Author Archives: Gay Webster

New move on pub plan for North Walsham

The future of a key building in the centre of North Walsham, which attracted expressions of interest from pub chain JD Wetherspoon and is owned by North Norfolk District Council, will be reviewed and all possible future options identified.

The former town council offices on New Road have been the subject of interest from the company since 2014, but no final contract has ever been signed, despite North Norfolk District Council’s best efforts.

The new cabinet at North Norfolk District Council, chosen at a full council meeting on May 15 following the local elections on May 2d, has decided to look again at what the building could be used for.

Virginia Gay, cabinet member for culture and wellbeing, and ward member for North Walsham Market Cross, said: “This is an important building at the entrance to our attractive market. It’s an absolutely crucial asset for North Norfolk.

“We want the best result for our town, which has great potential to become a significant destination, and its people. But we have an obligation to protect the interests of all North Norfolk’s council taxpayers and ensure that they receive best value for their money.

“The Wetherspoon question has hung over us for far too long and that hasn’t been fair on anyone.

“We are concerned for the future of this building and we will look at all possible options to make sure that it no longer stands empty and unused.

“North Walsham is an increasingly vibrant community, a great place to live, work and study, and this building needs to play an important part into the future.”

An options appraisal for the building will be brought to a future meeting of the cabinet.

North Walsham Town Sign

No Great British Prom at Blickling this summer

The Great British Prom will be taking a break this year with a view to returning to the Blickling Estate in 2020.

Lisa Ward of organisers Revival Productions said: “We have been running this type of concert for many years and experience shows us that sometimes it’s good to have a break, with a view to coming back with renewed vigour.

“The Great British weather worked against us last year, however, we know that this event has become a firm favourite in the Norfolk calendar and so we are planning to come back bigger and better in 2020!”

Jo Bosch, visitor experience nanager at Blickling said “Our summer concerts are something we look forward to all year and are a highlight of our annual programme. 

“Classic Ibiza promises to be even bigger and better this year and we really welcome the approach our partners at Revival Productions are taking in asking what their loyal supporters would like to see at the Great British Prom event at Blickling in 2020.”

Revival Productions are asking the Great British Prom audience what they’d like to see for 2020. The traditional proms event or perhaps something different? You can have your say by visiting the Great British Prom Facebook page and commenting there, or email info@revival-productions.co.uk with your thoughts.

Lisa added: “Tell us what you’d love to see! We have a year to plan something very special for our Norfolk audience.”

Classic Ibiza will be returning this year on Friday August 9. For full event details please visit www.classicibiza.co.uk or call 01283 841601.

 

Blickling Great British Prom 2017, Photo by Simon Finlay Photography.

Shoes boost mayor’s hospital charity

A mayor’s charity is taking a giant stride forward thanks to the donation of brand new shoes.
North Walsham mayor Barry Hester has already raised £2,850 for his civic charity, the town’s hospital League of Friends, which provides “extras” for patients, visitors and staff.
The latest boost to the funds comes from the gift of a dozens of pairs of shoes from local businesswoman Ann Bullimore, following the closure of her shop in the precinct.
A range of children’s women’s and men’s shoes will be sold for the charity on Sunday, February 24, at the White Swan pub between 11am and 2pm.
Barry said: “We are grateful for the donation – which will enable people to get bargain shoes and us to boost the Friends’ funds.”
He is hoping to top £3,000 through the shoe sale, annual civic dinner in April and a planned comedy night in June.
Picture: Richard Batson

Deputy mayor Mary Seward with some of the shoes which will be for sale.
PICTURE: RICHARD BATSON

Hellesdon school closed due to gas leak

Pupils had to leave Hellesdon High School this morning because of a gas leak on the premises.

The emergency closure was announced at 11am. A spokesman for Cadent Gas said: “We were called to the school this morning. Our engineer arrived on site and found that a gas safe registered engineer (an engineer legally permitted to carry out gas work) was on site and that the gas supply had been isolated and the school evacuated. Our local network was checked and no faults were found.”

 

 

 

Council statement on North Walsham Wetherspoon’s plan

Following recent questions and speculation about the status of the proposed plan for a JD Wetherspoon to be developed in North Walsham, North Norfolk District Council has issued a statement, which sets out the current position.

JD Wetherspoon approached the district council in 2014 requesting an unencumbered freehold sale on the New Road site, meaning all occupants would need to move out.

This would then allow the company to develop a pub/restaurant on the site, which the district council believed would strengthen the town centre through generating additional footfall and visitors.

These moves were successfully facilitated by the district council and, by September 2016, the building was empty of occupants and subsequently secured. A contract for JD Wetherspoon to pursue the purchase of the site was agreed in 2016.

A right of way/footpath challenge was raised in 2017 and resolved, meaning this challenge is no longer a legal impediment to the sale of the site pending development.

The council believes there are no legal impediments whatsoever to progressing with the sale of the site, or any other impediments for JD Wetherspoon to submit or discuss with planners detailed plans of their proposals – which has not been the case to date.

The council has done everything in its power to make the site available to JD Wetherspoon in good order and in a timely fashion and wants to ensure a certain, economically viable future for the site to the benefit of North Walsham.

The council is currently waiting for JD Wetherspoon to confirm its intentions for the property.

Eric Seward, deputy leader of North Norfolk District Council and ward member for North Walsham (North), said: “This is a run-down prime town centre site. It is more than four years since JD Wetherspoon first expressed an interest in coming to North Walsham. The district council has done its best to accommodate JD Wetherspoon. However, in the last few weeks there have been conflicting messages from the company over whether they wish to open new pubs in Norfolk.

“The company chairman says no new pubs will be opened in Norfolk, but other company representatives give an opposite message. This saga has to come to an end. Are JD Wetherspoon going to open a new pub in North Walsham or are they no longer interested?”

Norfolk drink/drug driving results shock

Nearly 190 people were arrested during the Christmas drink and drug driving campaign in Norfolk, with more people testing positive for drugs than alcohol.

Norfolk police have just released the results of the month-long campaign, launched on 1 December 2018, which targeted drivers getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol and drugs. A total of 189 drivers were arrested.

A break down of the results shows that 1,140 breath tests were carried out with 72 people providing positive readings, while 97 people failed drug tests out the 180 conducted.  In addition, nine people were arrested for failing to provide a specimen while 11 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

During the 2017 campaign, 947 tests were carried out with 81 drivers providing positive readings. Of the 172 drug tests conducted 56 drivers failed. In addition, six people were arrested for failing to provide a specimen while 12 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

This year again saw specific time slots at Norwich Magistrates’ Courts being reserved to deal with those caught drink or drug driving. This effectively meant that offenders could lose their licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed whilst facing additional fines.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, Head of the Roads Armed Policing Team (RAPT), said: “It’s disappointing to see that people are still prepared to take the risk and get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol, although it does appear to be a minority of motorists.

“A notable difference during this campaign is that there have been more drivers tested positive for drugs than alcohol. While this is a concern, drug driving is something we actively target all year round. It’s also a reflection of our increased ability to carry out roadside tests for cannabis and cocaine.

“Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol impairs your judgement, making your reactions slower and therefore increasing the chances of being involved in a collision.”

 

A roadside drug-test device.

 

 

Aylsham and Holt Santander branches to close

The Aylsham and Holt branches of Santander are to close in the summer as the bank reshapes its branch network.

The two branches will be among 140 nationally to shut in response to changes in how customers are choosing to carry out their banking.

Aylsham’s Red Lion Street branch will close on July 4, and the Holt one on June 13.

Santander’s future branch network will be made up of a combination of larger branches offering improved community facilities to support local businesses and customers, and smaller branches using the latest technology to offer customers more convenient access to banking services.

Santander has consulted its trade unions on the proposed changes and will seek to find alternative roles for the 1,270 colleagues affected wherever possible. Santander expects to be able to redeploy around a third of those affected and will be closely supporting colleagues over the coming weeks as the consultation process continues.

Santander will also support customers of closing branches to find other ways to bank that best suit their needs, including individual help to find alternative branches and access digital, telephone and Post Office banking services.

Around 100 Santander branches will be refurbished over the next two years through an investment of £55m. Work to improve the North Walsham branch has already been carried out and the new-look branch was re-opened in November.

Susan Allen, head of retail and business banking, said: “The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels. As a result, we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less visited branches, and those where we have other branches in close proximity.”

The Aylsham branch of Santander