Fishing plans hit a snag

RICHARD PARR A £500,000 scheme hailed as a way of securing the future of the north Norfolk fishing industry has become entangled in a row about whether the site should be used as a town green.

RICHARD PARR

A £500,000 scheme hailed as a way of securing the future of the north Norfolk fishing industry has become entangled in a row about whether the site should be used as a town green.

Funding will be available for two years to build a Wells fish-handling facility at Favor Parker Quay, which would provide a cold storage facility for use by about 40 fishermen.

But a last-minute intervention has now raised doubts about whether the project will be built before the funding deadline expires.

Businessman John Crook and his 100-plus supporters have called for an alternative site for the fishing facility to be found - and have lodged an application to have the quay site officially registered as a town green under the recently introduced Commons Act.

They claim the site has been used by townsfolk for sports and pastimes for at least 20 years.

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Last night Mr Crook said he is determined to press ahead with his application because the proposed fish-handling facility is in the wrong place.

“We are all in favour of the fisherman having a building and I would willingly chair a committee to find a new site,” he said.

“We have this crazy idea to put up a building on land that the public have enjoyed for 20 or 30 years,” he said.

But North Norfolk District Council is gathering evidence to refute opponents' claims about the land use of the area.

North Norfolk District Council economic development manager Robin Smith made it clear that the whole £500,000 investment in the new facility could be lost because of the timescale of the funding.

Michael Snow, deputy chairman of the Wells Harbour Commissioners, said the scheme was being “held to ransom”.

“Unless we start the initial pre-contract work within a week or so we will have run out of time to secure the funding package and the whole scheme will be lost,” he said.

Harbour master Bob Smith said that generations have used the site for fishing trade and accused opponents of the scheme of “stalling” with their town green application.

He added “It beggars belief to me that a few individuals can stop this application based on something I feel is ludicrous.”

At their cabinet meeting on Monday, district council members are being recommended to approve moving the fishing facility project forward in advance of any decision concerning the area being designated a town green.

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