Wensum, by Jim Harding, February 14, 2017

To claim a state pension, you must have built up enough National Insurance contributions.
To claim a state pension, you must have built up enough National Insurance contributions.
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Mostly, the site has been controlled by our district council as its only free parking facility.

For a couple of years, this control passed to the town council. When it was handed back and the district council put in place a couple of height barriers, which stopped lorries and coaches from entering, further censure occurred.

While cars could continue to park for free, there was a very real suspicion that the site might be taken away from the town and sold off.

Nothing happened last year, though the rumours persisted. Now we learn that a sale for housing might be imminent.

It was good to see plenty of residents attending the special council meeting held at short notice to discuss the plans.

While objections were raised, it was rather obvious from the outset that the district council had been working behind the scenes to make the most of this asset.

To paraphrase our deputy mayor, who chaired the meeting, it owned the car park and there was little that Fakenham could do to stop a sale proceeding.

Cuts to government grants, it was explained, had to be offset somehow if a reduction in services or an increase in council tax was to be avoided.

It could be that developers are already queuing up to take on the development of the site, which, it has been suggested, could be for the building of 44 flats for people aged 55 or over.

Whatever takes place is bound to improve the appearance of this track of land at the northern end of the town’s shopping territory.

Variously described as unsightly, scruffy and an eyesore, it has suffered from neglect for far too long.

The cost of upgrading it to acceptable pay and display parking standards is reckoned to be prohibitive.

As a ramshackle car park, Highfield Road’s time would appear to be up. Let’s move on and hope that a development to be proud of will take shape in the coming years.

There was general cheer when The Crown reopened last summer after being shut for so long.

This proud old coaching inn at the heart of the town had presented a forlorn image to passers-by with its glory days long gone.

Sadly, the reincarnation was short-lived and the pub closed just after Christmas with no-one quite knowing the reasons why.

The good news now is that its doors will be opened again some time this month thanks to the determination of Alie Hannam, who had been assistant to the previous manager, James Antcliff-Stone.

Can she succeed? Well, she certainly has plenty of business experience and has already welcomed the support of numerous townsfolk offering to help refurbish the place.

It’s very much to be hoped that The Crown can once again re-establish itself as an important part of Fakenham’s townscape.

Empty premises, especially ones as attractive as this on the market place, send out all the wrong sort of messages to both residents and visitors.

There were supposed to be three race meetings here in January, but only the New Year’s Day one survived the weather.

A succession of frosts hereabouts put paid to any thoughts of horses jumping over hurdles or fences.

The current cold snap might well have its say again but, with luck, the track could be back on song this Friday, with a seven-race card scheduled.

The first race is due off at 1.40pm.