Buttercross, March 6, 2015: What do we want for Swaffham?

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It made interesting reading recently when it was stated that a town not too far from us, and still in our County, had its town council ask its residents, by way of a questionnaire, what they wanted from their town.

Was it being administered satisfactorily by its council? Was there anything that could and should be done better? Were there things that perhaps should not be done at all?

Longer term views were also sought on what townspeople wanted and expected from their town, such as how it should develop. These are not all the questions asked but it was refreshing to see them asked at all.

The response was impressive, with the form being filled in and returned by some 2000 townspeople in a population not too dissimilar to our own.

This then gave its council, who after all were elected to carry out the bidding of the people that elected them, some insight on what was expected of them, both now and in the future.

Voting time will be with us shortly and it can only be hoped and trusted that the result of the survey in this town will in fact be noted and, just perhaps, acted on.

Items that came near or at the top of the list were day to day issues which we certainly could identify equally with, such as car parking, dog fouling, through traffic, safe pedestrian walking in the town centre and the provision of well maintained public toilets.

Longer term development included a relief road for through traffic, sensible housing development and one or two other items more specific to them.

Those items, both big and smaller, apply equally to our town. We have had our Advance Swaffham forward look together with other listed items being added which also look into our future needs, but how do these square with what our townspeople see as important, and in what order should they be addressed?

Already we are having people expressing concern over our lack of infrastructure when considering the considerable amount of new housing that is planned around the edges of our town, and more precisely along the ever loaded A1065.

It was interesting to read recently of the concern in Norwich where the Royal Norwich golf course is now being lost to large housing developments.

Another “green lung” lost to what will become massed housing estates, with existing infrastructure ever more loaded, perhaps beyond sensible capacity. But, unfortunately, money talks and usually triumphs.

With regard to our particular needs, it would be good for our small town if more “infill” development occurred near our actual centre. When eventually Jean Davey”s old bungalow plot is built on, and similarly where the old nursery site was, we will have more people, and hopefully families, occupying these central areas, something we badly need.

With the prefab that was the playschool building being demolished, memories have been recalled of the old open fronted cow shed that used to sit just behind that front wall.

No doubt the ghosts of Mikey Cooper, Johnny Eagle, the Prebbles, the Stoners and one or two more will be looking down on these goings-on. That shed and the smallholding with it used to be an ideal hideaway for town lads to have a quiet smoke and chat some 70 years ago. How times have changed.