No money in pot for White Lion steps repair
PUBLISHED: 21:31 10 September 2015 | UPDATED: 21:31 10 September 2015
Archant Norfolk © 2014
After more than three years no progress has been made over Gorleston's White Lion steps which are set to be mothballed until money to reinstate them becomes available.
Norfolk County Council this week confirmed it was reluctantly drawing a line under the long-running saga rather than pouring more money into it and incurring possible legal fees without the security of an outcome in its favour.
Tonnes of bricks and soil cascaded down the steps between Cliff Hill and Beach Road and a 12-year-old boy narrowly escaped injury after the wall of a newly-built house collapsed during a “landslip” in April 2012.
The route has been partially blocked since then although the public can still access the short cut and full repairs have never been carried out.
A county council spokesman said the authority had decided not to push ahead with “complex and lengthy” legal action having spent in the order of £10,000 already.
She added that the council had “exhausted all realistic possibilities of recovering money” from the developer of the nearby housing as it tried to agree responsibility for the collapse.
She said: “The steps belong to Norfolk County Council but the land alongside is privately owned and had been subject to recent building work by a local development company.
“Unfortunately it became increasingly apparent to the authority that restoration of the steps was unlikely to be settled without formal action.
“The council has exhausted all realistic possibilities of recovering the sums required. Reluctantly, the decision has been taken to no longer actively pursue the development company as this will simply incur further legal costs with little or no prospect of recovery.
“At a time of significant reductions in funding we are unfortunately unable to finance the repair work needed from the public purse. The steps will be maintained in their current reduced state.”
Graham Plant, county councillor for Gorleston, said the outcome was “disappointing.”
The cost of repairing the steps is estimated at £250,000, although no detailed work has been done as that would also incur further expense.
“They tried going down the legal path and it has cost quite a bit of money,” Mr Plant said.
“The judgement had to be if there was any merit in carrying on with it. The cost of repairing them has been quoted to me as £250,000. The county council has not got that sort of money and the borough council certainly hasn’t.
“The steps are safe and are being maintained and until times get more prosperous they are going to remain as they are.
“There are steps there and there are more front line services that have more demands being made of them.”
An earlier probe ruled a build up of water behind the wall lead to the sudden structural failure.