Shadow environment secretary visits north Norfolk

Victoria LeggettThe shadow environment secretary joined his party's candidate in north Norfolk today to listen to the concerns of communities whose homes are at risk of being lost to the sea.Victoria Leggett

The shadow environment secretary joined his party's candidate in north Norfolk today to listen to the concerns of communities whose homes are at risk of being lost to the sea.

Nick Herbert visited Overstrand, near Cromer, with Conservative hopeful Trevor Ivory and listened to villagers as they sat in the White Horse pub on High Street.

But while he promised he would take a long hard look at the way the area's coastline was defended if the Tories came to power, Mr Herbert would not guarantee compensation for those families whose homes would be lost to erosion.

He admitted not every community could be saved but, because of the size of the national debt, said he could not be sure the money would be there to compensate those that were at risk.


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He said: 'I have listened to the arguments and I understand the frustration and we will look at them. But no responsible government can write a blank cheque - and people would not trust us if we did.'

A group of about ten people erosion - which included Conservative district councillor Angie Fitch-Tillett - from Overstrand, Hickling and other communities affected by erosion spoke of their frustrations with how coastal management had been dealt with over the past few years.

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Mr Ivory, who is hoping to take the north Norfolk seat from the Liberal Democrat's Norman Lamb, said: 'They are tired of being talked down to and being told what's good for them.'

Mr Herbert, shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, added: 'We should try to defend communities where we can and we should be involving communities in these actions - not shutting them out. We should be empowering these communities and looking much more at collaborative projects to see if we can defend at lower cost so we can make more schemes happen.'

Mr Ivory is one of six candidates vying for the north Norfolk seat. All will be represented at a hustings event tonight at North Walsham High School which aims to give students and their parents a chance to quiz the contenders.

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