Turnstone, by John Maiden, Tuesday, August 9, 2016

heacham
heacham

Appearing in a pantomime’ was crossed off my bucket list in 2011 when I strode menacingly onto the stage as the wicked sheriff of Lynn at Hunstanton Town Hall.

Sadly, James Lowe who played Friar Tuck recently passed away and will be greatly missed by all his friends in the Civic Society and at the monthly Probus lunches. ‘Robin Hood – Norfolk Style’ was my only pantomime, but there have been several occasions in recent years when real life events might have been following the script of another ‘Norfolk Style’ pantomime.

Last Tuesday ‘Big Eye’ was not wrong when he referred to Devolution as a pantomime, because we are surrounded by examples of local public opinion being ignored by decision makers based in Lynn or Norwich. There is absolutely no reason to suppose a local authority covering two whole counties, or possibly three, would have taken any more notice of the many parish councils who had grounds for objecting to a factory farm on the outskirts of Sedgeford.

Whenever it has been my duty to observe the planning committee in Lynn deliberating on the applications before them, their lack of local knowledge has been blatantly obvious; therefore I have to ask why so many of them seem to act as if they are duty bound to ignore objections from those who really are in touch with local public opinion?

Before approving the application for the Sedgeford chicken factory members of the planning committee did go through the motions of a site visit, which was more than they did before granting planning permission for a new housing estate comprising 166 dwellings on land forming part of Searles Leisure Resort. Had committee members followed the example set by their MP and visited the proposed site, they might have arrived at the same conclusion as Sir Henry, who recommended a much smaller estate accessed directly via the Leisure Resort. This would have removed the need to close Hunstanton Road, Heacham, at its junction with the A149 for more than six months while a new roundabout is to be constructed along with an access road to the new housing estate.

The adverse impact of this development gets worse by the day. When local residents were first informed of the decision to close Hunstanton Road, they were told that temporary bus stops would be provided at the point where the A149 crosses a farm track known as Manor Road. This was clearly a non-starter for health and safety reasons - a fact confirmed in an email received last week from Norfolk County Council that read as follows: “After careful consideration our Passenger Transport team has advised against temporary bus stops on the A149. There are significant concerns regarding pedestrians crossing the A149 in this location as there is no footway to the south of the junction with Hunstanton Road and it is not possible to provide a temporary pedestrian refuge island due to existing site restrictions. Instead we will be providing a shuttle link between the bus stops at Heacham Manor and Tesco Express at peak times. At other times people will have to make this journey by other means.”

Just across the road from Tesco Express is the Heacham Declaration. This reminder of a time when Heacham was at the forefront of a campaign for a fair deal for farm workers, could trigger a campaign for a fair deal for Heacham residents adversely affected by the proposed closure of their road to Hunstanton, which otherwise could soon become the road to nowhere! Even the wicked Sheriff might have thought twice before doing such a dastardly deed...