Turnstone, by John Maiden, October 27, 2015

Some members of Hunstanton & District Chamber of Trade have suggested that £14,000 should be spent on festive lights.

If this opinion is shared by a majority of members then surely they could raise the money themselves instead of expecting the Town Council to allocate funds that could be put to better use elsewhere?

If the proposal involves repairing the apparently defunct lights in the Westgate Spinney, then they should think again, because according to experts in arboriculture, who were consulted prior to the recent enhancement scheme, several of the Spinney trees were not being cared for as well as they should be.

Even to a non-expert, it is fairly obvious that these trees would look much better if the wires running between them and wrapped around their branches could be carefully removed, instead of trying to make them look ‘pretty’ just for the festive season. At the time of the enhancement, attractive street lights were installed together with some up-lighters, so the impact of the tree lights would actually do very little to improve the appearance of the street scene.

Trees are, of course, very important in urban areas, because they enhance the landscape and help to sustain wildlife, while adding oxygen to the air we breathe. This is why planning permission has to be obtained before any tree can be cut back or removed within a Conservation Area. If permission is granted it is usually conditional on replacement by another mature tree. No doubt action will shortly be taken to replace a tree, not far from the Westgate Spinney, which shows all the signs of having been poisoned.

The good news is that the proposal to restore The Green and Esplanade Gardens to their former glory is likely to include a considerable amount of tree planting. In time this should soften the appearance of 
Harlequin House, which blights the site formerly occupied by the much more dignified 
and elegant Sandringham Hotel.

If all else fails, perhaps the ‘pier’ entertainment centre could be screened from view by a row of pine trees similar to those planted forty years ago to the east of the A149 in an effort to soften the appearance of another eyesore – Hunstanton Secondary Modern School – known today as Smithdon High – a Grade II* Listed Building! An application has been submitted to West Norfolk Council on behalf of Hunstanton & District Civic Society, for the ‘pier’ to be Listed - not as Grade II*, but 
as an Asset of Community Value!

Hopefully, a majority of town councillors will support this initiative, thereby making up for the fact that in 2002 their predecessors backed plans for the hangar-shaped ‘pier’ building on The Green by just 7 votes to 4 - with one prominent councillor being quoted in the Lynn News, on Friday 13th September, describing the ‘hangar’ as “a nice modern building stating what modern Hunstanton is about.”

Clearly, such a description is at odds with the current policy of restoring lost features instead of replacing them with ‘modern’ eyesores, and it will not matter how many festive lights are shining in the town if this golden opportunity to enhance the appearance of The Green is wasted.