Would you pay 69p a week to preserve Heacham Park?
06:01 18 August 2014
Villagers could be asked to pay 69p a week to buy the green lung of their coastal community.
Campaigners want Heacham Parish Council to borrow the £500,000 needed to buy Heacham Park.
A show of hands at a packed public meeting revealed unanimous support for the move.
The vote was taken after the Heacham Park steering group warned that while supporters had pledged £27,000 towards the cost of buying the 44-acre park, other possible buyers had now emerged.
Steering group member and parish councillor Terry Parish said: “An increasing number of villagers have expressed a wish for the park to be secured for the village. Grants to help purchase the park have not been forthcoming.”
Pocahontas and the park
The park, off Hunstanton Road, was originally the grounds of Heacham Hall, which burned down in the 1940s.
It was once home to John Rolfe, who in 1614 married native American Princess Pocahontas.
Rolfe brought his wife to see his ancestral home in Norfolk in 1616, but they settled in Essex, where she died in 1617.
The park also includes a three-acre carp fishing lake called Pocahontas Lake.
Mr Parish said pledges were not enough to move things forward and the only way to raise the money would be for the parish council to take out a public interest loan, which would be repaid via the parish precept.
He said to take out the loan, the council would have to show that taxpayers were in agreement, adding the deal would cost the average Band D taxpayer 69p a week for the 10-year term of the loan.
“I had a takeaway last night and that was a year’s worth of paying for the park,” he said.
Jim Groom formed the steering group with neighbours in Poplar Avenue, when the park went up for sale in April.
He told the meeting: “It’s for the children, it’s for the future of the village. It’s the last green bit, it’s the lung, it’s the last bit there is if we miss this. Let’s do something right for once.”
There were 146 votes in favour of asking the council to buy the park and none against. The steering group will ask the council to consider the move when it meets tomorrow night.
Mr Parish said while the matter was not formally on the agenda, it could be raised by the public as a matter of concern, or dealt with in matters arising from a previous meeting.
After the vote was taken, steering group member Colin Bray said: “We had a feeling in our hearts the people of Heacham were behind us.”
Earlier, the public meeting heard that while the park was still for sale in its entirety, agents had divided the site into three separate lots, two of which now have interested parties.
Afterwards, parish council chairman Peter Colvin said: “I took note of what happened at the meeting and we’ll be discussing it on Tuesday.”
Tomorrow’s meeting is at the Jubilee Clinic, in Pound Lane (7.30pm).