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Petition launched to bring JD Wetherspoon to North Walsham

PUBLISHED: 12:52 28 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:52 28 August 2019

Sarah Butikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council, said Wetherspoon could still come to North Walsham. Picture: Archant

Sarah Butikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council, said Wetherspoon could still come to North Walsham. Picture: Archant

Paul Heinrich

A petition is calling for the ruling Lib Dems at North Norfolk District Council to reconsider plans for a JD Wetherspoon pub in North Walsham.

Duncan Baker is the Conservatives prospective parliamentary candidate for north Norfolk. Picture: Tom Herman.Duncan Baker is the Conservatives prospective parliamentary candidate for north Norfolk. Picture: Tom Herman.

The firm first expressed an interest in acquiring Cedar House, the old North Walsham Town Council offices, five years ago.

But no contracts have been exchanged despite the firm saying it still wants to open a new pub/restaurant in the town.

Since acquiring power, the Lib Dems have called for a review of the building's future to make the most of the asset.

But Conservative parliamentary candidate for North Norfolk, Duncan Baker, wants the council to bring JD Wetherspoon to North Walsham.

Duncan Baker outside the former North Walsham Town Council offices. Picture: Tom Herman.Duncan Baker outside the former North Walsham Town Council offices. Picture: Tom Herman.

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He said a Freedom of Information request submitted by North Norfolk Conservatives showed the deal could still go-ahead were the council to change its stance.

And he said that James Marsden, senior acquisitions and estates manager at JD Wetherspoon, said the firm was "willing and able to exchange contracts on the property now".

Mr Baker said the Lib Dems stance was an "example of the commercial naivety and lack of vision of the Lib Dems since they seized control of the council.

"They have binned a good plan for a family-friendly pub everyone wants - one on which a considerable amount of local taxpayers' money has already been spent. I believe strongly that the council now has an obligation to listen to what residents want, and get on with bringing Wetherspoon's to North Walsham."

But council leader Sarah Butikofer said: "The council has never said it will not proceed with a deal with JD Wetherspoon only that such a deal needs to now move to a very speedy conclusion, and most importantly that the current market value of the property is reflected in price, not a price that is several years out of date - this is an asset that belongs to residents and we cannot allow them to be short-changed.

"A review of the site is already well under way with a number of options being considered. Councillors will meet soon to shortlist these and it is likely that there will then be a period of consultation with residents."

The petition can be found at tiny.cc/northwalsham

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