Cromer parish meeting.
Last Friday’s Cromer parish meeting, of approx 80 registered electors, voted to request a parish poll asking the following question: Do you wish to see any part of North Lodge Park to be converted into a car park? Yes or No. This question is being forwarded to the Returning Officer at NNDC who will decide whether or not there will be a parish poll.
Discussions at the meeting showed the strength of feeling the community have for North Lodge Park, and how strongly the community want it to remain a special place at the heart of Cromer. Both our surveys have shown this to be the community’s highest priority for the Park.
We, the committee for the Friends of North Lodge Park, do not wish to see more parking in the Park. Ideally, we would like to get rid of all parking. We also want to see the Park put on a sustainable footing for the future, which requires a significant guaranteed revenue stream. No matter how often or how loudly anyone says “NNDC should be funding the park properly”, without new money we do not think there is any chance of anything beyond minimal maintenance for the foreseeable future because of the significantly increased financial constraints on local Government. .
As a committee, we have had to make a difficult decision. We would much rather the area proposed for the car park is used again for children’s games and educational activities; but we know from our surveys that a significant percentage (50%) of you would support a small car park provided it enabled the rest of the Park to be safeguarded and enhanced.
We do not support the current car park proposal, and have written to NNDC with our considered view that the current proposal has no benefit to the wider park. We have asked NNDC to work with the community to develop a long term plan for the whole Park.
Poll no-win for NLP
Therefore the Friends of North Lodge Park committee have adopted the policy to be prepared to accept a limited car park if – and only if – this benefits the whole park; we did not support the motion for a parish poll.
We believe holding this parish poll is a lose-lose for the Park.
- In the event of a yes vote, or a significant yes vote, NNDC may feel they have the town’s support for the proposed car park without any benefit going to the Park
- In the event of a no vote (which is not enforceable):
if NNDC abides by the result, will there be new money for the Park or will it continue on a minimal maintenance basis?
if NNDC rejects the result, will the proposed car park will be installed with no benefit to the wider Park?
The Friends’ objective is to protect and improve the whole of North Lodge Park. With the invaluable help of volunteers the cafe has become a successful community hub, the gardens around the cafe brought back to life, and there have been a range of successful events in the Park. But unless more people come forward to help, managing the whole park with volunteers may not be sustainable.
North Lodge Park will require significant funding which is unlikely to come from NNDC. A car park may prove to be the only realistic revenue source. So while opposed to the current planning application, your committee does not believe the option of a revenue-producing car park in North Lodge Park should be completely discounted. It should at least be used as a basis to discuss how North Lodge Park can be funded and managed in the future.
The Friends committee are passionate about bringing the Park back to be a Park we can be proud of. We spend hours of our time on your behalf working in the cafe and Park so know the issues. We live and work North Lodge Park. Should we not be trying to find a revenue source that will make the Park sustainable? If not a car park what other revenue source could there be (I repeat, it is unlikely to come from NNDC)? Would you be willing to put your hand deep into your pocket to replace revenue that a car park could generate?
We need to find a way to have a sensible debate within the community and with NNDC. We do not think the proposed parish poll is the way to do it.