Dominic Bareham, senior reporter
Friday, January 25, 2013
A major new tourist initiative to open up a Norfolk town’s Mere to visitors will continue to go ahead despite an attempt to get the plans withdrawn at a council meeting.
The Mere Boardwalk scheme in Diss will still be included as part of the town’s Heritage Triangle Project after the town council narrowly voted in favour of keeping the proposal despite councillors’ concerns about the cost of the scheme and the likely impact of the plans on the market value of the council’s office in Market Hill.
Councillor Harold Rackham had tabled a motion to withdraw the plan for a walkway across the Mere stretching from behind the council’s office to King’s Head Yard because he was worried about the expense involved, the possibility the council’s office could be devalued and who was going to maintain the walkway.
The motion went to a deciding vote, but the town’s mayor, Graham Minshull, opted to keep the project, believing it would help to bring much needed tourist trade into the town.
He said: “The north of the town is dying and we need to bring people up here and people walking up the boardwalk will bring them to the north of the town and that is what I am making the decision on.”
The scheme is part of the overall Heritage Triangle Project, which aims to restore the Corn Hall and develop the Heritage Triangle around it.
The initiative has cleared the first stage in a bid to receive £1.5m of heritage lottery funding for the improvements and the project committee has received an initial £60,900 to draw up detailed plans for the area.
The aim is to submit an application for the full funding in the autumn and if this is successful the work should be completed by mid-2015.
The estimated cost of the boardwalk would be between £120,000 and £150,000 and the walkway would enable visitors to see the Mere’s extensive wildlife, including mallards, tufted duck, moorhens and Canada geese.