Parishes across Norfolk have got the opportunity to secure funding for small highway improvements as part of a Norfolk County Council initiative, which will be repeated next year.

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The county council’s Parish Partnerships project will continue for the financial year 2013/14 after a £100,000 pot was set aside to pay for parish and town council initiatives across the county, such as new paths, Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) and disabled access for bus stops.

During the current financial year (2012/13), the county council has provided funding for 32 projects submitted by town and parish councils. The scheme works by providing a financial sum which is then matched by the bidding parish or town council.

One example is a Bunwell Parish Council project for VAS on the busy B1113 road through the village, close to the village hall and a new path through the village, where the county council provided £13,000 which was then matched with £13,000 from the parish council and South Norfolk Council combined.

Graham Plant, the county council’s cabinet member for planning and transportation, visited the Bunwell scheme on Thursday along with police officers, pupils from the village primary school and dignitaries including Bunwell parish councillors John Pennell and parish council chairman William Easton.

He saw the VAS in action, which have been installed to provide a safe crossing point for pedestrians and to warn motorists to slow down. The signs are fitted with sensors which detect when a pedestrian is approaching and warn drivers to slow down, but can also be activated by passing traffic to provide flashing speed limit warnings.

Mr Plant also visited the 400m long path, known as a trod, which runs alongside the B1113 and is a loose finished path rather than an asphalt path.

The trod has been created to make it easy for churchgoers in the village to get to church and for children to get to Bunwell Primary School in the Old Turnpike so they do not have to be driven in by their parents.

Mr Pennell said the parish council hoped to secure extra funding to be able to extend the trod as far as Tacolneston, possibly from the Parish Partnerships scheme.

He added: “It is just a really good example of all levels of local authorities working together to achieve a common aim. We have noticed when we have been out with the children that drivers take notice of the warning signs.”

Michaela Rolph, headteacher at Bunwell Primary School, said the VAS had made it easier for children from the school to cross the road to the village hall where they do sports including gymnastics and speed dancing.

She added: “Everybody has come together to achieve something great for the village and for the school.”

Mr Plant said: “The initiative has proved an outstanding success in delivering small-scale improvements that are a high priority for local communities.

“Parish and town councils know where such opportunities exist, and, at a time when money is extremely tight, the county council can gain real value for money by working with local councils.

“I am delighted to announce the Parish Partnerships initiative will be repeated for 2013/14 and look forward to receiving another round of bids for assessment, with an announcement on successful bids in the spring.”

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