Turnstone, by John Maiden, August 2, 2016

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Last Thursday afternoon, when driving from Heacham to Fakenham, it took nearly ten minutes to get through the traffic lights at the Norfolk Lavender crossroads.

Needless to say, this made me think about how much worse it will be if the local Highways Authority proceeds with the proposed closure of Hunstanton Road at its junction with the A149 for more than six months with effect from September 5.

For the past month I have been engaged in an exchange of emails with Highways in which I have done my best to persuade those responsible for this crazy scheme to think again and then insist that all vehicular traffic, to and from the proposed housing estate on Redgate Hill, should be via Searles Leisure Resort. If the diversion signs appear at the end of August readers will know that my best efforts have not been good enough.

There are those who accuse me of failing to recognise a lost cause when I see one, and they are probably right. There are certainly times when I feel very much like ‘Cool Hand Luke’, who kept getting back on his feet each time he was knocked down by a much more powerful opponent. In my case it is even more of an unequal contest, because sometimes I am grappling with a mixture of arrogance and ignorance displayed by local government officers or members; while on other occasions it is the apathy of parliament or the legal system that gets me down.

The latest setback came out of the blue when my ever alert daughter-in-law noticed that the former infants’ school in Valentine Road is being offered to prospective tenants as shared rental accommodation, at a time when the premises could be providing jobs rather than beds. No doubt someone will tell me otherwise, but surely this corner of northwest Norfolk is in greater need of permanent, full-time employment than in need of short-term, shared rental property.

It reminds me of a petition I handed to Christopher Brocklebank Fowler MP nearly forty years ago, which was signed by many former patients who had recuperated from various operations at the Addenbrooke’s Recovery Hospital in Clarence Road. The intention was to use the premises as a cottage hospital if they could no longer be used to aid recovery, but our MP was unable to convince the Health Minister that Hunstanton had a need for this type of facility. Fortunately, unlike many fine buildings from the same era, Addenbrooke’s survives to this day, providing permanent homes rather than employment. It remains to be seen if the school in Valentine Road will serve the local community as a place of employment, or simply generate more council tax when it too is converted into permanent apartments…