Charity makes rural training centre proposal for Heacham Park

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An historic park could be the ideal home for a rural skills training centre for young people, the boss of a West Norfolk charity has claimed.

The suggestion for the future use of Heacham Park was made by Pauline Daisley-Brown, the founder of A Change of Scene for Children, during a meeting of the village’s parish council on Tuesday night.

The idea was revealed after residents called on the authority to back a bid to buy the land for the village.

Further talks have been scheduled to take place next week.

Ms Daisley-Brown told the meeting the charity, which is based in Thornham, wants to do more to provide training opportunities in areas such as tractor driving.

She said it was difficult for many students to get to either Easton College in Norwich or the College of West Anglia to study such subjects.

She added: “Heacham Park came up and we felt it would be brilliant.”

But she stressed that any buildings that were needed on the site would be in keeping with the area, insisting: “We’re not about to turn it into a college.”

As previously reported, villagers overwhelmingly backed calls for the parish council to get involved in the scheme at a public meeting in the village on Sunday.

And Mark Pishorn, a member of the steering group formed to co-ordinate a bid for the land, told members: “We want you to back us if we put a bid on that park.”

But he added: “We will carry on even without your blessing. We want to save the park.”

Council chairman Peter Colvin said the authority would have to consider the group’s request, but praised the campaign to preserve the 44-acre site for future generations to enjoy.

He said: “The way this community has pulled together to stand up and fight for something it wants is really good and thank you all.”

An extraordinary meeting will now be held at the parish council offices next Tuesday, August 26, at 7.30pm, for further talks between the council and the steering group to take place.

However, concerns were raised over how any loan the council might consider taking out to fund the project would be paid for.

And an official of the trust formed to provide improved youth and community facilities for the village has said his organisation cannot release its funds at the moment.

Around £385,000 is thought to be held in the fund, but trustee David Page told the meeting the money was not available at the moment.

He said: “The money was given for the Heacham youth and community centre to be built.

“We don’t need one now, so we have to change the constitution, which has taken longer than we thought.”

Mr Page also claimed he and his colleagues had not seen any plans or correspondence from the steering group about the park, though that was disputed by group members.