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Hunstanton Soap Box Derby should not be pushed back to September, Stuart Dark tells West Norfolk Council

Hunstanton’s Soap Box Derby looks set to take place in September rather than April because its organisers “didn’t mind” it being pushed back.

At last Thursday’s full West Norfolk Council meeting, Cllr Stuart Dark, the Conservative group leader, pressed the authority on a number of issues.

He voiced his disapproval of the Independent-led administration’s corporate strategy, and also urged its leader Cllr Terry Parish to stop “getting in the way” of a devolution deal for Norfolk.

The Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton looks set to take place next September instead of April
The Soap Box Derby in Hunstanton looks set to take place next September instead of April

Additionally, Cllr Dark asked cabinet member Cllr Simon Ring why Hunstanton’s Soap Box Derby will take place next September instead of April – a decision he said contradicted previous discussions with the Hunstanton Advisory Group (HAG).

“Can you please tell me whether you were involved in that decision, who was consulted – and if you were, why did it happen on your watch?” Cllr Dark asked.

The borough council’s former leader had argued that hosting the popular event at the start of the holiday season could have provided the town with a boost.

This year’s Soap Box Derby took place in April, meaning that nearly 18 months will have passed between events if it does indeed return next September.

At Thursday’s meeting, Cllr Ring admitted to having missed some HAG meetings. However, he said that when he had put the options of April and September to members, they replied by saying “they didn’t mind”.

“They both agreed that April was going to be the start of the season whether the Soap Box Derby took place or not,” he said.

Cllr Ring also said there would be cost implications if the event is held in April, arguing that it is cheaper to purchase hay bales – used to “prevent life and limb being damaged” – at the end of the summer.

“We all agreed that September did achieve the lengthening of the season,” he added.

Cllr Dark also asked council leader Terry Parish why, despite being asked to at a previous meeting, he has not “managed to get down two floors” at the authority’s office to speak with staff members who run the Ukrainian refugee centre.

Cllr Parish responded by saying he had indeed met with them.

However, he added that when the service was set up in 2022, there was “a far greater need for it than there is now”.

He said that because there are no longer as many people going through the system, it is likely to be scaled back in the near future.

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