Councillor suggests emphasis on care sector could help boost Hunstanton’s economy

Hunstanton town centre. Picture: Ian Burt

Hunstanton town centre. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

The economic struggles of a 'forgotten' west Norfolk seaside town have come under the spotlight.

Richard Bird, Hunstanton town, borough and county councillor, said emphasis on the care sector was the way to provide for an increasingly elderly population and create jobs for young people in a town filled with cafés and charity shops.

But his views were not echoed by William Searle, chamber of trade chairman, who has said the outlook is not all 'doom and gloom' and floundering businesses should be more 'proactive'.

Mr Bird, who lives in Hunstanton, said he believed the town's population was at its lowest since the Second World War. And with that population aging, he said the demand for care would be great and the number of dementia sufferers would grow.

A push for care homes, Mr Bird said, would ease the pressure of an aging society while provide much-needed job opportunities for young people. 'We have got to give them jobs so they have the money so they can afford the housing,' said Mr Bird.

'Unless you are commuting into King's Lynn, you are part of the forgotten society I would submit.'

In 2014, King George VI Primary School in Great Bircham closed and three schools amalgamated under one headteacher.

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'Across the country there is a shortage of school places. Here we are closing schools and the reason is we haven't got the people of child-bearing age living here.'

Mr Bird said now Hunstanton benefitted from fibre broadband he would like to see more businesses planting their roots in the town.

'What we have got now is a huge trend of more and more cafés and coffee shops and, dare I say it, charity shops. There are about 25 places you can buy a coffee within a half-mile radius of the High Street,' he added.

However Mr Searle, director of Searles Sea Tours, said: 'If the shops didn't have any cafés they would not have anyone in them.

'Shops have got to make themselves more user friendly. Enough people come into the town - you just have to go out and get them. We promote positivity and the way to be positive is to be more proactive.'

He added their main problem was getting people to apply for jobs in the town. He said they were working with schools in Hunstanton and Seetec, jobsearch specialists, to find more people for positions.

Are care homes the answer for Hunstanton's economy? Email sophie.biddle@archant.co.uk

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