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Big turnout expected for Broads meeting

PUBLISHED: 09:44 15 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:51 03 July 2010

The final of a trio of public meetings organised to discuss the threat of Broads flooding will be held tonight, but the number of people allowed in will be limited for safety reasons.

The final of a trio of public meetings organised to discuss the threat of Broads flooding will be held tonight, but the number of people allowed in will be limited for safety reasons.

The meeting will be a further chance for local people to talk about the potential impact of a Natural England document which says that 25 square miles of the northern Broads, an area which is home to six villages, could be allowed to flood in the coming decades in the face of climate change.

With the two previous meetings at Hickling and Potter Heigham both drawing crowds of at least 400 people each, there is little to suggest this evening's third gathering at Sea Palling will attract a lower number of villagers.

But organisers have been forced to set a limit of 110 people for the village hall venue because they are worried about a similar situation to that which arose at Potter Heigham, when the village hall was bursting at the seams and people complained of the stifling conditions.

Malcolm Kerby, co-ordinator of the Happisburgh-based Coastal Concern Action Group and who called the meetings alongside North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, said he had spoken to members of the Sea Palling village hall committee and asked for their advice with regard to maximum numbers.

“The reaction to the meetings has been absolutely staggering, we have had the thick end of 1,000 people at the two meetings to date, which we simply did not anticipate,” said Mr Kerby.

“I deeply regret the fact we will have to limit the Sea Palling meeting, but it is a straightforward concern for people's safety.

“I am of course very happy to come back and attend more meetings to talk to those who are unable to get in.”

Mr Kerby said it had been necessary to call the meetings with a relative amount of speed because of the immediate importance of the issue and the fact the public had not been involved in a behind-closed- doors debate on the subject earlier in the year.

He had been offered use of nearby Waxham Barn to stage the Sea Palling meeting, but with a lack of seating and heating as well as poor lighting, it was decided not to accept the offer.

“It all means that a number of people will be disenfranchised and I don't like that at all,” said Mr Kerby.

“But we will do whatever we can to give a say to all the people who want to have their voices heard.

“The two meetings so far have given the MP an absolute feel for what his constituents feel - and that is vitally important.”

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