Hard work and village spirit at Mulbarton shift council tax downwards

Volunteers at The Meadows playground in Mulbarton. From left, Peter Leigh, Steve Sewell, Derel Aldou

Volunteers at The Meadows playground in Mulbarton. From left, Peter Leigh, Steve Sewell, Derel Aldous, Richard Tucker and Adam Banham. Picture: STUART ANDERSON - Credit: Archant

In a time of tightening budgets, local authorities hiking up their council tax to pass on more of the cost to residents has become not only a regular, but an expected burden.

But one parish council, at least, has found a way to buck that trend, thanks to a mix of careful spending, community spirit and good, old-fashioned elbow grease.

Mulbarton Parish Council has, in fact, just decided to reduce its precept on the council tax bill by 5pc for the 2017/18 year.

Peter Leigh, council chairman, said: 'We have achieved this by reviewing all our existing contracts, maximising the return from third parties and councillors volunteering to do a lot of routine maintenance work.

'There are only six of us on the council, but we all get stuck into it.


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'We also operate as a team which is very important to me.'

The reduction means the precept paid for a Band D property will go down to £39.22 for the year - it has stood at £41.29 since 2014.

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Mr Leigh said: 'That's despite the grant from South Norfolk going down by two thirds, from £3,773 in 2014 to £1,226 in 2017'.

He said they could have reduced the precept even further, but that might have left them in trouble later in the year if any unexpected expenses came up.

As an example of the volunteer work that made the drop possible, councillors recently turned out to dismantle some play equipment at the Meadows, off Cuckoofield Lane, so it could be sent off for refurbishment.

Other projects they've undertaken themselves include refurbishing the village sign and installing a solar panel on it, putting in allotments and fixing a raised platform at the play area.

Mr Leigh said they were careful not to exceed their abilities, and when professional contractors were needed for a job they were duly brought in.

He said: 'We don't do anything daft, and it's all got to be certified by an independent authority.

'All our contracts are managed directly by the councillors, which saves on external third party costs.'

Mr Leigh said the Meadows playground and nearby garden, which was also volunteer built, showed how Mulbarton was becoming a more attractive place to live.

In recent years, the village has seen the addition of a skate park and Blakey's Bus Cafe, located in a 1956 double decker.

What do you think? Email your letters to DMALetters@archant.co.uk

Have you got a story about something happening in your community? Email reporter Stuart Anderson at stuart.anderson@archant.co.uk or call him on 01603 772588

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