It is a popular and scenic footpath which helps connect a community on one side of a river with its larger neighbour on the opposite bank.

But a plan to upgrade the riverbank walk in West Lynn - which takes people to the crossing to King's Lynn - has gone off course following an extraordinary row over how the project should be paid for.

The scheme has been turned down for funding, amid much acrimony among West Norfolk councillors, with one member threatening to issue a formal complaint, calling the decision an act of "skulduggery". 

Eastern Daily Press: The route of the footpath that locals want surfacedThe route of the footpath that locals want surfaced (Image: Google)

West Lynn Community Action Group (WLCAG) had hoped to secure funding to surface the riverbank footpath between the village football field and the Clenchwarton Road bridge that connects West Lynn with King's Lynn.

The group say it will help encourage more people to ditch their cars and walk, as currently in the winter months the path turns into a muddy quagmire. More than 150 locals have supported a petition for the project.

It would also mean the path could be accessible to wheelchair users from the bridge right up to the West Lynn ferry, another way that pedestrians can cross the River Great Ouse.

However, the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) panel - a group that decides how West Norfolk Council (WNC) uses funding gained from new developments - decided to refuse the application ruling it did not demonstrate value for money.

Eastern Daily Press: The riverbank path at the end connecting to West Lynn ferryThe riverbank path at the end connecting to West Lynn ferry (Image: Google)

The issue boiled down to the fact that Norfolk County Council (NCC), who would be responsible for undertaking the work, only provided one quote from its contractors, of £260,000 for the project.

According to the CIL panel's rules, it must receive three quotes before agreeing to fund a scheme.

At a meeting this month, members supported the scheme.

But they decided not to proceed with it, heeding a warning from the monitoring officer that approving it with just one quote would set a precedent that could lead to claims the panel had given preferential treatment to WLCAG, risking appeals and legal action.

Eastern Daily Press: Entrance to the path from the Freebridge (Clenchwarton Road) sideEntrance to the path from the Freebridge (Clenchwarton Road) side (Image: Google)

However, Alexandra Kemp, councillor for West and South Lynn, believes this was the wrong decision and that NCC has already found a contractor offering the best value for money. 

She also argues the scheme would support the council's efforts to encourage more active travel and highlights a growing need due to new housing developments being built in the area.

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Eastern Daily Press: Councillor Alexandra KempCouncillor Alexandra Kemp (Image: Chris Bishop)

"This seems like skullduggery," said Ms Kemp, adding: "NCC, as a public authority, always offers the best value on its quotes. It is outrageous to suggest this does not."

Ms Kemp has said she intends to issue a corporate complaint following the decision and believes WNC's procurement policy does allow single quotes in certain circumstances.

She says that since NCC is the only organisation authorised to carry out the work, it would fit this remit.

Eastern Daily Press: Councillor Jim MoriartyCouncillor Jim Moriarty (Image: KLWNBC)

Chairman of the CIL panel, deputy leader Jim Moriarty, said at the meeting he hoped a new application would come forward with greater scope to include provision for a cycle path, as well as evidence of additional quotes to show value for money.

More than £480,000 was awarded this month to other projects in the latest round of CIL applications.



There has long been a community in West Lynn, as evident by its Norman church and ferry, which has linked the community with King's Lynn since 1285.

But it was not considered part of the King's Lynn borough until 1935, when it was abolished as an individual parish.

This move split the village in half, with the western side becoming part of the parish of Clenchwarton.

Today, it is linked with its larger neighbour via two bridges and a ferry, which transports tens of thousands of passengers each year.

The journey takes just five minutes to get to the other side.