Author Archives: Gay Webster

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

Plea for help with Hellesdon’s heritage

Fascinating nuggets of information about local life and industries a century ago are being unearthed by researchers with the Hellesdon Community History group – and they are appealing for readers’ help.

History group members are compiling a booklet about Hellesdon during and in the aftermath of the First World War and want as much information, and as many photographs, as possible.

Group spokesman Danny Buck said late in the First World War the Army had set up the Hellesdon Depot School of Ploughing, at Hellesdon Lodge, where returning soldiers could be trained in agricultural work, especially ploughing, as well as harrowing and general horse care.

After completing their training the men received a bonus of 10s (50p) and were sent out to work on Norfolk farms. The depot was also used as a hospital for sick horses working in the area of food production. Frustratingly, there are no known photographs of the depot.

And at the former Mann Egerton factory, on Reepham Road – where Anglian Home Improvements is today – aircraft were made to support the war effort, including some of the company’s own design, such as the Mann Eggerton Type B patrol bomber. History group member Keith Evans is investigating the possibility of a memorial to the factory.

“We want to know about every aspect of Hellesdon’s World War One heritage and the changes it made – for example women getting the vote,” said Danny. “We would also like to hear from local community groups about their history – for instance the Parish Room by St Mary’s Church was built in the early 1920s as a response to the First World War.”

The group hopes to produce the booklet in time for a second Hellesdon History Live day this summer, following the success of the inaugural event last July. Members have pencilled in Saturday June 29 for the event as it is close to the centenary, on June 28, of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles which ended the First World War.

“We would love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved with the event – anything from helping with the organising, to presenting something on their community group,” Danny added.

Anyone with information for the booklet is asked to get in touch with the group by February 28 2019, either via its @HellesdonHistory Facebook page, or by dropping into its meetings which are held in Hellesdon Library on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month from 2pm-4pm.

Danny Buck.

Big plans for Sprowston’s community gardeners

A library garden and a Norfolk orchard are among plans those involved in Sprowston’s community greenhouses project are making for 2019.

Project co-ordinator Mike Ellard is due to meet staff at Sprowston Library at 4pm on January 7 to discuss plans for a sensory garden there and would welcome others to go along to offer support and ideas.

“This could be financially, or help in getting this under way,” said Mike. “Starting from a blank canvas is always quite daunting.”

Mike and other volunteers have started planting a local-varieties orchard outside the project’s base, the greenhouses behind Sprowston Community Hub, on Aslake Close.

“We are looking at planting well-known Norfolk varieties,” said Mike. “It will take a few years to get established. Perhaps we will start a trend at Christmas of eating biffing pie – a Victorian Norfolk tradition – instead of mince pies” (Biffing is a variety of Norfolk apple).

The busy volunteers spent a day selling prepared bulbs in Christmas tubs and pots at Tesco, on Blue Boar Lane, and almost sold out, raising £200.49.

Mike was delighted when a 25-strong team from Norwich-based GoodGym turned up and made short work of clearing one of the glasshouses. GoodGym members combine running with helping communities.

“They cleared all the old tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, and tomatillos which have been quickly replaced with flowers and some other fruit and vegetables. We have rhubarb for forcing, spring cabbage and strawberries have also been planted, as well as some dwarf kiwi fruit bushes,” Mike added.

  • For more information, or to get involved with the project, ring Mike on: 0795 2071 947.
  • Clare Lincoln, of Sprowston Youth Engagement Project, with a Christmas wreath made during a community garden project session.
  • Goodgym members in one of the greenhouses.

 

 

The project’s stall at Tesco’s.

Drayton among targets in burglary spree

Police are urging residents to be vigilant following a series of burglaries in the Broadland and north Norwich areas.

Ten incidents have been reported in Acle, Drayton, Norwich, Salhouse and Horstead since December 18 and in the majority of cases suspect(s) have forced entry by smashing windows or doors.

Local policing commander Chief Inspector Wes Hornigold said officers were investigating whether the incidents were linked and that some of the properties targeted had been holiday homes.

He said: “We would urge anyone living in these areas to be vigilant and take the necessary security measures such as ensuring doors and windows are locked. Residents can also help us by notifying police about any suspicious activity or behaviour they may witness. You know your communities better than anyone else so will be best placed to notice if something or someone is out of place.”

A watch and jewellery were stolen from a home in Old Market Close, Acle, on December 18 while overnight on Friday December 21 suspect(s) targeted a property in Orchard Bank, Drayton, stealing van keys before taking the vehicle.

Jewellery and watches were stolen from a property in Norwich Road, Horstead, between December 14 and 29.

An untidy search was carried out at a property in Blenheim Crescent, Norwich, targeted on Christmas Day, although it appears nothing was stolen.

Cash was stolen from a property in Thunder Lane, Thorpe St Andrew, between 1.30pm on Boxing Day and 9.50pm on  December 27.

Between  December 21 and 27 a property in Barn Piece Close,  Salhouse, was targeted by burglars who stole jewellery and watches while jewellery and a mobile phone were taken from a house in Woodside Road, Norwich, on December 30.

Attempted burglaries have also been reported in Ling Way, Coltishall, and The Street,  Brundall, between December 23 and 28.

Officers are urging homeowners to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police.

Anyone with information should contact Norfolk Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously 0800 555 111.

Chance to take part in school’s mentoring scheme

Business people and employers are being urged to volunteer to take part in a hugely successful mentoring scheme aimed at helping high school students gain the confidence and employability skills they will need in later life.

North Walsham High School will launch the sixth year of its mentoring scheme in February. Mentors take on between five and 10 Year 9 student mentees, and meet regularly with them over a two-and-a-half year period, to offer support and advice on qualifications, skills needed to progress towards their ambitions, and to help motivate and inspire them.

Students who have taken part in the scheme have spoken about how the experience helped build their confidence and self-esteem, as well as guiding them in their choices for the future.  Mentors have also reported that taking part has been a rewarding experience, helping their own personal development, as well as ensuring that tomorrow’s workforce has the skills needed to be useful employees.

“Our mentoring programme is designed to provide role models for our students,” said Kate Lawn, who is co-ordinating the initiative. “We want them to be inspired, motivated, confident, and full of self-belief. We need to develop their ‘soft skills’ to improve their long-term employment prospects. Employers have highlighted that employability skills are lacking in young people, so our aim is to build on these to enable them to progress in the world of work.”

Employers and business people who are interested in taking part are being invited to a business breakfast at the school to find out more.  The event takes place on January 22, 7am-8.30am.  Those interested in attending can reserve a place by contacting Kate Monday to Wednesday on 01692 402581 or by email on lawnk@nwhs.uk. The 2019 scheme will be launched at a “speed networking” event at the school on February 13.  Mentors receive training, and are required to complete a DBS check.

One current mentor at NWHS is Gail Adams, owner of Holiday let company, Pack Holidays.  She says that being a mentor gives her a lot of inspiration for the future: “It is well worth your time spending a little while with young, developing and curious minds.  The students I mentor are a fabulous set of young adults who are mature, kind, intelligent and engaging.”

Don’t miss local firms’ Christmas video

It’s back by popular demand! Drayton estate agent’s William’s Way very special video take on the Twelve Days of Christmas has been released.

The fun frolic features William’s Way and 11 other businesses, mostly from Drayton, Taverham and Hellesdon, each filmed for a different day of Christmas, sounding their own firm’s particular trumpet in festive fashion.

“It’s a lot of fun, with out-takes on the end!” said Wil Barber, owner of William’s Way which launched the first video last year.

“We got just shy of 1,300 views last year and the community really enjoyed it,” said Wil. “Unlike many businesses which get very busy at this time of year, in our industry we’re quieter at Christmas so we were happy to facilitate this.

“Everyone was so excited and appreciative and couldn’t believe there was no charge for it! It’s just a fun way of helping give local businesses a bit of an extra boost.”

The only non-local business taking part this year is the online punditry site Talk Norwich City. “Everyone round here’s a Norwich City fan so it is kind of local!” said Wil.

Also among the featured businesses is HexCam drone photography and video, based in Drayton, which turned one of its drones into a Santa’s little helper for the video. The firm works with clients including the BBC and English Heritage.

To watch the 12 Days of Christmas Jingle, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xln0ycPFW74