Stalham Town Council has agreed to apply for a £250,000 loan to buy land which cost Norfolk County Council a fraction of the price.

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And the town council now plans to tackle the county about its payment terms, so that Stalham residents are spared sharp hikes in their council-tax bills to fund the deal.

The town wants control of the 1.55 acre (0.63 ha) Old Station Yard site, at the town’s western gateway, to stop the county selling it off to the highest-bidding developer who councillors fear would fill it with ugly high-density homes.

The county council bought the site in 1961 for £2,100.

But the bid has split councillors, with one group worried that a decision to go ahead and apply for a 15-year loan from the Public Works Loan Board would lead to future financial difficulties for the town council which has not yet drawn up any plans for the site.

During a stormy town council meeting yesterday night, members were told by clerk Judith Howes that the county council expected to be paid in full by September 2014.

But those councillors who had supported the purchase insisted that terms earlier agreed with the county had spread the payments over a longer period, extending into 2015. The town council needs the extra time to sell some of the land to help repay the loan.

Duncan Edmonds said the town council must go back and negotiate payment terms with the county: “Especially as they only paid £2,100 for the land in the first place.”

Dr Edmonds said he had discovered the original purchase price through a Freedom of Information Act inquiry. Today, the figure would be equivalent to just over £38,000.

Pauline Grove-Jones, chairman of the town council sub committee dealing with the purchase, said they planned to ask the people of Stalham what they wanted done with the land. There had been a lot of support among residents for the purchase.

Ivan Kidd said one man had suggested launching a public appeal and had offered to donate £500.

But Sheila Cullingham described the deal as reckless and speculative at a time of deep economic recession when people were facing difficult times.

The town council agreed that its precept for 2013-2014 should remain unchanged, at £50,000.

During the meeting Mrs Howes’ letter of resignation was read out. She will leave at the end of April after 29 years’ service as clerk.

11 comments

  • The County Council have no moral mandate to sell something to people to whom it already belongs. Wheels within wheels. Something stinks, here. How unusual for regional politics.

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    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Somebody has to pay for Coltishall!

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    windup

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

  • Well Police you clearly don't have the first clue about what goes on in Swanton Morley. If you have any evidence of these so called 'bungs' perhaps you should share them on here or write to the Clerk of Swanton Morley Parish Council with your concerns. I doubt though that you will. I've heard that they are a very hard working council who have achieved a great deal for Swanton Morley. There are a lot of parishes in Norfolk that could do a lot worse than follow their example. Don't be surprised if you make unfounded allegations and they take legal action. Be careful friend.

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    BigX

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • The people of Norfolk are beginning to question the medicine dished out by snake-oil salesmen like Borrett.The democratic deficit of Tory Norfolk is further apparent by this decision.The Big Conversation has gone the same way as The Big Society.Dead and buried.

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    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

  • So local Council Tax payers will fund it and R******s will profit in due course.

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    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

  • Well spoken Electra, this horse trading with council tax payers assets has got to stop. Who of us has voted for these party politicians to gazump already impoverished local councils? where is their mandate for such blatant abuse.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

  • Breckland love throwing money at Swanton Morley. It must be a great village to live in. Pity the rest of us BigX.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • You are being seriously had, people of Stalham. The County Council are the named owners of the property on behalf of the people of Norfolk - and what are you? I would suggest you insist your County Councillor negotiates a far far lower price with an overage agreement in place should you decide to develop the area and make a profit. The people of North Elmham have just made a similar mistake. They paid £90,000 for a small field for use as a playground. Their County Councillor Mr Borrett told them they had got a wonderful deal. No they hadn't. Shortly afterwards a neighbouring parish council were awarded £100,000 to develop their village hall. So in effect North Elmham's money went straight to a neighbouring parish with another £10,000 as the icing on top. Shame North Elmham didn't have someone to fight their corner. But then the other parish council has a really legendary tough leader who looks out for his parish and wont let the County Councillors walk over them. You need to get in touch with him. I cant remember his name but if you contact Swanton Morley Council I am sure they will point you in the right direction. You should also think of waiting until after May, get rid of your County Councillor, vote in someone who is actually interested in Stalham not in their political party and then you will be in a much better position to fight your corner.

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    Electra

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

  • Just imagine how much Coltishall council will have to pay NCC to prevent an incinerator on the old RAF base! They really are top speculators. Swanton Morley, tough negotiators? Never heard the old boy network called that. Lost count of the bungs they've had from Breckland.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

  • Well Police you clearly don't have the first clue about what goes on in Swanton Morley. If you have any evidence of these so called 'bungs' perhaps you should share them on here or write to the Clerk of Swanton Morley Parish Council with your concerns. I doubt though that you will. I've heard that they are a very hard working council who have achieved a great deal for Swanton Morley. There are a lot of parishes in Norfolk that could do a lot worse than follow their example. Don't be surprised if you make unfounded allegations and they take legal action. Be careful friend.

    Report this comment

    BigX

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

  • I wonder if any local private companies might become profitably involved in the future development of this site? One in particular springs to mind, but in these litigious times I`ll keep my own counsel. Suffice to say, the ones I have in mind seem to be able to do whatever they like round these parts.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Thursday, January 17, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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