Council leader takes down Winter Gardens area protest banner

Winter Garden protest sign. Photo: Supplied

Winter Garden protest sign. Photo: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

A protest banner condemning the state of the historic Winter Gardens on Great Yarmouth's seafront attracted hundreds of responses on social media.

And when alerted to a picture of the large banner, put onto Facebook by 'concerned residents', borough council leader Graham Plant went straight out and took it down.

The photo was put up on Facebook on Saturday, April 9 and again the following day.

Cllr Plant said: 'This is obviously not the way things are done. There are other ways that members of the public can get in touch with the council.

'If we had £3m spare we would probably spend it on restoring the Winter Gardens. But in these harsh times we are trying to make efficiencies while maintaining frontline services.'

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He added concerned residents had every opportunity to speak at every full council meeting to express their feelings, as well as being able to contact the council or councillors directly. The authority is currently investigating the incident, which counts as fly-posting.

A council spokesman said: 'The borough council has a range of powers to tackle environmental crimes, including fly-posting, and has one of Norfolk's best records for enforcement of environmental crimes.'

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In the long term, there are plans to restore the Winter Gardens back to its former glory.

The spokesman added: 'The council has always been clear that its work with the Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust to repair and restore the Winter Gardens is a medium-to-long term ambition.

'This building has the potential to provide a new tourism destination for the borough and East Anglia, helping to support jobs and the local economy. However, ensuring the business plan is viable in the long-term and then securing the required investment is work that will take time, especially with an historic Grade II*-listed building of this construction.

'The council is working up the first stage of a major two-stage funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which must be submitted by June. If this is successful, this will unlock vital funds enabling the borough council to work up the detailed scheme, including the business planning.

'In the meantime, the building is routinely monitored to ensure it remains structurally sound and is surrounded by a fence for its added security.

'While it has been suggested that the building could simply be painted in the interim, it is estimated the cost would be prohibitive, at least £250,000. Much of this would be for the scaffolding required, due to the design and complexity of the building. Moreover, some sections of woodwork and metalwork would have to be repaired or replaced before being painted.

'Such funds would be better spent to help secure the capital funding needed to completely repair and restore the whole building, and bring it back into use.'

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Write to Letters at the Mercury, 169 King Street, Great Yarmouth NR30 2PA or email

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