Turnstone, by John Maiden, Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Once upon a time the borough council used to ask local residents for their opinion on matters affecting the future of their neighbourhood.
It was not uncommon for the borough to ignore the public response, even when there was overwhelming opposition to controversial initiatives.
Nonetheless, for a while it provided a faint hope that the borough might actually take account of public opinion before proceeding with its proposals.
For example, in October 2008, readers of the Hunstanton Newsletter were informed of ‘Community Street Audits’. These are a means of looking at public space and improving its quality for those people who use it on foot.
The belief was that a similar approach would be helpful in obtaining the views of residents when it came to the quality of Hunstanton promenade.
Jackie Squires from the borough council’s community development team would be leading a series of promenade audits on two dates in October and two in November.
Each walk would take about an hour. Participants would work in groups to identify good and bad points, including such things as graffiti, poor signage, litter and mess, as well as litter bins, benches, lighting and safety.
I remember taking part in one such audit, but I have no idea to what extent my observations and those of other participants were considered when formulating plans for the promenade.
Events since then would indicate that the results of the promenade audit made very little difference, especially when it came to improving its quality for those people who use this stretch of pubic open space on foot, in wheelchairs, or in buggies.
In fact, the borough council seems to have lost sight of the fact that the whole point of a promenade (noun) is to allow people to promenade (verb).
The trend appears to be towards more kiosks taking up more space.
There is even talk of putting the skateboard ramp back at the foot of The Green, where it suffered considerable storm damage in 2013.
Various alternative sites are available and the one that seems most popular with local residents is adjacent to the community centre.
This area is designated a ‘QEII Field’ by ‘Fields in Trust’ - formally the ‘National Playing Fields Association’ - so skateboarding would appear to be an appropriate activity in this location.
The Community Centre was originally provided by the county council as a ‘Youth and Community Centre’, making the site even more appropriate for this youthful pastime.
However, if the borough council still thinks the promenade would be more suitable, perhaps residents will be asked to participate in another Community Promenade Audit the autumn.
We must surely be due for one as it is nine years since the last one!
Civic Society committee member John Bridger knows how strongly I feel about improving the quality of our promenade, which explains why he sent me this picture of the spacious promenade at Llandudno...