This district council decision went ahead despite what town councillors claimed was a complete lack of consultation. Certainly it was the first I’d heard of the idea when it was the subject of heated debate in council three weeks back.
The most vocal objections came from mayor Adrian Vertigan who was adamant that the car park was an important asset to the town and the denial of access to coaches, buses and lorries would have a big adverse effect on local trade and tourism. His views, one way or another, were backed up by the majority of councillors present who referred to the history of this area and the multiple benefits the open parking regime had conferred. These would now be lost and the town would suffer as a consequence.
What was striking about all this from an outsider’s view was the presence of four Fakenham district councillors in the chamber that evening, only one of whom had anything to say on the matter. It was to be expected that John Rest would be the principal spokesperson as he is a cabinet member for assets at district level. But at no point did he express any acknowledgement of the town council’s views and as the temperature rose inside the room, his position on the matter was made perfectly clear. In a nutshell he said that the Highfield Road car park is under the district council’s jurisdiction and the condition of its surface is totally unsafe. It remains a parking area for cars, the only such amenity in the whole district which is free of charge. He disagreed that coaches, buses and lorries parked there were of any service to the town and in the circumstances said it was best to instigate a complete survey whilst still keeping the space open.
Presumably through their silence, the three other district councillors in attendance were in agreement. This clash is all rather unsatisfactory and serves to illustrate the distance which most local councillors feel continues to exist between their concerns as representatives of Fakenham and the priorities often advocated at district level. ‘We’re low in the pecking order’ was how our mayor chose to put it.
n Active Fakenham will again be enlivening the town on Easter Sunday but this year with a combination of cycling and running races.
The centre will be closed to traffic from 8am to enable various local groups to set up their stalls in the market square and the cyclists to warm up prior to their events. The first of these for boys and girls will set off at 12.15pm. The first race for seniors is at 3.30pm but sandwiched between the bike events will be a 5k running race and a 1k fun run. One circuit of the town via Bridge Street, Olivet Way, Whitehorse Street, Norwich Street and behind the cinema measures just 1k.
There will be plenty of leaflet publicity between now and March 27 and it should be noted that participants will need to register.
Go to www.activefakenham.org.uk or get in touch with organiser Richard Crook on 07887 803091 or email@example.com
n Readers of last week’s column may care to know that after sending a strong letter to our door fitters they responded with a phone call which included the message that they were unable to carry out the replacement work on the specified day – which was last Tuesday.
But they have given us another date to look forward to – and we really do look forward to it at this stage of the proceedings.