New mayor Barry’s full of plans for North Walsham

Barry Hester, North Walsham mayor for 2016-2017, with deputy mayor Sally Stuckey. Picture: SUBMITTED

Barry Hester, North Walsham mayor for 2016-2017, with deputy mayor Sally Stuckey. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

Barry Hester has been elected as North Walsham's new mayor in what promises to be an historic year for the town council.

Mr Hester, 58, succeeds Brenda West in the role as the council prepares to move out of the New Road home it has occupied for the past 42 years.

The move to North Walsham register office on King's Arms Street is expected to take place in the early summer.

It will mean North Norfolk District Council, which owns the New Road building, can go ahead with its proposed sale to JD Wetherspoon which plans to open a family restaurant in the building.

Mr Hester, of Corbett Road, North Walsham, said a straw poll he had organised last year on Wetherspoon's arrival had shown that townsfolk supported the idea by about four to one.

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'It will certainly bring jobs, and I hope it will encourage bigger traders to come here as well,' he added.

During his term Mr Hester would also like to increase the number of Sunday markets in the town.

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His ultimate aim is to have one every week and he expects these to include antique and craft markets.

He is also determined to support young dad Matt Smith's North Walsham Play project which is raising funds to improve the town's play areas.

And Mr Hester said he would work to try and resolve the problem of the town's St Nicholas Court shopping precinct which stands on land owned by the Crown Estate.

He hopes the district council will take it over so that it can be repaired and brought back into use for community events.

The cost of repairing the flagstones and the legal pitfalls of assuming liability for the site are currently holding up progress.

'I also want to work closely with other groups in the town, such as Arts North Norfolk and Regenerate North Walsham, and make the public more positive towards the town council by making us fully accessible and transparent, with regular briefings,' he said.

Mr Hester added that he also planned to improve the town council's relationship with both the district and county councils.

Originally from Boreham Wood in Hertfordshire, home of the Elstree Centre where BBC soap EastEnders is filmed, Mr Hester and his partner Tina Foster moved to North Walsham in 2005.

He works as an IT civil servant for the Ministry of Defence and is based at Wattisham Flying Station.

In his leisure time Mr Hester is a keen reader of novels, both in print and on electronic devices. He also enjoys fishing.

Sally Stuckey has been elected as deputy mayor.

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