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Environmental needs should not be seen as hurdles when planning a new pool for Hunstanton

In his weekly Turnstone column, Hunstanton writer John Maiden discusses plans for a new town pool...

During his time as MP for North West Norfolk Henry Bellingham set up a meeting at which invited individuals were given the opportunity to ask Penny Mordaunt, Coastal Communities Minister at the time, for advice on the best way to obtain government funding to restore lost assets. Appropriately enough for a Coastal Communities Minister, Penny had been engaged in raising funds to renovate the Hillsea Lido in Portsmouth, to the point where she donated her fee for appearing as a TV celebrity in "Splash" - a diving programme!

If nothing else, it was hoped that our Henry would follow the example set by Penny and take the lead when it came to bringing back at least one of our town's most treasured 'crown jewels'. Within the last two years Penny Mordaunt has been successful in obtaining twenty million pounds of 'levelling up' money to spend in her Portsmouth constituency!

Hunstanton's Blue Lagoon pool in the 1950s
Hunstanton's Blue Lagoon pool in the 1950s

Henry did his best, but members of his own party here, in West Norfolk, did not appear to be giving him the support he needed, especially when it came to parity of esteem for Hunstanton, when compared with money that invariably seemed available for improvements in Lynn. It was in recognition of this apparent discrepancy that within the past two years West Norfolk Council has created what is now known as HAG - short for Hunstanton Advisory Group.

It was to be called an Advisory Board, but presumably because HAB makes an unsatisfactory acronym, the name was changed after the first two meetings . I responded to an invitation for volunteers to join this body, because I was fortunate enough to have been born and bred in Hunstanton, when it was connected to the national rail network; had a Victorian Pier; as well as an art deco swimming pool and boating lake.

It did not bother me that my MP decided who to invite to a meeting with Penny Mordaunt, but if I had not spent more than eight decades developing a skin thick enough to cope with my home town's most bracing sea breezes, I might have been annoyed at being told my services were no longer required by the HAG after just two meetings.

Instead of being unduly worried by the experience, I reconciled myself to the possibility that HAG might succeed where others have failed when it comes to making Hunstanton's future even better than its past.

However, when I came across the notes taken at this October's HAG meeting I did worry that HAG talks about surmounting environmental hurdles, whereas a real environmentalist would talk about the need to comply with environmental legislation. Please read this extract then judge for yourselves.

"The commissioned feasibility study has been released. C Starkie (NCC) ran through the options – whether the Lido were small/medium or large. There is a strong strategic case with some levels of economic viability. To some extent it would future proof Hunstanton’s tourism industry. The raising of the capital would be the most challenging part. There are numerous environmental issues. CS's Department has at least 25 questions to ask of consultants responsible for the report. It’s not clear at this stage whether the environmental hurdles are surmountable or not."

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