Turnstone, by John Maiden, April 26, 2016

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This week Turnstone kicks off with an email sent in by Terry Parish, of Heacham, who had this to say: “Lighting the beacon at Hunstanton for the Queen’s birthday was advertised in the press and on-line.

“Along with others, I turned up expecting to see the purpose-built beacon on the cliffs charged and set ablaze.

“I attach a photo of the reality, an apologetic chap with his borough council van and, next to it, what amounted to a camping gas cooker on a stick. I didn’t stay to cook a sausage.

“Where there is no beacon, as at Dersingham, that might do, but there was no excuse for the pathetic provision at Hunstanton. Dersingham actually made a good job of it with a crowd, guides, cake and tea. So, the borough council can’t plan and can’t light a bonfire (on a pole). The only thing they can do is put up parking charges so it costs more to see little except the forthcoming building sites.”

Terry’s parting shot is fully justified, because although it is early in the year, motorists are already experiencing difficulty in finding on-street parking spaces, while pay-and-display car parks have plenty of room, except for the one next to the Princess Theatre, which often appears to contain several vehicles associated with the McCarthy & Stone building site.

Looking to the future it seems the town is going to suffer from the recent unwarranted relaxation in planning regulations for years to come.

The impending proliferation of housing developments in Hunstanton, especially on a site south of the town, heavily reliant on vehicular access from Heacham, will be just one of the items raised with Coastal Communities Minister, Mark Francois, when I meet him and Sir Henry Bellingham in London tomorrow. Other items on the agenda will include the purpose and composition of the ‘Coastal Community Team’, which appears to be just another version of the ill-fated ‘Town Team’, with similar unaccountable people at the helm.

Another topic for discussion will be the Civic Society’s modest initiative to have the ‘non-pier’ Listed as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ as an important first step towards rebuilding a proper pier. The original Victorian Pier and other lost assets will be the focus of attention this Thursday, when Mustard TV starts filming at the Heritage Centre as part of a documentary series on Norfolk piers. Stanley Balls, featured in a recent Turnstone column, will be just one of the people invited to share his memories of the pier when he attracted large audiences to his displays of acrobatic roller skating on the rink at the pier head. Considering its shortcomings when it came to lighting a beacon for her majesty’s 90th birthday, it was clearly expecting too much of the borough council to provide a real pier on the occasion of her diamond jubilee; much less to celebrate her golden 
jubilee in similar fashion as suggested by yours truly in a letter to the Lynn News within days of the fire on May 18, 2002.

This was really not a bad suggestion to come from a self-confessed republican!