Turnstone, by John Maiden, November 25, 2014

Hunstanton view ANL-141121-134712001
Hunstanton view ANL-141121-134712001
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In 1972 Stealer’s Wheel recorded their debut album Stuck in the Middle With You and over a million copies were sold worldwide.

It has always been a favourite of mine, especially the lyric that says “Fools to the left of me jokers to the right”. Unfortunately, it was used in 1992 as background music for the torture scene in Quentin Tarantino’s debut film Reservoir Dogs, now every time I hear the song it conjures up an image of Mr Blonde, the character played with gruesome realism by Michael Madsen, cutting the ear off his helpless victim.

In much the same way that Reginald Perrin could not think of his mother-in-law without imagining a hippopotamus!

However, in recent months the lyrics of the song have proved to be an apt description of events far removed from the silver screen, but very close to the Capitol cinema, now better known as the Princess Theatre.

Incredible as it may seem, West Norfolk Council is seriously considering the possibility of allowing McCarthy & Stone to take up a large proportion of the adjacent car park for at least a year, or as long as it takes to erect their massive apartment block, which very few local inhabitants want to see on the site of the former Westgate Gardens.

There will be an offer from McCarthy & Stone to compensate WNC for the loss of car parking revenue, but this will be of little comfort to the Princess management team, or to theatre-goers, shoppers and many town centre businesses.

To quote another lyric from Stuck in the Middle: “Trying to make sense of it all, I can see it makes no sense at all.”

What makes even less sense is a proposal for heavy lorries, making deliveries to the building site, to enter via the car park entrance and exit via the bus station.

I know Norfolk Green is now part of the Stagecoach Group, but this is no excuse for holding up the buses while lorries perform potentially dangerous manoeuvres in close proximity to passenger carrying vehicles.

The one positive thing to come out of these proposals is the acknowledgement by the borough council that temporary encroachment is subject to a definite period of time, measured in weeks or months rather than years.

Hopefully, this will persuade the council’s property services manager to redefine his definition of permanent encroachment. Not so long ago he suggested to me that encroachment could only be considered as permanent if it would be forever!

Will he now concede that when it comes to property, the term permanent applies to any open ended disposal of public land, regardless of whether it is the siting of tables and chairs on public land, or the erection of a building on land leased to a tenant by West Norfolk council for a period of 999 years?