Delay over Cromer park town takeover

Former Cromer mayor Greg Hayman who has concerns about the planned North Lodge Park deal. PHOTO: ANT

Former Cromer mayor Greg Hayman who has concerns about the planned North Lodge Park deal. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

A public meeting to shape the future of a Cromer clifftop park has been put off to the autumn.

Flower beds at North Lodge Park, Cromer.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Flower beds at North Lodge Park, Cromer.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Legal red tape in a deal between two councils is being put forward as the reason for the hitch in tackling the long-running saga of North Lodge Park, which is earmarked for a town takeover.

But it comes as people voice concerns about the lack of facilities in the area for the summer – with contracts for putting, bowling and cafe on hold until the park's fate is finalised.

And a former mayor has also called the whole switch of the leisure land from the district to town council into question and feels it has been shrouded in too much secrecy.

Greg Hayman was one of a trio of councillors who opposed the town council taking over the park, but were outvoted 9-3.

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He fears the council is moving with 'undue haste' on an important issue, which had only been discussed behind closed doors rather than under public scrutiny.

There were concerns about whether the council could afford maintenance without income from a planned crematorium, which was not yet decided. He has called for a parish poll so the whole town could have its say, adding: 'The town won't forgive us if we get it wrong.'

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Town council clerk Julie Chance said the public meeting previously announced for June 9 had been put back because negotiations with the district were taking longer than expected.

The council was committed to consulting residents on the future management of the park, but could not do it until the freehold transfer had been completed.

Discussions had been held behind closed doors because they involved confidential contract and legal issues.

She stressed: 'We are not being secretive or dragging our feet but we must make sure it is done properly for the people of Cromer.'

The town will get £150,000 from the district to help with five years of maintenance costs while the it built up its reserves, starting with an increase of £13,000 in the town budget for 2015 - £3 per household.

But Mrs Chance stressed that no decisions had yet been made on what facilities would be in the park - which would be subject to public consultation.

Question marks hang over the future of long-running facilities such as putting and bowls which might not be affordable as maintenance costs outweigh income.

The current park also houses a rose garden, model boating pond, and a disused tennis court/ children's playground.

Previous plans for the park have included new play equipment - and parking to help with the east end of town, which was dropped after a public outcry voiced in a previous town poll which was overwhelmingly against the idea.

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