In last Tuesday’s Lynn News David Newman complained that Hunstanton Pier gets mentioned repeatedly in my column and concludes this could be due to short term memory loss.
The fact that David is still reading Turnstone indicates that he has not been put off by the revelation of facts relating to the pier along with many other issues, including last Tuesday’s observations on the proposed McCarthy & Stone development in St Edmund’s Terrace.
Because of my historical knowledge of the pier saga, I am well placed to refute David’s latest attack on the Civic Society. According to his letter, some former councillors are claiming that CHS Amusements Ltd offered to rebuild the pier on condition that it would incorporate amusement arcades to offset the cost of maintenance.
These mysterious ex-councillors are either suffering from the same short term memory loss attributed to me, or are simply having a laugh at David’s expense.
As a founder of the Civic Society I can state with certainty that its members were not given the chance to comment on the provision of a pier.
It follows, therefore, that we did not reject this proposal on the grounds that members wanted an Environment Centre and a Victorian style tea room instead of amusement arcades.
It is perfectly true that the Civic Society came into being in 2002 after Hunstanton town council agreed by seven votes to four to support plans for the current non-pier entertainment centre, but its members had no more power then than they have now, so a veto would have been out of the question.
The town council was clearly ignoring local opinion and it was left to the Civic Society to represent the vast majority of local inhabitants who were petitioning West Norfolk Council (WNC) to reject the application by CHS Amusements Ltd to erect a pier-less, hangar shaped entertainment centre on The Green.
If Civic Society members had known then what we know now, mainly as a result of access to sensitive information grudgingly released by WNC under the Freedom of Information Act, the course of history might have been very different. Our hope now has to be that all sides to the pier debate will have learned from past mistakes and history will not be allowed to repeat itself.
In particular, I am floating an idea at present aimed at restoring The Green to its former glory, with or without a pier, so that it could qualify as a designated ‘Centenary Field’, to mark the anniversary of the First World War.
If the shelters, built under The Green shortly after WWI could be reinstated, it would be possible to modify them to house a series of permanent exhibitions charting the heritage of Hunstanton from 1914 onwards, encompassing two world wars and much more besides...