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'We survived the sinkhole' high street party planned

PUBLISHED: 08:48 18 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:36 18 August 2019

The 'we survived the sinkhole' party could draw even more visitors into the town centre than Sheringham's 90th Queen's birthday celebrations in 2016. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

The 'we survived the sinkhole' party could draw even more visitors into the town centre than Sheringham's 90th Queen's birthday celebrations in 2016. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

A street party is being planned to bring the 'hole' town of Sheringham together after the reopening of the High Street.

Workers inpsecting the sinkhole in Sheringham High Street shortly after it opened up. Picture: STEPH MENZIESWorkers inpsecting the sinkhole in Sheringham High Street shortly after it opened up. Picture: STEPH MENZIES

Works on repairing damage to sewers and pipes under the thoroughfare are due to finish by the end of August. The saga started when a cavernous sinkhole opened up on May 25, which has led to more than three months of disruption and the road being closed to vehicles.

But deputy mayor Liz Withington said the sinkhole had actually had a positive effect.

"What could have been an unmitigated disaster has been survived well and seen the town and traders draw together," she said.

"Traders have been innovative in their approach selling sinkhole pie and 'I've visited the sinkhole' t-shirts.

Sheringham mayor Madeleine Ashcroft (right) and deputy mayor Liz Withington worked with town organisations to minimise the impact of the sinkhole on trade an tourism. 
Picture: KAREN BETHELLSheringham mayor Madeleine Ashcroft (right) and deputy mayor Liz Withington worked with town organisations to minimise the impact of the sinkhole on trade an tourism. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

"In addition the local community has come to realise the importance of shopping locally and supporting their independent traders. Visitors who had not previously visited Sheringham have also come to see the sinkhole."

MORE: The science of sinkholes: Why does the ground open up?

The town maintained a busy programme of summer events despite the sinkhole, and Mrs Withington praised the work of the carnival committee and others who kept calm and carried on.

The repair works have included re-installing a 1,000-metre sewer and manhole, as well as a further 300-metre sewer and water mains on another level.

Closing the High Street to cars meant some eateries have had the chance to boost trade by placing tables and chairs outside - and sparked a renewed debate over whether the road should be more permanently pedestrianised.

Works are nearing completion on repairs to the sinkhole in Sheringham's High Street. This was the scene on August 9, 2019. Picture: Stuart AndersonWorks are nearing completion on repairs to the sinkhole in Sheringham's High Street. This was the scene on August 9, 2019. Picture: Stuart Anderson

But not everyone is for the idea and when a petition backing pedestrianisation was launched, a counter-petition claiming a car-free High Street would damage business was also started.

The party, in the High Street itself, will take place on Sunday, September 1 at 3pm.

Mrs Withington said: "Residents, visitors and local councillors and people involved in the repair of the sinkhole have been invited.

"Everyone will be bringing their own tables and chairs and picnics to celebrate the re-opening of the road."

Sheringham's High Street shops have done their best to make light of the sinkhole. Heirloom toy shop had a diorama of the repair works using Playmobile in its front window. Photo: Cecilia ParisottoSheringham's High Street shops have done their best to make light of the sinkhole. Heirloom toy shop had a diorama of the repair works using Playmobile in its front window. Photo: Cecilia Parisotto

She said the event could be even bigger than the street party held to mark the Queen's 90th birthday, which drew about 3,000 visitors.

There will be music and entertainment, and prizes for the best-decorated table.

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