Villagers back call to buy historic Heacham Park land

Residents pack into Heacham's public hall to discuss a proposal to buy the historic Heacham Park
Residents pack into Heacham's public hall to discuss a proposal to buy the historic Heacham Park
Have your say

Residents have given their overwhelming support to calls for community leaders to buy an historic village park for future generations to enjoy.

Around 150 people backed campaigners’ call for Heacham parish council to seek a loan for the £500,000 needed to purchase the Heacham Park site during a public meeting on Sunday.

Supporters of the plan say that the loan could be paid for by increasing the village’s council tax by 69 pence a week for an average home over 10 years.

And members of the steering group formed to lead the battle to secure the land now plan to lobby the council to consider taking on a loan or approaching the trustees of a fund set aside for youth and community facilities on the issue at its meeting tonight.

Group member Jimmy Groom said yesterday: “We want to ask them to borrow the money and put the rates up. That’s the one we’ve got to win.”

Parish council chairman Peter Colvin confirmed the issue will be discussed tonight, but said he could not comment further as the council has not yet determined its position.

A total of 146 people voted in favour of the loan proposal during the meeting held in the village’s public hall, with just one against.

Thousands of pounds have already been pledged by residents towards the cost of buying the land, though campaigners have warned donations are not enough on their own, given interest from other parties.

Residents Paul and Yvonne Ayres told the meeting said the park would provide a much needed public open space for walking their four dogs, instead of having to drive them to the beach or to Sandringham country park.

Michael English, a former lecturer at the College of West Anglia, who was involved in a fundraising campaign towards improving Heacham’s youth and community facilities in the 1990s and early 2000s, said trustees should be asked to release £385,000 from a fund set aside for that purpose.

He said the money would help to provide a wonderful asset for people of all ages.

After the meeting, David Mackay, a former deputy head of Heacham Primary School, reiterated this message by citing the foresight of Charles Strachan, the benefactor responsible for the hall where the meeting was held and the adjacent sports facilities.

Campaigners believe they would be able to raise the money needed to top up the youth and community fund if the fund was made available.

Tonight’s meeting is at the Jubilee Clinic in Pound Lane and starts at 7.30pm.