Turnstone, June 30, 2015: Fun for some, but no laughing matter for others

Something fishy going on here? A summer season for Nigel 'Boy' Syer and Olly Day at the Princess Theatre in Hunstanton.
Something fishy going on here? A summer season for Nigel 'Boy' Syer and Olly Day at the Princess Theatre in Hunstanton.
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As reported in last Friday’s Lynn News, Nigel ‘boy’ Syer and Olly Day are really looking forward to opening their summer show at the Princess theatre this Thursday afternoon, because they had so much fun last year.

“We are back with another slice of Norfolk ‘Squit’ to make everyone laugh,”said Olly, and then added: “Brian Hallard and his team have worked so hard recently in making the bar and foyer welcoming to holiday makers and locals alike, now it’s probably the best place on the east coast to sit and have a drink while watching the sun set over the beach.”

Well that’s the good news, but judging from recent letters to the Lynn News, not everyone is laughing at what is happening, or in some cases not happening, to our town, which was once hailed as the Queen of the Norfolk Coast. Following an anonymous call to the News Editor, I did a piece of detective work, equal to that of my fictional hero, Hercule Poirot, which brought me face to face with the caller, who turned out to be the owner of a catering establishment in Le Strange Terrace.

He pointed out that while his place was open, but not doing much trade, numerous similar premises in the immediate vicinity were closed, when in previous years they would have been open in late June and doing business.

He accepted the fact that the weather had been poor, but refused to accept this as the only reason for the obvious lack of custom, based on his experience of running a successful business in the town for the past ten years. Needless to say, I was interested to hear what he believed to be the root cause of the decline in visitor numbers. Leaving aside general factors, such as the possibility of continuing austerity measures by the government and the penalties imposed on parents for taking the children on holiday in term time, it became apparent that west Norfolk council has not done him any favours by selling off a large section of the Southend Road car park to Marstons and then spending the proceeds on ‘vanity’ projects such as the ‘enhancement of the Westgate Spinney.

We were then joined by two other members of the catering profession who voiced similar concerns, and the consensus of opinion seemed to be that one had to look no further than the Heritage Centre on The Green, to realise that Hunstanton is still paying the penalty for doing away with its four post popular attractions: a proper swimming pool; a boating lake; a pier and, most of all, the station adjacent to Le Strange Terrace connecting Hunstanton to the national rail network.

Unfortunately, this message appears to be falling on deaf ears as for as west Norfolk council is concerned, because instead of bidding for lottery cash, which could have restored the whole of The Green to its former glory, it looks as if the intention now is to enhance the esplanade gardens instead of ‘grasping the nettle’ with a plan to restore at least one of Hunstanton’s lost assets.

Our town may no longer be the ‘Queen’ of the Norfolk Coast but perhaps we should count ourselves lucky that the Capitol cinema survived the dissolution of our major attractions and now, as the ‘Princess’ theatre, continues to provide entertainment and laughter such as that served up by Olly Day and Nigel ‘boy’ Syer...