Cromer pier stays closed - some car parks to reopen in county’s north

More people will be visiting the north Norfolk coast this weekend as lockdown is eased and preparations are under way to make sure everyone stays safe.

New guidance from the Government means that people can travel to the coast “irrespective of distance”, as long as social distancing guidance is respected, and spend more time outdoors including picnicking or sunbathing.

North Norfolk District Council re-opened the public car parks at Pretty Corner and Holt Country Park, from Wednesday, May 13 at 7am.

However, a spokesman said it would not open more public car parks at beach and seafront locations in north Norfolk at this time, to avoid a potential sudden influx of visitors to these popular attractions.

Coastal car parks will remain open in Cromer, at Cadogan Road and The Meadow, in Sheringham, at Morris Street and Station Approach, and in Wells, at Stearmans Yard.

Sarah Bütikofer, leader of the council, said: “As a result of new regulations we have taken the decision after careful consideration to open Pretty Corner and Holt Country Park car parks to enable more local people to drive there for their exercise.

“Of course, we must ask those considering travelling there to be as conscientious as possible and urge them to continue at all times to observe the social distancing guidelines, as the danger to public health and safety posed by coronavirus has most definitely not passed.

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“Meanwhile we have also taken the decision not to open our seafront and beach public car parks at this time, although we will be monitoring and reviewing the situation daily. We do not want at this time to potentially encourage huge numbers of visitors to our beaches due to safety concerns.

“We are not opening Cromer Pier or any of our public toilets which are currently closed, as we deem this to be premature in light of the Government’s stepped approach. We are looking at June 1 as a key date for further guidance from the Government, so effectively, apart from exercise, we are not wanting people to come to North Norfolk for now as our facilities and attractions are closed.”

Meanwhile, Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP, said he had spoken to Chief Constable Simon Bailey about the situation.

He said: “He will use the police to make sure that people adhere to social distancing and that people are kept safe.

“I’ve been concerned, like many, about people flocking to our coastal areas.

“I’ve commented to the district council that we need to adopt a sensible approach to when we open car parks. If people flock to the most popular areas a staggered approach to re-opening the car parks could help alleviate any strain.

“I would implore people to follow social distancing guidance. The risk of infection in large, outdoor areas is extremely low, as we now understand.”

Mr Baker said people were still not allowed to visit second homes, even for just for a couple of hours during the day before returning to their main address.

He said: “Leaving the place where you live to stay at another home for a holiday or another purpose is still not allowed, and that includes visiting a second home.

“The reason for that is that you can travel for outdoor exercise or recreation, but under the guidance, a second home is not an outdoor open space.”

MORE: How will Norfolk’s pubs work when they can reopen?A spokesman for the National Trust, which runs several sites in our region, said they were waiting for more details from the Government before reviewing its reopening plans.

Meanwhile, the RNLI is warning beach visitors that there are no lifeguards on beaches and that it was important that anyone visiting the coast understood the risk and took the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.

The Holkham Estate tweeted: “We are carefully working on plans to gradually and cautiously re-open our main car parks later this month. The safety of our staff, visitors and the community will be our clear priority.”