Wensum, by Jim Harding, February 16, 2016

Forceful words have been exchanged by town and district councillors at meetings and also through letters in the local press. Interestingly, views expressed by the town’s residents have almost unanimously given the move the thumbs down.

I wonder why that is? Partly because none of us, I suspect, likes change.

If you are a user of this space towards the northern end of town, its convenience and the fact that it is free is an obvious attraction. Well, it still remains free for cars and other vehicles which are below the 3 metre height restriction. It’s the buses, coaches and lorries which have been outlawed as they are perceived to be the main culprits in damaging the unsealed surface.

What I reckon to be at the heart of this matter, apart from the fact that it was rather sprung on town councillors without a consultation period, is the convenience factor. Highfield Road is unusual in that anyone has been able to leave their vehicles there for free since way back. Plenty of transport companies have taken advantage of this with drivers frequently parking their lorries overnight. Not something that seems to have bothered the immediate neighbourhood. Buses and coaches have often driven in to drop off or pick up passengers and market traders were known to use the space in the past though seem less likely to do so nowadays. It should be added that there are also public loos on the site which, it goes without saying, are a great convenience. All in all, it’s been a come and go as you like facility which has suited the majority in our town.

It was perhaps inevitable that the district council would intervene at some stage and size up how it might best use this area to its advantage. With its budget under serious scrutiny who knows what the future might hold.

Feasibly, I suppose, by making it into a proper car park, charges could be applied as they do elsewhere across the region. We await developments.

In the same territory, I hear that we have ‘escaped’ paying increased district council fees for parking at the Limes, Bridge Street and Queens Road, at least for another year or so. This is in contrast to the coastal resorts where residents and visitors will have to cough up a bit more from July.

Our Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel has just determined local police priorities for the next three months.

There will be some concentration on the so-called Bullock Hills in Hempton, a popular dog-walking stretch of common land, which is being damaged. Quad bikes, trail bikes and 4 x 4 vehicles have been playing havoc with the pathways and causing extreme nuisance in a quiet landscape.

The police will also be responding to complaints about speeding cars in villages around the town where speed restrictions are being ignored.

Their third priority will concern itself with anti-social driving antics, primarily by younger drivers, at the Tesco supermarket. Allied to this will be a more general focus on vehicles failing to display proper lighting.

Horse racing enthusiasts will know that Olympic gold medal cyclist Victoria Pendleton has set her heart on riding at the Cheltenham Festival in March. In her quest she has been training under the watchful eyes of such as Tony McCoy and champion trainer Paul Nichols plus taking part in a number of point-to-point races. Her next big step along the way will come on Friday [February 19] when she is due to make her hunter chase debut at Fakenham. She is down to ride Pacha Du Polder, trained by Nichols, a horse she came close to winning with recently. Her popularity as an exceptional sportswoman seems bound to boost the crowd, especially as the meeting is being held during half-term week.

Great news for all concerned.