UPDATE: Hunstanton councillors join row over Queen’s birthday beacon

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It was meant to be joyous, but shameful, disgrace and insult were among the words used to describe celebrations of the Queen’s 90th birthday in one West Norfolk town.

Dozens of people took to social media to criticise West Norfolk Council’s handling of the occasion in Hunstanton last night, in which a gas beacon was lit in the Cliff Top car park, next to the town’s wooden beacon.

Borough Mayor Colin Manning lights the beacon to mark HM The Queen's 90th birthday. ANL-160422-075257009

Borough Mayor Colin Manning lights the beacon to mark HM The Queen's 90th birthday. ANL-160422-075257009

A similar beacon was lit on Lynn’s South Quay.The authority has defended its organisation and announced plans for a weekend of eventts around the Queen’s official birthday in June.

But it has also apologised to people who were unhappy with the events.

And the furore was high on the agenda during the town council’s meeting this evening, where mayor Andrew Murray described the spectacle as “laughable.”

His predecessor Carol Bower, who is now one of the resort’s three borough council representatives, admitted there had been a “lack of communication” about what was planned.

Her Conservative counterpart Paul Beal assured the meeting that the wooden beacon could be used if risk assessments are completed first.

Asked by clerk Lisa Powell if there was anything wrong with the beacon, he quipped: “There weren’t any logs on it.”

But independent Richard Bird hit out at a request made ahead of the lighting ceremony for it not to be widely publicised.

He asked: “What sort of borough council does that? What sort of people do that?”

The siting of the gas beacon near the wooden one earlier sparked a furious reaction on social media.

Jackie Gash wrote on Facebook: “We are very lucky to be able to see the Queen at certain times, like Christmas.

“If they cannot make an effort for the Queen, on her birthday, they obviously don’t have any respect for her. It’s embarrassing. Disgusting.”

Many described it as “pathetic”, while Brenda Price added: “That’s sad....whatever your views on the monarchy, she deserved better than that.”

And a tweet to the borough council described the spectacle as “shameful.”

It added: “what an insult to Our Queen, lighting a patio heater instead of the beacon in Hunstanton tonight.”

The borough council replied: “Sorry you’re unhappy. Like many councils, we lit the same gas beacons in Lynn & Hunstanton as we lit for the Diamond Jubilee.”

A further post said similar beacons had been used in Norwich and other areas.

But Mrs Bower told the town council that the gas beacon had been sited on the Green when it was used in 2012.

Geoffrey Smith added that the wooden beacon had been lit for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002 and to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005.

Meanwhile, the borough council has revealed it is planning its major celebrations to coincide with the Queen’s official birthday in June.

A programme of celebrations is being prepared for the weekend of June 11 and 12, including a 1920s themed event.

It coincides with the King’s Lynn Lions’ annual family fun day and the Cycle Together event, which will start and finish at the Park House Hotel on the Sandringham estate.