Turnstone, by John Maiden, Tuesday, January 17, 2017


In last Tuesday’s Viewpoint pages Dick Melton argued the case for the memorial to the 31 victims of the 1953 Floods to remain in its current position.

From what I have seen on Facebook, it would appear there are plenty of locals out there who agree that the Flood memorial should not be moved. Unfortunately, based on past experience, the decision on its future is likely to be made by unaccountable groups, without first taking account of local public opinion.

This set me wondering if a solution could be found that would allow the memorial to stay where it has been for the last 60 years, but have a slightly different kind of Flood memorial in the circular flowerbed intended to have ‘the sea’ as a permanent theme. Since tiles are once again to be used in telling stories, why not commemorate the 31 who tragically lost their lives to the sea, by having their names, pictures, and press cuttings on a series of tiles.

This would clearly involve some research before the tiles could be designed and put in place, but the victims have surviving relatives who could surely be traced. My guess is that unrelated volunteers would want to help with the task of tracing relatives, and it would be a really good way of involving the community in restoring The Green and esplanade gardens to their former glory.

With the 67th SOS change of command still fresh in my mind, there is another good reason for keeping the Flood memorial in its present position. Anyone who was present on November 10th 2012 will remember more than 40 US airmen; the City of Norwich Pipe Band; and representatives of local organisations; all assembled along Reis Leming Way. It would be wrong to assume similar events will not take place in the future. Especially, since this year will mark the 65th anniversary of the activation of the 67th at RAF Sculthorpe.

It was my New Year resolution to make Turnstone more positive, but after seeing the pride with which a replica of the proposed Twinning road sign is displayed at the 67th HQ, I have to say how disappointed I am at the objections raised by Norfolk County Council when it came to putting up signs on the approaches to our town.

The borough council had agreed to pay for the signs if they were manufactured here in West Norfolk by the same company that did such a good job with the Reis Leming Way signs. Apparently, the county council has to use one supplier for all its very expensive signs, and there are strict rules on the number of words allowed on each sign. For some unexplained reason this only seems to apply to the A149 at Hunstanton.

It came as no surprise to read a report of the decision to approve a planning application for a Lidl store on the A149 at Heacham, but I was amused by this quote from the borough planning director, Geoff Hall. “You have before you the expert opinion of Norfolk County Council and I recommend you take that advice quite seriously.”

Sorry Mr Hall, the planning committee obviously took the advice seriously, but I found it hard to swallow. Fortunately, giving up drinking was not one of my New Year resolutions, and enjoying a pint in convivial company at the 67th SOS change of command strengthened my resolve to get the ‘Twinning’ signs in place by November 2017…