Hunstanton Town Council News Update
Following a request for an update about recent developments in Hunstanton Town Hall, We at T&A received a letter from the mayor Cllr Anthony Bishopp outlining the progress.
Initially our enquiries were about the closing off of the upstairs offices and chamber, apparently after internal discussions with the clerk and members, the issue of safety for staff, council members and the general public concluded that the previous ‘fire sanctuary’ was no longer sufficient for the amounts of people it would give sanctuary to, although these facilities had been approved by the independent assessor and Norfolk County Council fire department every year for about a decade. So currently the sanctuary is fit for about 8 to 10 people and sometimes there can be around 40 people using these facilities. In any event many decisions will need to be taken about the future uses of these rooms and it’s better to be safe than sorry and so after careful consideration the council has closed these facilities at least until a fire safety inspection is carried out with any actions adhered to and all recommendations addressed and evaluated.
Cllr Bishopp wrote: "Should the report state the Chamber and offices meet satisfactory requirements in the event of a fire then the Chamber and office will be returned to use. However, should the report state that a fire exit is required the council will further discuss the financial implications, In the meantime Hunstanton Town Council (HTC) is considering enlisting the services of an architect to draw up the necessary drawings for either internal or external fire exits to be installed.”
The chamber was envisaged as the primary place for the offering of marriages; however, the whole building was registered (at a cost) and so the ‘community hub long room' (formerly lower floor town hall) will be offered for weddings.
The Mayor Anthony Bishopp, in his letter, referred to the 5-year plan for Hunstanton. They included the transfer of the freehold, currently held by West Norfolk Borough council, to HTC of the Community Centre, apparently the Boro’ council has advised that they are prepared to transfer this town asset to Hunstanton Town Council. In addition, Norfolk County Council has offered their part of the building, currently housing the Children's Centre, both opportunities are "subject to council agreement”.
According to the minutes of the HTC 13/11/2019, item 12 refers to an amount of money known as (CIL) community infrastructure levy: these are monies taxed onto developers for their contribution towards local benefits and so HTC has decided to put these £1330.08 funds towards youth play equipment at the community centre.
Equally, HTC will purchase a ‘double general litter/recycling bin (item 11) made from recycled plastic for the community field/orchard at the Community Centre for £750 approx., from precept funds.
HTC will purchase and install one baby changing unit to be fitted and installed at the Community Centre and one for the Town Hall, their cost about £300 each from precept (item 10). The offices and buildings of the community centre will house the “Heacham and District Community Car scheme”, from the 1st April 2020.
Amongst the developments at the Town Hall in the coming year Hunstanton council intends to house the facility known locally as “Little Lights”, a mother and toddler organisation for local people. The Hunstanton and District Festival of Arts will be using the venue for their events. Planning is underway to offer ‘healthy cookery classes’ and lastly there is a plan for the return of the popular Gin Bar in March.
All in all, we would like to thank Hunstanton Town Council for their frank and fullest answers to our questions without having to resort to the Freedom of Information (FOI) request draconian alternative. As always there are more questions than answers, but I would hope the clearest of responses will continue.
Words by Richard Bird.