalate, or possibly decelerate. You mark my words, we’ll soon be regaled with ‘Ten is Zen’, and some other so-called genius will be made an MBE.”
Comet-chaser and whole food chef Len “Kissme” Hardy, an old opponent of Mr Houseago, denied that the 20mph project was pointless and a vanity project. He also claimed that public consultation was carried out in order to find out what people wanted, but this suggestion was discounted as “far-fetched” and in some cases “ludicrous”.
Mr Houseago, in a burst of research-led thinking, pointed out that Manchester City Council had abandoned a plan for a city-wide roll-out of 20mph limits because it wasn’t having the anticipated benefits. But Mr Hardy retorted that Leicestershire County Council, which was nearer and therefore more likely to be right, wanted more average speed cameras, regardless of whether they were needed or not. Unfortunately the DfT did not think this was a good idea.
Mr Houseago said it just went to show that even the DfT could be right occasionally.
Meanwhile a newt representing Twenty’s Plenty said there should be no need to ask people whether they wanted things, because newts already knew what was best, and it was a waste of time. “That’s typical,” said Ms Goodchild from her almost inaccessible home in the centre of Norwich.