Two long-serving Brancaster parish council stalwarts have decided not to stand for
re-election at forthcoming May elections.
John Snelling, currently chairman, and Cyril Southerland have between them served for nearly 50 years after both were elected in 1991 to a council that covers Brancaster, Brancaster Staithe and Burnham Deepdale.
They come from families that have lived in the area for generations and are part of a coastal community that is strongly linked with fishing and pleasure boat sailing.
Mr Snelling owns the Marine Centre in Brancaster Staithe that sells and maintains boats and is the fourth generation of his family to run the business. Cyril Southerland, whose family has also been linked with the area for several generations, has been a fisherman for 50 years and knows the coastal waters and the shore line like the back of his hand.
“In that time there have been big changes, from fishing for whelks to crabs and lobsters, now.”
Both vividly remember major issues that arose during their time in office. Mr Snelling recalled that one of the biggest events was the work of the council in 1996, backed by strong local support, that prevented a scheme to bolster sea defences designed to protect a local golf course by dumping rubble as a line of defence along a stretch of beach.
“It’s part of a site of Special Scientific Interest and a wonderful beach which would have been destroyed for visitors,” said Mr Southerland.
“The council won the day. An alternative method was found that satisfied both the council and the golf club,” said Mr Snelling.
Mr Snelling said that in his opinion the biggest change was the way the council tackled issues. “Back then if something had to be done we rolled up our sleeves and got on with it.”
Both remember actively installing bollards in a car park and working on beach clean-ups. “Current legislation now somewhat curtails these activities,” said Mr Snelling.
They are also both proud of the part they have played in the fight to bring more than 30 units of affordable housing to the area. “We are one of the leading parish councils that fought for affordable housing,” said Mr Southerland. “It’s important if you want to hold a local community together,” added Mr Snelling.
But they are also aware that the coast is a popular holiday destination. “We spent much of our time looking after the interests of not only residents but visitors. Brancaster Staithe’s winter population is 400. In the summer it’s 4,000,” said Mr Snelling.
Both have also taken a keen interest in local charities and the customs and rights of areas such as the Salt Marsh and Barrow commons. Representatives of the parish council not only sit on the committees of all these various organisations but take an active part in their management.
“It’s the right time to leave and, hopefully, be replaced by the younger generation,” said Mr Snelling.