RICHARD BIRD

...putting people before party

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Line drawn under Hunny pier saga...

7th February 2008 - the following article is reproduced by kind permission of Lynn News

TIME will no longer be spent dealing with repeated criticisms and legal challenges surrounding Hunstanton pier, West Norfolk Council has decided.

Tuesday saw the cabinet approve recommendations to move forward and "draw a line under" the row over CHS Amusement arcade, built in place of one destroyed by fire in 2002.

But the long-running saga looks set to continue with campaigners vowing to carry on. Angry Hunstanton Town Council's opposition to the borough's stance was apparently ignored.

Councillors discussed a report, drawn up by the council's head of legal services, outlining the continued controversy surrounding the CHS development and the council's conduct in allowing planning permission.

Protestors objected to the development because of its encroachment on The Green, questioned the council's consultation process and accused it of maladministration.

They petitioned the council and later claimed CHS was obliged to rebuild Hunstanton's Victorian pier, which was destroyed in a storm in 1978.

But the report, rubber stamped on Tuesday, said the courts would not entertain any challenge to the council's decision to grant planning permission and outlined why its current owners were not obliged to rebuild the pier.

Councillors also agreed the recommendation that a deed be drawn up to formally release its owners from this responsibility to put an end to the intricate legal debate.

Opening the discussion, council leader Nick Daubney said the report was "eminently sensible," adding: "I realise the recommendations may be a disappointment to some. I am keen they continue constructive discussions with myself."

People with inquiries regarding the pier will now be directed to the document to save officer time and allow them to concentrate on other projects, such as the proposed regeneration of the resort, Mr Daubney said.

Hunstanton Town Council voted to oppose the report at an emergency meeting called to discuss the issue on Monday.

Speaking after Tuesday's meeting, Hunstanton Mayor Mr Richard Bird said he wanted to bring about peace.

"It would have been far better for the council to hold up its hands and say it made mistakes – for it to say sorry and move on, rather than to cover up," he added.

Pier campaigner John Maiden said the borough council had shown "contempt for the people of Hunstanton" and the fight was far from over.

"It's a sad day for local democracy," he added.

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