Cromer demands a referendum on plans for car park in North Lodge Park
- Credit: Archant
Cromer is demanding a referendum allowing voters to say whether they want a car park to be built in the town's much-loved North Lodge Park.
An overwhelming majority of some 80 residents who attended a parish meeting in Cromer Parish Church last night voted to call for a parish poll.
If approved, the referendum will cost Cromer Town Council about £3,000.
North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), which has applied to itself to build a 48-space car park on the park's old tennis courts, is not bound by the result of a parish poll.
The meeting, called by six local electors and chaired by Cromer Mayor Tim Adams, heard speaker after speaker condemn NNDC's 'deliberate neglect' of the park and express doubt and distrust about its plans for the rest of the attraction, once renowned for thriving attractions which were popular with visitors and residents.
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In a statement circulated to all those at the meeting, NNDC explained that the move would represent a £200,000 investment in the 'enhancement and productive use of a long-term vacant' part of the park, improve access to seaside facilities on the east side of the town, attract more people to the park and to east side businesses, improve parking for people attending weddings in North Lodge, and include new fully-accessible public toilets.
John Edwards, one of the six who called for the parish meeting, said east side businesses benefited from on-street parking, adding: 'NNDC says the park is a brownfield site but it's been allowed to run down over many years to justify its use as a car park.'
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Peter Hickling warned that a car park would be the 'thin end of the wedge' with wider destruction of the park ahead.
Rosemary Price believed NNDC would 'railroad' the plans through, despite public feeling.
She added: 'If we can get some money from the car park and put the park back as it should be, then I would accept it.'
Marion Saunders urged people to consider organising a petition instead which could be carried out over a longer period and would not cost money.
The call for a parish poll will now be considered by NNDC's Returning Officer, Sheila Oxtoby.
If approved, the referendum must be held between 14 and 25 days of the demand being made.
The poll question to be asked was also approved last night: 'Do you wish to see any part of North Lodge Park converted into a car park? Yes or No?'
? A similar poll conducted in 2007 saw 94pc of those who took part vote against an earlier NNDC car-park proposal for the park. That plan was eventually shelved.