Businesses count cost but sunny Cromer is back on its feet after weekend of trouble
PUBLISHED: 08:26 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 20:12 22 August 2017
The only visible hints on Monday of the trouble in Cromer over the weekend was a police van on Garden Street - and an eviction notice pinned to the Runton Road car park sign.
It listed the number plates of 20 vehicles ordered to leave the site by 3pm on Saturday.
The travellers are now gone and the car park is full of visitors once more. Dog walkers make their way across the grass; while in the distance swimmers enjoy the calm, blue North Sea on a sunny day.
Businesses are keen to put the weekend behind them, but what happened here over 36 hours from Friday to Sunday is the first thing on everyone’s lips.
Yesterday the seafront was packed with tourists enjoying fish and chips, ice cream and the sunny weather.
Andrew Roxby-Clark, who was visiting with his family from Norwich, said they had been shocked by the reports of the trouble over the weekend but were not put off coming. “We like it here and the police have sorted out what they had to sort out,” he said.
Gary Dickenson, president of the Cromer Chamber of Trade and Business, began a LoveCromer hashtag on Facebook on Sunday evening, posting it on social media alongside a picture of the pier. It had 1,400 shares by Monday morning.
“I wanted to get a bit of positivity back,” he said. “It is business as usual. Businesses are all very resilient but they have lost revenue.”
He estimated the closures of the town’s firms on Saturday and Sunday had cost tens of thousands of pounds.
That included pubs which shut early on Saturday to avoid trouble and dozens of businesses shut early on Sunday or did not open – on what should have been one of the busiest days of the year.
The Wellington pub believes it lost thousands of pounds, while Andrew Hubbard, from Craft Burger, closed on Saturday evening and did not open on Sunday, meaning they also lost thousands.
“It has an affect on the town but we keep going,” he said. “We all closed together to keep everyone safe.”
The Blue Sky cafe next to the Runton Road car park was shut throughout the weekend because of the large group of travellers next to them. Tristan Taylor from the cafe said they lost hundreds of pounds in takings.
Danny Hickling of Little Gems Rock Shop said they had two items worth a total of almost £1,000 taken - more than he has lost to shoplifting in the previous 16 years.
Laurie Scott of Breakers Cafe shut early on Sunday as business owners kept each other informed about where any trouble was brewing.
“Our absolute priority has got to be the safety of our staff,” he said. “In 20 years we’ve had nothing like this, but Cromer is open, people should have no concerns about coming here.”
One fact which has startled people in the town is the lack of arrests from the trouble.
Julie Cole of Benedicts Cove said it was intimidating seeing large groups walking around.
But she said: “I have every sympathy for the situation the police were facing.”
The businesses worst affected appear to be the pubs and cafes.
Kate Gale, owner of the Garden House Gallery, said their takings on Sunday were up on the same Sunday last year - traditionally one of the busiest weekend’s of the year with the end of the carnival.
But another gift shop, whose owner, did not wish to be identified called the police after she caught a girl shoplifting.
Leader of North Norfolk District Council Tom FitzPatrick said Cromer was welcoming to visitors and just asked for them to be respectful in return.
Looking forward, he said the council and police would review what happened over the weekend. “We had no intelligence that there was a large group of people coming,” he said.
•What happened when?
•A group of travellers arrive at Runton Road car park on Friday afternoon.
•The first call to police from a businesses about problems is thought to be around 4pm when a gift shop on Garden Street reports shoplifting. •In total police said they were called to five incidents of theft, three from shops and two from local pubs where drinks were taken and not paid for.
•At 11.30pm police are called to Cromer Social Club to reports a large group are refusing to leave
•A teenage girl is allegedly raped at 11.30pm at a bus stop on Cadogan Road
•Throughout the day police receive reports of shoplifting and anti-social behaviour. An eviction notice is served on the travellers.
•Most pubs and restaurants close for the evening, but officers are called about 5pm to one pub and also to Masala Twist on Prince of Wales Road.
•Shortly after 8.50pm, officers are called to Seacroft caravan park.