Latest on possible Aylsham car-park charges

A probe into the use of free council car parks in Aylsham and Reepham is on the cards.

Members of Broadland District Council’s Economic Success Panel want to find out whether workers parking all day in the two market towns’ car parks are deterring shoppers who can’t find empty slots.

The panel is recommending to Broadland’s cabinet that there should be a “comprehensive review in consultation with town and parish councils” throughout the district to provide information for a car-parking management plan.

If space blocking was shown to be a problem, parking charges could be introduced, as they already are in neighbouring North Norfolk, and South Norfolk, Broadland’s sister local authority area.

The recommendation followed an hour-long discussion on Monday night (August 19) when the panel considered a detailed report, prepared by David Disney, operational economic development manager with South Norfolk Council.

It made particular reference to Aylsham’s Buttsland and Burgh Road, and Reepham’s Station Road car parks and concluded, among other findings, that introducing charges – with the first hour’s parking free – would solve space-blocking, increase footfall and place the costs of running and maintaining car parks on users, rather than on all taxpayers.

Mr Disney said footfall was the lifeblood of market towns and the national evidence was that if a driver couldn’t find a space in one car park they would try two others. If unsuccessful, they would leave and never return to that town.

Increased footfall had followed “quite distinctly” in South Norfolk towns, including Wymondham and Diss, after the introduction of a free hour’s parking and then charges.

But panel member councillor Peter Bulman said: “What I don’t see is any evidence of market research in Reepham and Aylsham – we’re only being given national information, or about South Norfolk Council. I would want to be persuaded with some hard evidence that this is not a solution looking for a problem.” 

Councillor David Harrison, who represents Aylsham, warned that the town’s Buttsland car park was leased by Broadland from its owner, the National Trust, which would “want its share” if the council began charging for its use.

He asked whether Broadland would consider handing over the running of its Aylsham car parks to Aylsham Town Council.

“It’s all about localism – this is what we’re supposed to be doing. Why not leave it to be decided as a local issue by the town?” he said.

Councillor Stuart Beadle, who represents Reepham, said Broadland had a number of car parks throughout its area (there are 12) but only Aylsham and Reepham had been singled out in the report for the possible imposition of charges. 

He said: “Reepham and Aylsham would be subsidising off-street parking throughout the district and that’s not fair.”

In a statement before the panel meeting, Aylsham Business and Enterprise Forum (ABEF) said it was concerned that whatever decision was eventually made should not adversely impact its members, either in terms of income or providing community events.

The statement went on: “Parking in Aylsham seems to be a growing problem. The main car parks, in Burgh Road, the Market Place and the Buttsland, are increasingly found to be full for much of the day, while on-road parking in some areas is creating problems for residents.  If parking fees are to be introduced, ABEF hopes that these factors will be taken into consideration.

“We hope that local traders, voluntary organisations and residents will have the opportunity to make their views known before any proposal is adopted.”

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David Harrison.
Photo credit ©Simon Finlay Photography.

Fun day planned at north Norfolk charity

On Sunday September 1 Thornage Hall Independent Living, near Holt, will be open to the general public.

From 11.30am to 4.00pm the annual Garden Fete is an opportunity for those who live and work at Thornage Hall to share their experience of this unique community in the heart of North Norfolk.

Angie Steggles, Chief Executive of Thornage Hall Independent Living, said: “2019 is our 30th year and I am delighted to be opening the doors to the public, sharing the work that we do today, our plans for the future and the values that drive us with the wider community.

“The Garden Fete is not only an opportunity to learn more about the community at Thornage Hall, it is a day out for the whole family with a range of activities, stalls and produce to eat or take home.”

Here is some of what’s happening on the day:
• Cooking Demonstration from Ashley Williamson of Benedicts Restaurant, Norwich
• Music from the Midnight Specials and the Sam Smith Singers
• Norfolk Wild Encounters, Birds of Prey
• Cakes & Refreshments, bread, barbecue with their own Red Poll beef burgers, bio-dynamic vegetable stall, family beef packs, hand made arts and crafts
• Stall holders selling local produce, books, preserves, ceramics, ice creams
• Traditional fete games and face painting
• Farm and garden walk, demonstrating their system of Bio-dynamic land management
• Raffle with prizes donated by local businesses – All of the funds raised through the fete will go towards their £1m fundraising appeal for Orchard Lodge. Four fully accessible accommodation units that will help to ensure that they are able to continue to provide an inclusive service for those with a learning difficulty into older life.

Thornage Hall is located 5 miles south east of Holt off the B1110. Entrance is just £2.50 for adults and free for children under the age of 16.

Thornage Hall

Nursery closure heartbreak

Heartbroken Dawn Cordner is closing her Aylsham’s children’s nursery on Friday (August 16) because she says government-funded “free” places have made it unviable

Dawnie’s Little Stars, based in the Drill Hall for almost seven years, is the only business of its kind in Aylsham and parents will now have to look outside the town for similar care, according to Dawn, 42.

The closure will mean the loss of seven jobs, including Dawn’s.

She has been in the childcare business for 17 years, previously working for the former Aylsham Playgroup. When its committee disbanded, Dawn saved the service by launching her Little Stars nursery.

Dawn said she had taken the “very, very hard” decision to close because of the increasing gulf between the amount of money the business received from funded places and her ever-increasing running costs.

Parents of three and four year olds are entitled to “free” nursery places funded by the government and paid to nurseries, via the local authority, at the rate of £3.65 per hour,

Some two-year-old are also entitled to free, funded places,  with nurseries receiving £5.20 per hour to care for them.

But Dawn said the true cost of providing care was much higher and her business had been forced to plunder its meagre profits to make up the deficit and stay afloat.

She charged non-funded places at £7.50 per hour for three and four year olds, and £8 an hour for babies, reflecting the true cost of providing quality child care.

Now, with 75pc of the 30 children on roll qualifying for funded places, Dawn said she simply couldn’t afford to carry on.

“It’s exhausting trying to run a business when all the overheads are going up but the funding stays the same. I’m taking less and less and it just can’t go on,” she explained.

“The team works very hard and very long hours for the  minimum wage (£8.21 per hour). We love the children and the nursery’s reputation is second-to-none – but it doesn’t pay the bills. Dog walkers and cleaners earn more than us. We’re providing a champagne service for lemonade money.”

Parents had been sad but very understanding when they learned of the nursery’s closure.

“They wonder what the government is thinking of, allowing this situation to happen,” said Dawn.

“I am so sorry and so sad that I’ve had to do this. This has been my life and my passion but the worry has badly affected my health over the past two years and I had to take this heartbreaking decision. I’ve no idea what I will do next.”

Pictured: Dawn Cordner (centre) with Shining Stars room leader June Crook (left) and deputy manager Becky Rayner.

Soapbox Derby fun

There were thrills, some spills and a lot of fun at the Cromer Soapbox Derby this year.

With 30 karts and 35 drivers from as far afield as the Midlands, the event has been hailed a great success by carnival chairman Tony Shipp.

“We had the biggest number of karts, it was great weather – the heavy rain held off until after the event – and it was a great afternoon,” he said.

The route took in the A149 and Beach Road and there were some fast times recorded.

The winner of the adult class was Oliver Richardson, who completed the course in 26 seconds. The winner of the 16-18-year-old class, Christoper Daykin, clocked a winning time of 27 seconds, and in the 10-15-year-old class, Alfie Childs and Emily Flowerdew tied for the prize with a time of 35 seconds.

Cringleford woman charged with burglary and receiving stolen goods

Police have charged a man and a woman in relation to a series of burglaries across the area.

Christopher O’Neill, 29, from Kensington Road, Middlesbrough has been charged with ten counts of burglary.

The charges relate to incidents which happened on:

Wednesday 31 July at Colney Lane, Cringleford

Between Monday 5 August and Thursday 8 August at Mill Road, Blofield

Wednesday 7 August at Buxton Road, Spixworth

Wednesday 7 August at Mansel Drive, Norwich

Wednesday 7 August and Thursday 8 August at Lodge Lane, Norwich

Thursday 8 August at Coltishall Lane, Norwich

Thursday 8 August at Freethorpe, Norwich

Thursday 8 August at Bay Field, East Tuddenham

Thursday 8 August at Dereham Road, Honingham

Sheree Townshend, 30, from Brambling Lane, Cringleford, has also been charged on one count of burglary in Tuckers Road, Loughborough, on 9 August and one count of receiving stolen goods in relation to an incident in Boston on the same date.

Both O’Neil and Townshend, appeared at Norwich Magistrates Court this morning and were remanded in custody and are due to appear at Norwich Crown Court on Monday 9 September 2019

Aylsham’s Janet meets her lifesavers

Aylsham resident Janet Green is about to celebrate her 70th birthday, thanks to the lifesaving teamwork of four shoppers.

Janet, who went into cardiac arrest and collapsed outside the Break charity shop on April 1, would not be alive today if it wasn’t for a very lucky set of coincidences.

Fellow Market Place shoppers that afternoon included an off-duty community first responder, an off-duty hospital doctor, and two Aylsham High School members of staff who had recently been trained in first aid.

And a few yards away from the drama, hanging outside the town hall, was a lifesaving defibrillator machine. Janet’s chances of survival would have only been about  1:100 if no one had intervened before the summoned ambulance arrived.

But she was fit, smiling and able to climb the steps to the Aylsham High School stage at an emotional presentation ceremony today (July 24), the last day of term, when she thanked all those who had saved her life.

And she was looking forward to celebrating her milestone birthday on July 26 with husband Raymond, her two sons, and two grandchildren.

The school ceremony saw Andrew Barlow, community response manager with the East of England Ambulance Service, present certificates of appreciation to school science technicians Lauren Goodyear and Ben Ecclestone.

The pair had been buying hearts from the butcher’s for students to dissect when they saw Janet fall on her face and rushed to her aid.

“We’d been trained in first aid at the school about three weeks earlier,” said Ben, who recognised the signs of cardiac arrest.

They were joined by Dr Victoria Willimott, visiting Aylsham from her home in Bury, Lancashire, and Aylsham community first responder Andrew Hartshorne, who was off duty and had just had his hair cut.

The team, led by Andrew, worked together giving Janet CPR and applying the defibrillator. After a fourth shock with the machine, she began to breathe again.

Andrew Barlow said Andrew Hartshorne had done a “sterling job” in taking charge. He told the presentation that the “chain of survival” working to help Janet had been very strong, adding: “Without it, Mrs Green would not be here.”

Janet, who also badly injured her head, above her right eye, in the fall was fitted with a pacemaker and internal defibrillator at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

“I remember heading for Break with some things for them and the next thing I remember is three days later when I woke up in the N&N,” she said.
“Whatever you do or say is never enough to thank all those people, and the NHS. They were all fantastic.”

Now she is looking forward to the birth of her first great-grandchild, due in August. She added: “I’m so lucky. I wake up every morning and say ‘thank you’.”

Janet Green with, from left, Ben Ecclestone, Lauren Goodyear and Andrew Hartshorne.

North Walsham applies for £1 million to revive town centre

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), working in close partnership with North Walsham Town Council, Regenerate North Walsham CIC and other community partners, have recently put in a bid for North Walsham to the Heritage Action Zone funding scheme.

The grant fund, administered by Historic England, would allow North Walsham to restore the town centre’s historic character with a particular focus on Market Place and its adjoining roads. The plans have been created through a strong local partnership and will complement the planned improvements to St Nicholas Court precinct, which was recently awarded £100,000 through the NNDC Market Town Initiative. It is hoped that Historic England funding would support town centre regeneration by improving accessibility, highlighting the town’s heritage and encouraging cultural activities.

A decision on the bid is anticipated in the autumn. If successful, a programme design phase would follow, entailing further community engagement and consultation preceding the formal start of the project in April 2021.

Cllr Virginia Gay, member for North Walsham Market cross and NNDC Portfolio Holder for Culture & Wellbeing, said: “Our hope is that North Walsham will benefit both economically and culturally, welcoming local residents, the surrounding communities and visitors alike. It was very inspiring to see so many people come together in support of our application.”

REVIEW – Matilda the Musical, Norwich Theatre Royal

Little people packed a mighty punch in the RSC’s effervescent production of the musical Matilda, which has just opened at Norwich Theatre Royal.

It wasn’t just Matilda (Sophie Woolhouse) who had superpowers – she can make things move with her eyes. Her classmates at the scary Miss Trunchbull’s school were also magical with their jaw-droppingly fizzing and feisty dance routines, executed with tight precision.

The quirky story, based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book, is loosely about a highly-intelligent, studious little girl born to dreadful, uncaring parents (dad’s a dodgy second-hand car salesman and mum’s obsessed with Latin-American dancing), her determination to stand up for what’s right, and her search for love.

Borrowing a famous phrase from the show: “Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty” – and it was. Every movement, speech and sound effect was slightly weird and over-the-top in a way that was carefully measured, very funny and a touch dark.

I loved Rudolpho (Matt Gillett), as Matilda’s mum’s dance partner with his dramatic Latin movements and leather-clad pert buttocks.

And Miss Trunchbull was brilliantly played by Elliot Harper, looking like the world’s worst granny, with the figure of an American quarterback, delicate hand movements and softly sinister voice.

The creative set (Rob Howell) and choreography (Peter Darling) were at their best for me in School Song where performers threw themselves around a climbing frame grid, sitting and stepping on alphabet blocks as each was pushed into place, perfectly in time with Tim Minchin’s clever lyrics.

In such a full-on, loud production it would be easy to lose the focus on Matilda – one small, serious girl. But Sophie Woolhouse, although only pocket-sized, had a charismatic presence expressed in every deliberate word and body movement. We knew exactly what this determined young person felt and meant at every stage. Three other actresses will also play the role during the Norwich run, which lasts until August 17.

The show richly deserved the standing ovation we adults and children all gave it. It’s an exhilarating and funny night’s entertainment – catch it if you can. Contact: Tel 01603 630000

Alex Hurrell

Pictures: Helen Maybanks/Manuel Harlan.