Dereham action group’s future in doubt

Dereham Market Place

Dereham Market Place - Credit: Archant

The future of a community group which has campaigned for improvements in Dereham for almost 40 years hangs in the balance.

Dereham Society will hold its annual general meeting at the end of this month and if the long-established organisation cannot attract more active members, it will fold.

Over the years, the society has taken up issues such as traffic, green spaces, community facilities, car parking and the volume of new housing.

News of its potential closure comes at a time when a sense of uncertainty surrounds the mid-Norfolk market town with the closure of a number of well-known stores, an increase in the number of empty shops, an influx of housing proposals and the development of out-of-town retail and dining destinations.

Chairman Philip Morton said: 'The society has reached a crossroads and really needs new members with fresh enthusiasm to approach issues facing the town.

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'The society was created to help raise the profile of the town by preserving and protecting aspects of the town such as buildings and green spaces.

'There is still an urgent need for an independent voice to safeguard green spaces from future housing development and other types of encroachment as pressure is exerted by central government for land to be freed up.

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'The success of the Mattishall Matters action group shows how effective local action can be, can this be replicated in Dereham when needed in areas presently not earmarked for development?

'The demise of the town centre where shops seem to close almost weekly, combined with uncertain developments in Norwich Street raise big question marks over what the centre will look like in the future.

'This is an issue across many market towns but if Dereham town centre is to thrive it needs a vision for the future which should involve an active dialogue with residents to determine what they want from the centre.

'The society has in the past and could in the future provide a forum for views to be discussed and plans put forward. However if there is no interest shown in the activity of the society at the AGM then the present committee will set out a schedule to close down the society and arrange for the funds to be dispersed to an agreed charity or similar organisation.

'The society has been looking after funds previously raised by the Neatherd Moor Preservation Society and similar arrangements will have to be made for the disposal of the money held for the Moor's Society by these developments.'

The society will hold its AGM on Thursday, February 26 at Dereham's library on High Street at 7.30pm.

It is not the first time the group has been on the brink of closure. Back in 2011 the society looked set to fold due to a lack of committee members but it was given a last-minute reprieve when townsfolk stepped into the breach and signed up for vacant roles.

For more information about the Dereham Society on the work it does and how to get involved, attend the AGM on February 26 or go to its website

Are you campaigning for improvements in Dereham? Email

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