Former Reepham Town Council chair Les Paterson (pictured), who resigned several weeks ago after ten years as a councillor, explained he had made his decision following a dispute over the installation of planters in the Market Place.
Earlier this year, the town council agreed to proposals put forward by Broadland District Council to install planters to help create a socially distanced safe space for shoppers, although it was recognised this would result in the loss of a number of parking spaces.
However, following opposition from local traders and residents after the planters were put in place at the end of August, the town council reached a compromise and quickly arranged to have them moved.
At the town council meeting in September, Mr Paterson proposed the planters be put back to their original positions, but this was not supported by other councillors. A subsequent motion was then agreed to move them altogether.
However, several businesses in the Market Place have now “adopted” some of the planters, with their locations approved to ensure they do not affect parking, do not cause an issue from a health and safety perspective, and, where possible, help to ensure pedestrian safety and access to premises for people with disabilities.
Mr Paterson, who joined the town council in February 2010 and became chair in May 2011, said a recent survey showed parking to be sufficient, even with any lost spaces in the Market Place.
He added there was enough parking in the nearby Station Road carpark and at Stimpson’s Piece, but was concerned the town council had not had enough time to consult with traders and shoppers before taking the decision to move the planters permanently.
“I couldn’t work with that and felt I couldn’t stay on as a councillor,” said Mr Paterson. “It was simply a difference of opinion. And ten years on the council is probably enough anyway.”
During his tenure as chair, Mr Paterson said he was particularly proud of the development and refurbishment of the town hall, which now includes an office for council staff, the replacement of all the streetlights with energy-efficient lamps and the renewal of the carpark at Stimpson’s Piece, the town’s recreation ground.
Mr Paterson, who said he planned to remain on the town hall management committee, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have taken the trouble to send me expressions of your appreciation and support for the work I have been able to carry out on your behalf.
“In turn, I would like to express my appreciation to all those councillors, past and present, who have supported me in serving our community.
“I must thank in particular the council’s permanent staff, Jo Boxall, Sally Gill and, until she left some little while ago, Judith Flack, who supported and guided me unstintingly through the many trials and tribulations of my time as chairman.
“My only wish is that everybody involved with the town council, both councillors and staff, will gain as much pleasure and fulfilment from serving our community as I have over the past ten years.”
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