Grand Tour by Elisabeth Skinner MBE – Norfolk

18 May 2022

“Today I visited Stacey Kent and Sarah Foote out on the far eastern seaboard in Norfolk. Stacey is clerk to two parishes north of Great Yarmouth, Martham and Winterton, although she will soon be moving on to the parish of Costessey near Norwich. We took a drive out to the dunes at Winterton where the sea is rapidly eating away at the edge of the land. The parish council is facilitating a local meeting where people can discuss the threatened destruction with experts. It was somewhat concerning to hear that the woman who owns the car park as a local business was having to spend tens of thousands of her own money to try and keep the sea at bay.

I couldn’t find the Town Council offices in Lowestoft. Google maps took me to a postcode nearby but I could see no sign of the site that Sarah had shown me in a photograph. I rang the council and got a response from a young man who had no idea where I was although I was actually just one street away. Once I’d landed in the right place, Sarah showed me around the offices where they were recovering from a flooding and I met the office staff. We then went on a drive to get a feel for the town. We discussed all the ‘assets’ that were transferred to the new Town Council in 2017 from a principal authority. This included an old town hall, currently boarded up but with exciting ideas in the pipeline made possible by significant heritage funding.

We had a breezy walk along the seafront now owned by the town council between a Bird’s Eye factory and the sea along with a caravan park, posts for drying herring nets, a play area, and the circle marking the most easterly point. This frontage has a substantial sea wall but it doesn’t stop the sea from surging inland in a storm. We then had a bite to eat in a nearby park where the council is preparing for a big jubilee event. This is Sarah’s responsibility so she was wondering how to manage the numbers who might attend – the park could take about 1500 people from a population of 55,000.

I then headed back to my daughter’s, enjoying a drive across the Suffolk and Norfolk countryside.”

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By Elisabeth Skinner MBE. Follow her progress on Twitter – @lisabethski.

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