A hole lot of trouble for Dereham’s Cherry Tree car park

Mystery surrounds the ownership of land at the main entrance to one of Dereham's busiest car parks – where the emergence of two large potholes has become a cause for concern among motorists.

But the solution to getting them filled in may rest as far afield as South-East Asia.

The holes have opened up at the main entrance to the Cherry Tree car park, next to the former pub.

Town councillor Robert Hambidge has claimed Breckland Council, which owns the majority of the car park off Theatre Street and Market Place, is 'passing the buck' by not filling them in. But a spokesman for the district council insists the authority does not own the stretch of road where the holes have appeared.

Breckland says the land – used by hundreds of visitors, commuters and shoppers each day – is the responsibility of the pub owners.

Mr Hambidge said: 'I'm staggered that a small piece of land with access to the car park is owned by someone else.'

Robert Richmond, Breckland councillor for Swanton Morley, who has been looking into the issue, believes the owners of the pub live in Thailand and have a British representative.

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It was this British counterpart who the district council wrote to earlier this month.

A Breckland spokesman confirmed: 'We have written to the registered landowner and informed them where the potholes are and asked them to take the appropriate action. As this is not our land we are unable to take any further action at this stage.'

Mr Richmond said: 'Breckland would rather they do own it because they would rather something happen earlier rather than later.'

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said the authority did not have responsibility of the land, but had worked with Breckland to find and notify the landowner about the damaged bit of road.

The Cherry Tree Car Park has 448 spaces and the two potholes, described as 'craters' by Michael Walters, 66, of Beetley, who regularly parks in the are.

He said: 'It is a nonsense. Not only are cars being damaged, there could be a nasty accident. I have stopped using that access road because it is dangerous. I have had enough of my car sinking into a hole.'

Mr Walters said anybody crossing the road on foot risked falling into the potholes.

He added there was a risk of vehicles leaving and entering the car park crashing into each other because of motorists trying to avoid the affected area.

A member of staff at Alexander and Payne Property Consultancy - next to the access road - said: 'I have seen an elderly lady trip over. It isn't good driving into the car park. It is going to ruin someone's car one day. I think they (the holes) are going to merge into one.'

Phillip Duigan, Breckland and town councillor, said the holes were 'concerning' as the access road was an important entrance and exit to the car park.

He added it was the first time potholes had been an issue in that part of the car park.

The Cherry Tree pub was sold by Enterprise Inns in January last year after it had been serving pints for 200 years.

The new owners were never identified and it remains shut.