News (2013, March)

New from the Council (March 2013).  Published in the Parishioner Magazine

The Dip (Village Green): Many of you will be aware that the Council has been seeking funding to update the ‘Skate & Scooter’ ramps in the Dip. We are pleased to announce that, at our January meeting, the Council awarded the contract to develop this scheme to Highline Extreme, a Downham Market company. This scheme costing some £21,000 was made possible entirely through grant funding and the Council wishes to extend its gratitude to those organisations and agencies that made this possible. We hope that work on the ramps will be completed in about six weeks’ time and that our further efforts can now focus on the provision of the youth shelter.

At a personal level the Council recorded a vote of appreciation to vice Chair Keith Weston who, with Councillor Jane Chadd, has engaged throughout the entire process with the users (young people); the funders (Awards for All, ERVNB, and NCC’s Community Construction Fund) and the contractors that were invited to tender.

Budget and Precept: At one of its meetings each year the Council has to agree the budget (the amount it needs to spend) and the precept (that part of the Council tax it asks the collecting authority, South Norfolk, to collect from parishioners on our behalf.) Your Council has focussed on local needs and, at its November 2012 meeting, determined the precept to be £20,000 (confirmed at the January meeting). In round terms, with Ditchingham’s 1,630 residents (in 710 households), the 2013-14 precept equates to £0.24 per resident (£0.54 per household) per week. This relatively small sum enables your parish Council to carry out its duties for everyone’s benefit.

Localism: We seem increasingly to be made aware that there is ‘no more money…’  While some services and amenities previously offered by Central Government, the County Council, or District Councils are being withdrawn or reduced, some services and amenities are now being delivered at an increasingly local level. Some might call this Localism. This Council’s 2013-14 budget is designed to continue our programme of community renewals and initiatives.

Thwaite Road Play Area: In 1984, following an appeal in the “Parishioner,” a group of volunteers set up Ditchingham Play Association; it was chaired by the (then) new, young head teacher!  Over quite a short time, hard work and fund raising resulted in the waste ground on the Thwaite Road site being established and adopted as ‘play’ area and always popular with local families (and also with those who come from further afield). Over the years the equipment has been refurbished and added to, however those of you who currently use the play area will be aware that some of the equipment is now showing signs of age and the whole site would benefit from the introduction of some new and up to date pieces (especially for older children.) and this is why the Parish Council carried out its survey (February “Parishioner”) and why it is applying for grants.

In progressing this project the Council has sought proposals from four playground companies.  By the time you read this the plans will have been on show, the Council will have chosen its favoured project and we will be waiting for news on our grant application. This plan, with a total budget of some £35,000, looks to WREN as the major grant funder, with 3rd party funding from Ditchingham United Charities and South Norfolk’s Neighbourhood Grants panel, and with the Parish Council contributing some £3,000 from the precept.

While we must not ‘count our chickens’ we are optimistic that our grant application will be successful and that Ditchingham will once again have a modern safe play area to be proud of.

Highways Update: Regrettably last year’s surface dressing by NCC of roads in the village was not terribly successful. We have discussed the issue with NCC Highways who are aware of the problems but they are unable to rectify the situation until favourable weather conditions prevail [likely in the summer]. In the mean time if the loose chippings become particularly problematic please contact the Clerk and hopefully we can organise for NCC to include the problem area on their next mechanical sweeping round.

Hollow Hill. We can now confirm that NCC will improve ‘standard’ signage at Hollow Hill; work which hopefully will be completed in March!  Additionally, NCC has identified a match funding scheme that could allow this Council to erect some ‘intelligent’ speed initiated flashing sign These signs are hugely costly (around £7,500 each) and would normally be beyond the means of this Council, however the NCC scheme allows a 75% contribution towards costs with the Parish funding just 25% from its own resources… meaning that we could install a sign at a local cost of just £1,750. Something that we will be discussing at our next meeting.  

Chicken Roundabout: The Council discussed the roundabout at its January meeting concluding that it could not support the ‘campaign’ and has posted its official press release and a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on the Facebook page ‘Bungay UK Support Chicken Roundabout’.

Eastern River Valleys Neighbourhood Board: This forum is tasked with working with the Community to action community priorities and to help deliver community initiatives. The forum requires our ideas for improving the local area and you can help by coming to the next Neighbourhood Board meeting [Tuesday 5 March, 7:00 PM at Dining Hall, Hobart High School, Kittens Lane, Loddon, Norwich, NR14 6JU] or by contacting our Neighbourhood Officer” [Email: mbentley@s-norfolk.gov.uk Tel: 01508 533945]. Indeed the ERVNB contributed £5,000 grant funding to our Dip Project from their ‘Social Action’ fund… so thank you ERVNB!

Council Meetings and Dates: These are held in the Village Hall and the public are welcome to all of our meetings. While the public can not generally speak in the formal part of the meeting, our meetings include a public input forum before the commencement of main business. Those present can open discussion, question or challenge Councillors on matters on, or off, agenda. Please come along.

Council meetings are scheduled for the year ahead and advertised in the ‘Parishioner’ magazine and on the Council notice board. Our next scheduled meeting is at the Village Hall on 18 March 2013 at 19:30.

Julian Green.
Chair Ditchingham Parish Council

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