Safety row breaks out over Hunstanton’s Spinney licence bid

The Spinney in Hunstanton which opens on Wednesday.
The Spinney in Hunstanton which opens on Wednesday.

A regeneration project, which is due to be unveiled tomorrow, is at the centre of a row between police and council chiefs over public safety.

Civic and community leaders are due to gather at the Hunstanton Spinney on Wednesday afternoon to mark the completion of work on the £347,000 scheme.

But West Norfolk Council officials’ hopes of using the space as a live music and entertainment venue have suffered a setback after police objected to the idea.

They say alterations to the scheme are “paramount” before it can be given the go-ahead.

The authority has applied for a regulated entertainment licence, which, if approved, would allow performances to take place in the area at any time between 10am and 11pm every day.

The application, which will be the subject of a council committee meeting next week, would permit live or recorded music to be played, films to be shown or performances of dance or plays to be staged.

But, ahead of the meeting, it has emerged that Norfolk Police are opposing the plan, because of what they describe as “serious concerns” for public safety.

In a letter to the council’s licensing department, Tony Grover, a licensing officer for the force, said: “The police do not consider that enough thought has been given to the safety aspects of providing entertainment to all age groups which could be attracted to this area and could attract hundreds of people during a performance. The risk of an accidental coming together between vehicles and pedestrians is too great at this time.”

But Alistair Beales, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said the arrangements were similar to those used outside many London museums.

He said the council had presented a scheme itfelt was appropriate, adding: “If you’re looking for zero risk, that’s not what you’re going to get.”

In the application document, Chris Bamfield, the council’s head of leisure and public space, said: “Appropriate risk assessments will be written prior to each event. Control measures will be in place to ensure, where practicable, the safety of all visitors and users.”

But Mr Grover said performances should be staged towards the new paved and grassed area, rather than towards the High Street as currently envisaged.

Referring to the case of Rio Bell, the three-year-old who was killed in a collision close to the Lynn Mart two years ago, he added: “The borough council should not need to be reminded about the problems that are associated with any injury caused to any person attending a public event on property owned or controlled by them.”

The application is due to be examined by the council’s licencing committee at Hunstanton’s town hall next Monday, February 24, from 10am.