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Hunstanton Turnstone Lynn News column: town council rebuilding special relationship with USAF and unique twinning were achievements

By John Maiden

Taking up issues raised in a Viewpoint letter to the editor is not normally something for this column, but the points raised by Clifford Sewell in the Lynn News on Friday, September 16 are worth addressing.

He began by asking what Hunstanton Town Council has achieved in the last 12 years. He then answered his own question with one word: nothing! Since I was twice elected to the Town Council between 2010 and 2015, I will take it upon myself to set the record straight.

Friends from the USAF 67th SOS visited the Heritage Centre in November 2019. Photo: Elaine Bird
Friends from the USAF 67th SOS visited the Heritage Centre in November 2019. Photo: Elaine Bird

With the recent visit of Reis Leming's daughter to our small town, I can look back with considerable satisfaction at the way in which a majority of town councillors seized the opportunity to rebuild this town's special relationship with the USAF.

There should be no need for me to explain, why the USAF Special Operations Squadron was granted the Freedom of Hunstanton in 2014 and was uniquely 'Twinned' with our town in 2016.

West Norfolk Council also deserves credit for the assistance rendered by its workforce in recognition of the good publicity our very special relationship created for tourism.

Sadly, I have to share Mr Sewell's objection to large scale redevelopment of land that once contained the wonderful Westgate Gardens; together with other sites chosen for residential schemes around the town.

Mr Sewell must have lived in this neck of the woods long enough to know that the main purpose of the Town Council is to act as a sounding board for local public opinion. In my experience, dating back to local government reorganisation in 1974, it is extremely rare for the recommendation of the town council to make any difference to the outcome of planning applications.

Therefore, Mr Sewell should really be focussing his attention on the decisions made at King's Court, in Lynn, and at County Hall, in Norwich. He would do well to remember that in Lynn there are just two councillors elected to represent Hunstanton. In Norwich there is only one.

Why anyone should blame Hunstanton & District Civic Society, founded in 2002, for the lack of investment in my home town is beyond comprehension. The Heritage Centre, together with the library and a Conference Centre, could have been safely installed in the former Primary School by now. Instead it has been left to one philanthropist and the Civic Society to provide a much needed Heritage Centre in the former NatWest Bank.

It has to be said, however, that Hunstanton's decline began prior to local government reorganisation. A repairing covenant in the pier lease should have been enforced by the le Strange Estate, before ownership passed to Hunstanton Urban District Council in 1955; and then on to West Norfolk District Council in 1974.

The swimming pool and railway station were sacrificed to make way for an all weather leisure centre that never happened. Some £25,000, which could have been spent on improvements to the swimming pool, was simply handed over to West Norfolk District Council when local government was completely 'disorganised' in 1974.

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