Turnstone, by John Maiden, November 29, 2016

Hunstanton town sig. Picture by Brian Holmes ANL-161125-094403001
Hunstanton town sig. Picture by Brian Holmes ANL-161125-094403001
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Jack and the Beanstalk opens at the Princess Theatre this Saturday, December 3, and runs until January 1.

The nice thing about pantomime is that there is no mistaking the baddies, even if they change their wicked ways and one of them ends up marrying the Dame in the final scene.

This is what happened to me six years ago, when I appeared in “Robin Hood – Norfolk Style” as the Wicked Sheriff of Lynn.

There was speculation at the time as to whether my character would be based on the borough council leader or the chief executive. According to his lines (written by me, of course) the sheriff’s evil intention was to seize the cash – extracted from the rich by Robin and earmarked for a new pier at Hunstanton – and spend it all on his marina in Lynn!

The sheriff’s cunning plan sprang to mind on November 18 when the front page headline in the Lynn News read: “Have your say on riverfront ideas.” No mention of a marina this time, but the proposed consultation did remind me of the apparent failure to take on board the opinions of local people, including Civic Society members, before a final decision is taken on how The Green and esplanade gardens at Hunstanton are to be restored with Lottery money. This is in sharp contrast with the words of Alistair Beales, the borough council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for regeneration, when, in June 2015, he said: “Officers worked hard with local people in Hunstanton to put together this bid and it’s very gratifying to see that the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund have recognised the vital importance of The Green, the Esplanade Gardens and Cliff Parade within Hunstanton. The main aims of the project will be to celebrate and respect the vision of the seaside park’s original founder – Henry Styleman le Strange – and to ensure the people have the training and skills to maintain the parks into the future, allowing them to evolve and yet leave a lasting legacy.”

I am by no means alone in pointing out to Cllr Beales that the current proposals fail to celebrate and respect the vision of the founder of Hunstanton.

I am not insinuating that Alistair is behaving like the Wicked Sheriff, but he should accept the need for further consultation; not only with members of Hunstanton & District Civic Society, but also with the Victorian Society.

Henry was a Victorian and a sign on Redgate Hill still reminds visitors that Hunstanton is a Victorian Seaside Town. The Civic Society slogan reads: “Looking to the future whilst preserving the best of the past”.

Unfortunately, the borough council’s track record is no better than that of Hunstanton Urban District Council, when it comes to preserving the ‘best’ of the past, but if the intention really is to celebrate and respect Henry le Strange’s vision, the borough council must do more to disassociate itself from the actions of the Wicked Sheriff. Oh yes it must!