New twist to the Blakeney stalls controversy

A caterer at the centre of a dispute over changes to the long-standing food stalls in Blakeney has reassured villagers he does not plan to open a burger bar on the quay.

A caterer at the centre of a dispute over changes to the long-standing food stalls in Blakeney has reassured villagers he does not plan to open a burger bar on the quay.

Andrew Lawford is set to take over the 'tea and refreshment' trading site on the Carnser car park in April 2010 after winning the tender earlier this year.

The decision by the parish council means the existing stallholder, Christine Overton, will have to leave at the end of this tourist season.

At a meeting two weeks ago, the council agreed to hold a parish poll to measure public opinion about the changes. Although it has no legal consequences, some villagers are hopeful the results may convince the council to reverse its decision.


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As well as lamenting the loss of a local person's livelihood, people have expressed concerns that the new occupier would not offer what the visitors to Blakeney wanted.

This week Mr Lawford said he wanted to quash those worries. The 36-year-old, who has run a burger van in a lay-by on the Holt bypass for the past two years, said he planned to sell the same kind of caf�-style snacks and lunches that were currently being sold on the site.

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He added: 'I appreciate the needs and requirements of both the local and holiday trade in Blakeney shall differ from that which I currently supply. I shall continue to supply good, quality, fresh food from local suppliers wherever possible.'

Mr Lawford also sought to answer fears that an 'outsider' was coming into Blakeney and taking business from villagers.

The father-of-two, who lives in Hempstead, said he considered himself a 'local' having spent much of his childhood living in the Glaven Valley, and also said he planned to employ local people.

But Ms Overton said she was still upset by the decision, which will see several villagers lose their jobs. She said: 'I've got nothing against this chap, and I'm sorry he's in the middle of this, but he's not a Blakeney person.'

The changes at the quay also mean the sea food site, occupied for the last 28 years by Duncan Groom, will be under new management from April 2010.

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