Archive for the ‘Chamber of Trade’ Category

Spinney development opens in Hunstanton

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Posted by Stella Gooch
Photos by Stella Gooch

section-of-wall-with-old-Hunstanton-scenes-depicted-with-Westgate-shops-in-background-thru-ra

Section of the new wall at The Spinney illustrating scenes of Hunstanton as it was in times gone by

Members of the Hunstanton Regeneration Project Team and Hunstanton Round Table, gathered at The Spinney in Hunstanton on 19 February 2014 to mark the completion of the refurbishment project.

Work on The Spinney began in September 2013 and the new scheme incorporates an event space and pedestrian priority area towards the High Street. The event space is partially surrounded by a curving feature wall, which includes photograph tiles and letter engraving. A feature balustrade is fitted to the top of the wall. New street furniture, trees and lighting have been installed to punctuate the landscaping, providing places to pause. Works to the High Street included resurfacing of carriage way and pedestrian crossing points, de-cluttering of street furniture and new feature planters.

Cllr Elizabeth Watson, Andrew Searle, Paul Searle are delighted to see The Spinney seating & public area openCllr Alistair Beales, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The focus of this project has been the involvement of the public and key stakeholders. The Hunstanton Regeneration Project Team has been pivotal in this work and I would like to express my thanks to them.

“The scheme is a big improvement, and now there is a clear pedestrian link into the High Street. We’ve also created a small performance area, where events can be held to encourage more people into the town centre.”

The tiled walled, a most attractive feature within the scheme, has been developed using photos submitted by members of the public and beautifully illustrates the halcyon days of the Victoria seaside upon which Hunstanton was built.

Cllr Elizabeth Watson, Borough Councillor and Chair of the Hunstanton Regeneration Project Team, said: “We received an array of photographs, from which we selected 25 to feature in the wall. These tiles tell the story of Hunstanton and in particular give an indication of what the town was like during its Victorian heyday.”

“We are grateful to everyone involved in creating this wall, from those providing the photos to those selecting the ones to use. We are now producing an explanatory leaflet to help visitors to the area to understand more about this beautiful resort.”

Also featured in the wall are two carved dedications: One to Richard Searle MBE for his services to the Round Table and one to Henry and Hamon Le Strange – visionaries, in recognition of establishing Hunstanton as a classic Victorian seaside resort. The wording is picked out in the wall using stone.

Gary Waddison, Chairman, Hunstanton and District Round Table, said: “Richard credited many of his achievements to what he learned in his early years spent in Round Table.

“We are delighted to be able to pay tribute to Richard’s outstanding service to the local community through his years spent in Hunstanton and District Round Table.

“We are especially pleased to have Richard remembered here as this is the kind of project I’m sure he would have been delighted to see happen.”

Cllr Elizabeth Watson, Kevin Waddison, Andrew Searle, Edward Napolitano, Gary Waddison, Paul Searle, +1, Jo Searle

Cllr Elizabeth Watson, Kevin Waddison, Andrew Searle, Edward Napolitano, Gary Waddison, Paul Searle, +1, Jo Searle

A celebratory formal opening of the Spinney is being planned for Easter to mark the start of the season. A range of activities will be organised with local groups to demonstrate how the new space can be used. More details of this will be published shortly.

In 2008, when the Hunstanton town centre and southern seafront masterplan was developed, The Spinney was identified as an area that could, with enhancements, become a more inviting and accessible place that could be shaped to help direct people towards the town centre. This was highlighted again by Hunstanton’s Town Team, established as part of the town’s efforts to attract funding from the Mary Portas Scheme.

Funding for this scheme (£347,000) has come from the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk and Norfolk County Council. The work to enhance the area around the Spinney has been funded by Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, and was carried out on their behalf by Norfolk County Council’s strategic partnership with May Gurney (now part of Kier Group) for construction and Mott MacDonald for design work. Norfolk County Council undertook maintenance and street scene enhancement works along High Street at the same time to reduce overall cost and minimise disruption.

The final plan was created by Wynne Williams Associates Ltd, landscape architects based on an initial brief developed by the borough council in conjunction with the Hunstanton Town Team and Regeneration Project Team

Spinney development opens in Hunstanton

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Posted by Stella Gooch
Photos by Stella Gooch

Members of the Hunstanton Regeneration Project Team and Hunstanton Round Table, gathered at The Spinney in Hunstanton on 19 February 2014 to mark the completion of the refurbishment project.

Work on The Spinney began in September 2013 and the new scheme incorporates an event space and pedestrian priority area towards the High Street. The event space is partially surrounded by a curving feature wall, which includes photograph tiles and letter engraving. A feature balustrade is fitted to the top of the wall. New street furniture, trees and lighting have been installed to punctuate the landscaping, providing places to pause. Works to the High Street included resurfacing of carriage way and pedestrian crossing points, de-cluttering of street furniture and new feature planters.

Cllr Alistair Beales, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “The focus of this project has been the involvement of the public and key stakeholders. The Hunstanton Regeneration Project Team has been pivotal in this work and I would like to express my thanks to them.

“The scheme is a big improvement, and now there is a clear pedestrian link into the High Street. We’ve also created a small performance area, where events can be held to encourage more people into the town centre.”

The tiled walled, a most attractive feature within the scheme, has been developed using photos submitted by members of the public and beautifully illustrates the halcyon days of the Victoria seaside upon which Hunstanton was built.

Cllr Elizabeth Watson, Borough Councillor and Chair of the Hunstanton Regeneration Project Team, said: “We received an array of photographs, from which we selected 25 to feature in the wall. These tiles tell the story of Hunstanton and in particular give an indication of what the town was like during its Victorian heyday.”

“We are grateful to everyone involved in creating this wall, from those providing the photos to those selecting the ones to use. We are now producing an explanatory leaflet to help visitors to the area to understand more about this beautiful resort.”

Also featured in the wall are two carved dedications: One to Richard Searle MBE for his services to the Round Table and one to Henry and Hamon Le Strange – visionaries, in recognition of establishing Hunstanton as a classic Victorian seaside resort.   The wording is picked out in the wall using stone.

Gary Waddison, Chairman, Hunstanton and District Round Table, said: “Richard credited many of his achievements to what he learned in his early years spent in Round Table.

“We are delighted to be able to pay tribute to Richard’s outstanding service to the local community through his years spent in Hunstanton and District Round Table.

“We are especially pleased to have Richard remembered here as this is the kind of project I’m sure he would have been delighted to see happen.”

A celebratory formal opening of the Spinney is being planned for Easter to mark the start of the season.  A range of activities will be organised with local groups to demonstrate how the new space can be used.  More details of this will be published shortly.

In 2008, when the Hunstanton town centre and southern seafront masterplan was developed, The Spinney was identified as an area that could, with enhancements, become a more inviting and accessible place that could be shaped to help direct people towards the town centre. This was highlighted again by Hunstanton’s Town Team, established as part of the town’s efforts to attract funding from the Mary Portas Scheme.

Funding for this scheme (£347,000) has come from the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk and Norfolk County Council. The work to enhance the area around the Spinney has been funded by Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, and was carried out on their behalf by Norfolk County Council’s strategic partnership with May Gurney (now part of Kier Group) for construction and Mott MacDonald for design work. Norfolk County Council undertook maintenance and street scene enhancement works along High Street at the same time to reduce overall cost and minimise disruption.

The final plan was created by Wynne Williams Associates Ltd, landscape architects based on an initial brief developed by the borough council in conjunction with the Hunstanton Town Team and Regeneration Project Team

Environment Agency Reports on Aftermath of Dec 2013 Tidal Surge

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Damage along Snettisham coastline during tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 - photo by Lilian RichardsonThe Environment Agency have advised that, following the tidal surge of 5 December 2013, they have been monitoring the forecast predicted tides and corresponding weather forecasts between 31 January and 11 February 2014. As a result,  contingency plans have been agreed to ensure that their official warnings are effective and that damaged defences are bolstered, notably additional sand bags have been installed at Trenowaths Place in Kings’ Lynn.

The Environment Agency stress that it is important to remember that the emergency repairs to the sea defences between Snettisham and Heacham, completed immediately after the event, did not reinstate the sea defences to their previous standard of protection and as a result, it may be necessary to issue the Precautionary Evacuation Notice for slightly lower high tides than before.

At the time of issuing this update, the Environment Agency are confident that the risk to Kings’ Lynn and the North West Norfolk coast of tidal flooding is low. However, the situation continues to be monitored and Environment Agency staff are on standby ready to take action if needed.

Further repairs are needed to sea defences between Kings’ Lynn and Hunstanton and along the tidal River Great Ouse and funding has been secured for the majority of the necessary work.  Dates for work to commence are currently being finalised.

Click to read the full report – Tidal Surge Recovery Briefing – Environment Agency 30 Jan 2014

If you have any questions, please contact Jen Woodward on 01480 483015 or jen.woodward@environment-agency.gov.uk

You can follow the Environment Agency on Twitter @EnvAgencyAnglia or their local representatives @DarrenTrumperEA and @JamesHookerEA

#HunstantonHour is for all businesses in the district

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Social media is constantly evolving and the introduction of practical tools such as the # (now commonly referred to as a Hashtag in the social media realm) helps you to get more of what you want when you use it. Attach # to the front of a word, phrase, or sequence of numbers and characters, and you create an effective keyword or phrase which is searchable within social media. Originating within Twitter, the Hashtag as a practical tool is now applicable in more social media platforms including Facebook and Google+. Hashtags are used to categorise tweet themes to make it easier to follow a conversation thread which may be of interest to you.

Within the Twitter dashboard any phrase or word with # in front of it becomes a live link to the ‘#Discover’ function at Twitter.com and you can easily see which tweets and keywords are trending at a glance.

Rapid and high volume usage of specific hashtags create trending (which is the same as the current hot topic on everyone’s lips at that moment). Current breaking news items can develop their own hashtags as the event occurs (ie #Apollotheatre could apply for the roof cave in at the Apollo Theatre but a more specific tag can also be created like #theatreroofcavein). When using the geolocation facility, Twitter’s ‘Discover’ feature will bring you tweets with hashtags targetted at relevant news in and around your own location, in real time! This makes it a powerful communication tool and it is exacty how a comment can go global within hours so be careful when you tweet etc!

A key hashtag now in common usage is the on-line hour (ie #HunstantonHour, #KingsLynnHour, #NorfolkHour). There are many different regions which have their own on line hour. If you want to up your game and on-line marketing profile this is where you need to be on a regular basis.#HunstantonHour

I recently started #HunstantonHour and now I need more businesses in the Hunstanton and West Norfolk villages to join in to help promote our little corner of Norfolk. Now what is that I hear you say! In simple terms, an on-line hour is an opportunity to market and network and it runs on Twitter. It is also an opportunity to promote a current theme or topic to a wider audience. Most recently, the topic was jobs and working in the Hunstanton area.

We can, and should, join in #KingsLynnHouse and #NorfolkHour but wouldn’t it be wonderful to make our corner of Norfolk trend on the powerful Twitter platform or at least have a good go at it? It is a powerful marketing tool for our local businesses and it will be all the better if we all participate. Currently there is one #HunstantonHour per week. If this takes off and we can build a team of local businesses who want to really make it fly we could have two or three at different times and help each other to grow our message to Norfolk, the UK and globally. This is critical for our tourism based businesses.

All you need to take part is an interest in the Hunstanton area and the surrounding villages or West Norfolk generally. The more active we are the more successful the #HunstantonHour tag becomes and the more effective it is at spreading the word that the area has a lot to offer. Naturally we all have to learn new skills to keep up with this ever-changing world of the internet but the best way to start is to just dive in and watch what others are doing. If you need more personal assistance then Stella Gooch Executive Business Support is local and can help you and your business in many different ways. Check out Stella’s blog articles for more social media updates but in the meantime, here are the local online hours which may be of interest to you:

MONDAY – #NorfolkHour 8.30pm – 9.30pm

TUESDAY – #KingsLynn Hour 8pm – 9pm

WEDNESDAY – #HunstantonHour 8pm – 9pm
WEDNESDAY – #NorfolkHour 8.30pm – 9.30pm

FRIDAY – #NorfolkHour 8.30pm – 9.30pm

Coasthopper comment by a former town planner whose heart is in West Norfolk

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Coasthopper by Norfolk GreenToday, 12 December 2013, is the closing date for all comments from the public to be submitted to Norfolk County Council for consideration under the current Coasthopper consultation.

Here are the comments submitted by David Marshall, Chartered Town Planner’s comments sent to Norfolk County Council on 11 December 2013 re the current Coasthopper consultation

“I am responding to Norfolk County Council’s consultation on the future of the Coasthopper bus service as a regular visitor and as someone with a professional interest in transport. I am a Chartered Town Planner by professional training but have tended to specialise in transport and have worked in local authorities, big firm consultancy, part time academia and most recently running my own consultancy.

I spend around 3 to 4 weeks a year in North Norfolk, usually staying in Heacham, and the ability to leave the car at my accommodation and explore the area by bus is a significant factor in my repeated visits. Traveling by bus enables me to see and enjoy the beautiful coastline much more than if I were driving and allows me the freedom to walk sections of the coastal path and appreciate the natural beauty of the coast in a way that I couldn’t by car.

When I used to visit Norfolk in the early 1980s there were no bus services at all along the coast road and Wells only had one return trip per day to Fakenham and Norwich. I’ve followed the progress of the development of the Coasthopper from the initial service funded from the old Norfolk Coastal Project. This was an hourly service operated with some quite old Mercedes high floor minibuses. It really has been a success story in terms of its social, economic and environmental benefits and I’ve used it as a case study of good practice in my lectures at Newcastle University and in various conference presentations from time to time.

The successes of the service include the following:

  • Reducing car traffic on the A149;
  • Contributing to tourism along the North Norfolk coast;
  • Contributing to sustainable tourism, particularly enabling people to walk the coastal path;
  • Contributing to the vitality and viability of local businesses along the coast;
  • Contributing to communities along the coast;
  • Contributing to the equalities agenda through providing transport for older people and accessible transport for people with disabilities.

Not all of the above are easily quantifiable or can be valued in monetary terms making a full cost/benefit analysis of the service difficult to undertake. The patronage figures mask the human stories like the elderly lady from Wells who travels to Sheringham and back ‘for some company’ or the family from Stiffkey who use it for their shopping trips. There are probably as many such stories as there are people using the service.

My understanding is that ridership has risen year on year since 2000. By 2005 it had reached 100,000 per year rising to 275,000 two years later in 2007 and is now around 500,000. This represents phenomenal growth especially considering bus use is falling nationally. Certain journeys, such as the first one out of Hunstanton after 09:30, are regularly ‘standing room only’ or even leave people behind.

I suspect the patronage on the Coasthopper has reached the point where the summer service could be operated commercially now and Norfolk Green confirm this in their own pamphlets on the proposed cuts. The paper provided by NCC for the recent consultation meetings confirms that they are looking to reduce the subsidy to virtually zero over the next two years. From the point of view of public funding, getting as much of the service operated as a free standing commercial venture is the ideal. The big question is getting as much value as possible out of every public £ put into it.

The figures provided by NCC are interesting as they highlight the fact that a lot of non-Norfolk residents use the service. This need not be a bad thing as those visitors are spending money with local businesses and contributing to the local economy. Unfortunately a lot of them are concessionary permit holders and the reimbursement from central government doesn’t quite cover the costs. Perhaps one way to overcome this would be to introduce a nominal boarding charge for non-Norfolk concessionary permit holders. Assuming 30% of passengers are in this category and 500,000 pax pa this would raise around £150k pa.

The other area where the service is loss making is the winter service when loadings are significantly lower but higher proportions of passengers are Norfolk residents. The demographics of North Norfolk mean that there are a higher proportion of older residents and with age there is a much higher incidence of ill health and disability. The Coasthopper provides a lifeline to older people in these circumstances.

Given this, other sources of funding could be sought. One area worthy of consideration is through developer contributions from planning gain agreements. There are a number of renewable energy and offshore wind farm proposals affecting the Norfolk coast and there may be some scope for this to support the Coasthopper or any replacement service. As an example, Statoil, the developer of the Sheringham Shoal windfarm are providing £100k pa to support community projects in the area. Some of that money is ring fenced to community projects which may preclude Norfolk Green from receiving it but could be subject to a partnership with a third sector partner.

The use of new or existing community transport projects or social enterprises should be considered in proposals for ‘backfilling’ or any part replacement service. There is an established community transport operator in the area, King’s Lynn based West Norfolk Community Transport which already undertakes contract work.

From what I know of Norfolk Green, the Coasthopper is a core part of their business and they have invested heavily not only in vehicles but in their staff and developing the customer base. They don’t strike me as a ‘fly by night’ operator who would walk away if the subsidy were withdrawn completely. From the data provided by Norfolk County Council, I would expect that a significant part of the Coasthopper service could be provided commercially, particularly in the summer season. The precise detail of that is probably commercially confidential but I would expect that it forms the basis of negotiations between the operator and the County Council going forward.

In conclusion, I feel that the Coasthopper is a success story that has contributed significantly to the economy, communities and environment of North Norfolk over the past 10 years or so. I trust that all concerned can work together to ensure its future.”

Help is being offered for flood clean up

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Posted by Borough Council of West Norfolk & Kings Lynn
Photo by Stella Gooch

Kings Lynn Council logoRecovery from last week’s floods is well under way, with businesses and householders cleaning up their premises and homes.

The borough council, along with other agencies, is busy assessing the damage, to the sea front in Hunstanton, the waterfront in King’s Lynn and affected areas along the West Norfolk coastline to Burnham Overy Staithe. An assessment of the cliffs in Hunstanton is also being made due to recent rockfalls as a result of the high tides. The council is warning people to keep away from the cliff area for the time being.

Environmental Health Officers at the council have been visiting food premises in King’s Lynn and around the coast providing advice and assistance with the clean-up to help restaurants open again as quickly as possible, given that this is a busy time of year for many of them.

Council workers help clear up damaged steps outside Oasis the day after tidal surge struck Hunstanton - photo by Stella Gooch

Council workers help clear up damaged steps outside Oasis the day after tidal surge struck Hunstanton – photo by Stella Gooch

Cllr Nick Daubney, Leader of the Borough Council, said: “Some businesses in West Norfolk have been badly affected by flood waters. I am pleased to be able to announce that we are providing support for them in the form of a Business Flood Relief Fund. This will mean that eligible businesses will be able to get a free skip to help them clear their premises of debris, so that they can get back to business as soon as possible.”

For residents whose properties have been flooded, they can request the Bulky Waste Collection Service for free to enable them to dispose of large items that have been damaged. Alternatively, they can use the Household Waste Recycling Centres, to dispose of their flood related waste. Normal restrictions are being lifted for those affected by the floods.

The council also intends to contact second home owners where there has been local flooding to advise them to check on their properties.

Cllr Brian Long, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “We don’t yet know how much this is going to cost us, or how much it will cost local businesses and residents.  Businesses need to be trading at this time of year and families want to be able to plan for Christmas, rather than worrying about how they are going to sort out their homes.  All we can do is try to help people get back to normal as quickly as they can.  We would of course remind people not to throw things away until they have been advised to do so by their insurers.”

Hunstanton Sea Life Centre, fairground & pier flooded

Monday, December 9th, 2013
Lifeguard station moved by tidal surge on Hunstanton seafront - photo by Neal Sanderson

Lifeguard station moved by tidal surge on Hunstanton seafront – photo by Neal Sanderson

The fierce tidal surge that hit the Norfolk coastline on 5 December 2013 was predicted to be the most serious stormy seas in 60 years.  On schedule, the powerful waves breached sea defences in Hunstanton and delivered chaos and damage to “Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary” and the small businesses under the pier (“Castaway Fish & Chips” and “Surface”) all of which are closed until further notice.  (Sadly I later heard that looters thought such a night was a great opportunity to help themselves from the afflicted Surf shop under the pier which had been battered by the storm.) Other parts of Hunstanton seafront were also affected including the fairground and Oasis Leisure Resort.  The Fun Castle and cafe were closed pending clean up and repair operations.  Searles Leisure Resort had limited damage but had  a foot of water in the plaza area.  The situation would have been much worse here but for the works done to raise the power boat ramp and the addition of rock armour in the vicinity,  See previous article about sea defences.

The impact of the fierce waves on Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary left the entire building surrounded by up to 3 feet of sea water as it continued on its way round the Norfolk coastline.  Inside water levels were more than a foot deep and the building’s electricity was gone. Many expressed concern for the welfare of both staff and animals, and later, their admiration for the way the Sea Life team successfully managed to ensure the safe evacuation of almost all the fish and animals.

Social media was manic with people anxious to hear their property, friends and loved ones were all ok throughout the night.  Thanks to modern technology reassurances could be given quickly.

Once things were more settled Sea Life staff retreated to a nearby house and established a plan to ensure the safety of the animals within the Sanctuary.  Emergency services were quickly on the scene and the water pumps were put to work.  Everyone worked through the night and by morning the water had been drained.

By early Friday morning, the huge evacuation programme was launched to relocate the thousands of fish.  The lack of power meant vital life support systems were unusable so staff had to move quickly to protect vulnerable marine life from risks such as contamination.   Specially adapted transport vehicles containing holding tanks and marine experts from The Sea Life Headquarters in Dorset visited Hunstanton to provide emergency back-up and transport fish to quarantine facilities in Weymouth, Dorset.   Relocation arrangements also had to be made for the otters and penguins at least until power is restored and repairs carried out.

By Saturday, thanks to unrelenting dedication by the staff of Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and volunteers, sharks, a turtle, tropical fish and six penguins were successfully evacuated from the Sea Life Sanctuary and now settled in their new homes.  The Sea Life team also provided assisted in the rescue of seal pups from other flooded areas in Norfolk.

Sanctuary General Manager, Nigel Croasdale, could not praise the efforts of the fire service and his own staff enough in their dedication to ensuring the safety of all the animals throughout proceedings.

Hunstanton Golf club in Old Hunstanton also felt the effects of the tidal surge as the water caused damage to parts of the golf course.  Bob Carrick of Hunstanton Golf Club said: “The sea roared down into Holme and now the 10th hole is under water and needs pumping out.”  Mr Carrick advised that expected that it could take a week for the water to be cleared and restore the 10th hole back into use.  He went on to say that: “as of today there were 15 holes playable on the golf course so golfers were still welcome to play.”.  If you wish to enquire about updates on the golf course then please call Mr Carrick on 01485 532811.

The road to recovery for the Sea Life Sanctuary and the other Hunstanton businesses affected will take many months.  However, this process will be made all the smoother with the support and help from those around them which has already been forthcoming.

Please check websites and social media to keep up to date on the re-opening of affected businesses.  Click for updates re Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary.

 

Sea Life Centre half under water in tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 - photo by Neal Sanderson

Sea Life Centre half under water in tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 – photo by Neal Sanderson

Damaged Surf shop under pier  the day after flooding by tidal surge - photo by Stella

Damaged Surf shop under pier the day after flooding by tidal surge – photo by Stella

Castaway fish & chip shop the day after tidal surge - photo by Stella Gooch

Castaway fish & chip shop the day after tidal surge – photo by Stella Gooch

Where Waterside Bar meets the sea the day after tidal surge - photo by Stella Gooch

Where Waterside Bar meets the sea the day after tidal surge – photo by Stella Gooch

 

 

High tidal surge floods parts of Hunstanton seafront & damages Snettisham beach

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Photos are thanks to Neal Sanderson, Jemma Greef, Lilian Richardson and William Searle

Evacuation orders were issued to homes right around the Norfolk coast – from Kings Lynn round to Great Yarmouth.  In Hunstanton, the Community Centre was toasty warm with welcoming hot drinks ready for those seeking refuge for the duration.   Homes along Seagate Road were evacuated and by 5pm refugees were enjoying the comforts of the Community Centre.

Hunstanton fairground flooded in tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 - photo by Neal Sanderson

Hunstanton fairground flooded in tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 – photo by Neal Sanderson

Under Hunstanton Pier 90mins before high tide - photo by Jemma Greef

Under Hunstanton Pier 90mins before high tide – photo by Jemma Greef

Severe weather warnings were all out yet some ignored the warnings and even took unnecessary risks, possibly thinking they had heard such warnings many times before.  At the scene was William Searle,  Director of Searles Leisure Resort & Searles Seatours (also Chairman of Hunstanton’s Chamber of Trade), expressing his grave concerns: “This is the biggest tidal surge since 1953.  Spectators watching from the Waterside bar were putting themselves at risk and they should stay well back.”  This message was conveyed on social media to reinforce the official warnings but doubtless was ignored by many.  Thankfully, I am not aware of any injury or loss of life at least along the West Norfolk coast.

High Water was 7.45pm on 5 December 2013 with wave overtopping between 7pm – 9.15pm.  Before long it was apparent that the sea defences in parts of the Hunstanton seafront had been breached, particularly at the Sea Life Sanctuary and underneath the pier.   Sea defences were breached in other locations including Snettisham where the impact of the waves was felt by the Snettisham Sailing Club, and some caravans leaving the landscape ravaged (see pictures).  Police reported that tides in Norfolk were higher on some parts of the coast than the truly devastating 1953 floods.

William Searle said: “Searles had received about a foot of water in the plaza area of the resort but damage had been limited.”  He went on to say: “Thanks to the power boat ramp being raised and rock armour in the vicinity, Searles was afforded considerable protection from the force of the waves.  More money is needed from the Environment Agency to ensure our sea defences are maintained because this threat is always with us on the Norfolk coast.  We must not become complacent and risk the disaster seen in the 1953 floods.”

Sadly, Mr Searle commented that looters took the flooding at high tide as an opportunity to raid the Surf shop under Hunstanton pier.  Despite this, community spirit has been in abundance and many have come forward in the aftermath with offers of practical support to those in need.  If you have a story about the after effects of this wave to raise awareness of how our small businesses are coping under this kind of pressure then please let us know at stella@hunstanton-on-line.co.uk.

Ramp along Hunstanton seafront - photo by William Searle

Ramp along Hunstanton seafront – photo by William Searle

In an interview with David Whiteley on BBC Radio Norfolk on 7 December 2013, Mr Searle said: “Hunstanton got away with the biggest tide I have ever seen.  I cannot thank the Environment  Agency enough for installing the ramp at the power boat club as this did absorb a lot of the force there but a great deal more work needs to be done.”  He also expressed appreciation for the rock armour installed along the seafront which gave considerable protection to Searles and explained the value of increasing rock armour to the Northern wall of Hunstanton seafront further.  Mr Searle explained the desirability of using more rock armour along the Norfolk coast owing to its permeable properties which allowed it to take the energy out of tidal surges in stormy weather and said that sea defences on Hunstanton seafront had been neglected in recent years.  He strongly urged local MPs to ensure that Government released funds to allow the additional necessary works to be carried out such as raising the promenade and adding more rock armour to the Northern side.   Hunstanton-On-Line would like to reiterate that  plea!

 

Prooposed lido ramp for Hunstanton seafront - photo by William Searle

Proposed lido ramp for Hunstanton seafront – photo by William Searle

North Norfolk MP, Norman Lamb, likened part of the flood-hit Norfolk coast to a “war zone”.  Press reports indicate that some 1,400 homes and businesses around Britain were flooded. The Environment Agency said damage had been minimised by improved flood defences, protecting at least 800,000 homes.  Let’s hope the funds are found to ensure that sea defence improvements continue to be applied along our coast to ensure we all stay safe and prepared for such forces of nature.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Explanation of types of sea defence options available:

Concrete sea walls – reduce wave energy but are expensive to build and maintain.
Rock armour – is the placement of large hard rock boulders in front of sea walls (sometimes used as groynes).
Groynes – are walls built at right angles to the coast and a familiar sight off Hunstanton and Heacham beaches. They are traditionally made of wooden railway sleepers but they can be made of rock armour. Helps prevent beach and shingle migration.
Gabions – are wire netted blocks of medium sized pieces of hard rock.
Revetments – are slatted and angled low wooden walls parallel to the beach. They act to absorb wave energy and protect soft cliffs.

Damage along Snettisham coastline during tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 - photo by Lilian Richardson

Tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 - Damage to Snettisham beach - photo by Lilian Richardson

Tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 – Damage to Snettisham beach – photo by Lilian Richardson

Tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 - Damage to Snettisham beach - photo by Lilian Richardson

Tidal surge 5 Dec 2013 – Damage to Snettisham beach – photo by Lilian Richardson

Christmas Cracker lights go with a bang

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Photos by The Golden Lion, Stella &, Robbie Gooch & Neal Sanderson (Hunstanton Backpackers Hostel)

Martin Ballantyne meets Zoe at The Golden Lion - photo courtesy of The Golden LionThe 2013 Hunstanton Christmas Cracker had a fantastic range of activities and things to see and do amongst it. Along with stalls from community groups such as the Beavers/Cub/Scouts families were able to see an amazing Sci-Fi Exhibition with replica DALEK at The Golden Lion Hotel. Face-painting was available for those younger siblings whilst the Sci-Fi fans could admire an amazing collection of Dr Who memorabilia and costumes and talk to the Norwich Time Travellers. The Norwich Time Travellers tell me that their membership information is a one-off payment of ONLY £5.00 pounds for a single member OR ONLY £7.50 for a family membership so it is very low cost to get involved with a dedicated Sci-Fi Club. Also in attendance for the day was actor, Martin Ballantyne who has featured in the Harry Potter and Batman films.

Hunstanton Town Hall was thriving all day long with a festive Christmas Market and some live entertainment in the form of a comic poetry recital by David Woods, favourite tunes on the keyboards with Stuart Burr and belly dancing by the Daughters of the East (Anglia) with audience participation. There was also heel work to music display with some lively dogs who strutted their stuff to the latest sounds. For me, however, J.G.D.A.T.A. produced the stars in the on-stage entertainment with Shooting Stars youngsters aged from 4-11 performing songs and scenes from their Christmas panto ‘The Scrooge Sisters’. It really was a magical Christmas moment when these little stars took to the stage.

Hunstanton High Street was home to children’s rides and an outdoor Christmas market which delighted lots of youngsters. The Princess Theatre had the all important visit from Santa Claus all afternoon with a children’s poetry workshop with local and published poet David Wood. The Rock Choir entertained at Princess Theatre and I was sorry I was unable to get down there. Live music was evident throughout the afternoon by Hunstanton Concert Band in the Northgate area and a selection festive tunes were sung by Hunstanton Community Choir.

Hand massage in the bank - photo by Stella GoochBarclays bank as you have never seen it before - photo by Stella Gooch

Some of the businesses really got their sleeves rolled up and I was surprised to see even Barclays had joined in the fun. Visitors to the bank enjoyed festive hospitality and great atmosphere to boot. Once you had enjoyed the hand massages on offer courtesy of the ladies from Mulberry Retreat (the new beauty spa based at Heacham Manor) there was wine – of course! In addition, there was tea and coffee to accompany the mince pies and other light refreshements. Past & Present also got in on the act and plied their visitors with wine.

The Tug of War between the Fireman and Lifeboats took place outside The Golden Lion. Said local Cllr, Carol Bower: “It was fought very keenly with both sides fighting valiantly and was won convincingly by the firemen. What was truly fabulous was the backdrop of one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen in Hunstanton.”

The unique Parade of festively decorated Honda Bikes and Minis led the intro to the countdown to switching on the lights by Elizabeth Watson (The Borough Mayor), Cllr Elaine Clutton (Hunstanton Mayor), John Giller (panto dame) & Daniele Wilson (2013 Carnival Queen). Once the switch was thrown the thronging crowd was treated to sparkles and confetti raining down on them which really was a lovely touch to the festive atmosphere which had built up as the day wore on.

So thanks to the hard work of all the volunteers involved, Hunstanton is well and truly open for Christmas shopping – go #ShopHunstanton! #LiveShopLocal when you can.

 

 

Time Ttravellers with their Dr Who memorabilia display - photo by Stella Gooch Part of Dr Who model display by Time Travellers - photo by Stella Gooch Daughters of the East (Anglia) - photo by Stella Gooch Street scene Hunstanton High St - photo by Stella Gooch

Hunstanton Firemen & RNLI teams get ready for tug of war outside The Golden Lion - photo by Neal Sanderson

Hunstanton Firemen & RNLI teams get ready for tug of war outside The Golden Lion – photo by Neal Sanderson

Sunset on Hunstanton High Street - photo by Neal Sanderson

Sunset over The Wash from The Golden Lion - photo by Neal Sanderson

Coasthopper Concerns

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Coasthopper by Norfolk GreenHunstanton Community Centre was crammed with all seats occupied by the time the Coasthopper Consultation meeting began at 4pm on Wednesday, 27 November but even more people squeezed in as the meeting got underway.  Such is the concern and support for the much loved Coasthopper service which comprises 14 buses per day in the summer and 8 buses in the winter.

Tracy Jessop (supported by Martin Stringfellow) from Norfolk County Council opened the discussion and informed those assembled that £189m savings MUST be made by Norfolk County Council during 2014 – 2017 owing to cuts made at central Government level.  This state of affairs was an unavoidable reality and this large cut in funding to Norfolk had to be absorbed by evaluating how NCC spends its money across the board in order to get best value for money for taxpayers as a whole.  She went on to say that there was a methodology used to decide where funding should be applied to Norfolk bus services which includes access to jobs, education, health and car ownership levels.  To put things in context it cost £300 to £400 PER DAY to run just one bus and that the average bus journey along the Hunstanton to Cromer coastline was 14 miles (considerably longer than most average bus journeys).

Ms Jessop went on to say that NCC had strongly invested in supporting the Coasthopper service since it began in the 1990s and that the service has expanded rapidly.  She advised that something like 570,000 passengers currently used the Coasthopper service.  Ms Jessop stressed NCC valued the service highly and went on to say that it was now apparent from the current discussions with the incumbent operator, Norfolk Green, the Coasthopper was self-supporting in the summer (for the purposes of the consultation this was March through October) and winter operations would require financial subsidy from NCC.

It seems that the huge savings that NCC MUST make across all public services means that the current Coasthopper subsidy is under review and will have to reduce on a sliding scale from £225K per year to £75K per year with reductions commencing in 2014/15.

It is because the NCC are keen to protect rural bus services that the reduction has been structured in a step by step manner. Ms Jessop reiterated many times to the concerned residents that this reducing subsidy did not mean the Coasthopper was in jeopardy. Funding for concessionary fares, where Norfolk has a shortfall of £4.5m causes a complication but is not a factor in seeking to reduce the subsidy for Coasthopper.  She clarified the situation by saying that NCC has confirmed that Coasthopper summer services were profitable and sustainable by private enterprise and thus the summer was safe and that based on the information currently known to NCC they believed the winter service would run. Having said that, the current level of winter Coasthopper services would have to be reviewed and decisions made on the basis of needs and value for the taxpayer’s pound.

Some interesting questions raised during the meeting included the following:

  • The question of transparency about the money raised by Norfolk Green in the course of their operations was raised and whether the auditing of bus ticket machines was possible.  Ms Jessop confirmed that this was possible and happened in practice.  However, the information gleaned from this practice was commercially sensitive and could not be made public.  It was also suggested that tourists could pay a higher fare and Ms Jessop agreed that there was no reason why this could not be considered although there would have to be a very clear “tourist offer”, to differentiate it from the standard local bus service, or a premium fare would be an infringement of law.
  • There were concerns about the potential for coastal jobs being under threat if the winter service were affected by the subsidy reduction.  Ms Jessop dealt with this question by saying that bus timings would be closely examined to take this into account.  In the event of a winter timetable review, further consultation in the form of on-bus surveys and dialogue at local level would be take place.
  • Hunstanton Town Clerk, Lisa Powell, asked Ms Jessop whether it was possible for NCC to approach other bus operators to explore whether they could run the service at a profit.  Ms Jessop said a contractual arrangement was in place and hoped a negotiation might bring a positive conclusion. However, it was important to be able to test the market if NCC assessed they were not getting a good return for the level of public money invested.
  • One lady suggested NCC lobbied Norfolk Green to cut other bus services instead of the Coasthopper.  Ms Jessop responded that: “Networks of services were sometimes complex with a mixture of commercial and subsidised contracts.  Operators should not be allowed to effectively set levels of subsidy and dictate public investment, similarly Councils should not have undue control over a private company’s operation.  Any operator could give notice on contracts with the council.  In the case of the Coasthopper, the incumbent operator has not indicated that they are unhappy with the level of reward being offered, although negotiations are still on-going.”
  • A member of the public was concerned about isolated villages who depend solely on the Coasthopper as their sole means of public transport.  It was proposed that everyone should pay a minimum of £1 per journey – whether they held a concessionary bus pass or not – to ensure the Coasthopper service was guaranteed. Ms Jessop explained to everyone present that, unfortunately, the laws of the UK did not allow any charges to be made to those holding concessionary bus passes which meant that no-one could legally make such a charge. Ms Jessop said that the same ruling did not apply in the case of park and ride services because passengers were paying to park all day long which was a different service and concessionary passes were therefore exempt.   NCC was considering the creation of a “Friends of the Coasthopper” type scheme.
  • On the subject of concessionary bus passes, Ms Jessop confirmed that every time such a bus pass was shown the Coasthopper operator received some payment from NCC in each case to ensure they were “no better or worse off”, to comply with the law.  Ms Jessop assured us all that the park and ride scheme in Norwich was on target to be self-funding and does not take funding away from the Coasthopper (or other bus services).
  • Transport infrastructure in the context of further housing development was raised as an issue and Ms Jessop explained that this situation was dealt with on a case by case basis in conjunction with the developers involved and very often such costs were borne by the developers as part of the planning process.  Effectively this meant that developers were required to invest in the local infrastructure to support the local community in projects of this nature.
  • A representative of Brancaster Parish Council stressed to Ms Jessop that the service must not be cut until there had been a resolution of the issue and pointed out that many residents on the Brancaster and Thornham stretch of the coast paid considerably higher council tax than in many other parts of Norfolk and thus merited being heard on this.  Ms Jessop said views from this meeting would be fed back into the consultation and encouraged people to respond individually too.

Concluding the meeting, Ms Jessop said that overall figures needed to be presented to NCC to assess whether NCC can afford the current level of winter service or consider what it might look like, subject to further discussion with the operator(s).

Members of the public are able to voice their concerns/objections to NCC until 12 December 2013 and in the meantime NCC and Coasthopper operators, Norfolk Green, would meet to establish what aspects of the winter service were sustainable. The NCC would then report the public viewpoint to their elected members at the Cabinet meeting on 27 January 2014.  The elected members of that body would consider these views when agreeing the budget recommendations to put before Full Council.  These minutes will be made available to the public following that meeting.

The Full Council is due to meet and agree the final budget on 17 February 2014 and this will be published on the NCC website.”