Wensum, By Jim Harding, August 12, 2016


The victorious Sports Centre team. Photo shows manager Colin Brzeczek behind Tanni Grey-Thompson with his right arm raised and four members of the centre’s staff to his immediate left.

So it’s a pleasure to heartily congratulate Fakenham Sports and Fitness Centre on its Leisure Centre of the Year[Streamline] Award which was received with much acclaim at a glittering ceremony held in Telford, Shropshire at the end of June.

This is the third time our sports centre has reached the finals of these UK Active Flame awards which recognise the cream of the health and fitness industry across a range of different categories. Ours was for the smaller centres which narrowed down some 200 entries to a final group of eight. Five members of staff, including general manager Colin Brzeczek, attended the ceremony which was addressed by some outstanding sports personalities including former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick and Olympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. When I asked Colin what the reaction was like when Fakenham’s name was announced as winners, he said: “We all went quite mad.” And why not. His more sober assessment later on was to comment that the highlight of winning was not only the satisfaction it gave all his staff but also the pride which members and regular users have had in the centre’s success. The judging for these awards involves a rigorous assessment throughout the year. Amongst other pointers there’s a customer survey, mystery visits and phone calls and impromptu inspections. The centre, which is owned by North Norfolk District Council and run by Places for People Leisure, has now been functioning for close on 11 years. As a member since opening day, I certainly felt a shared sense of pride in this terrific achievement. These days I’m far more inclined to attend the instructor-led classes in the studio than use the main gymnasium and its array of fitness machinery. Regardless of which, everyone has been invariably cheerful, polite and efficient. What more can you ask?

The parking area outside our council offices and community centre has been unregulated for years. Now the district council has brought it into line with the town’s other car parks by imposing charges and putting in the machinery to make this possible. There will be a three-car drop-off zone for visitors to the community centre and permit parking outside Fakenham Connect with three spaces provided for community group First Focus which now occupies the former scout hut. No charges will apply from 6pm to the following 8am. On the face of it this all seems to be quite reasonable. But it will not have pleased regular visitors to these locations. Plenty of them objected to the proposal when it was first mooted and I can see why First Focus is particularly upset. Much of its membership has vulnerability issues and might well be deterred from attending sessions with parking charges thrown in as well.

It’s now a month since the last town council meeting heard vociferous complaints about the state of the town’s grass verges and roundabouts. Unless there’s been significant action in the few days before you read this, nothing much has been done in the meantime to smarten the place up. Particular mention was made of the Jack Richards memorial bench area adjacent to the traffic lights. Whilst this is a district council responsibility I understood that the town council would ‘take it on’ in the short term as a mark of respect to Mr Richards. No cutting has taken place and stinging nettles are still growing through the seat itself. Surely it’s not that much of a chore?