'Not much for children' - Council debate how to invest in town

Dereham market place. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham market place. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

What’s good and bad about Dereham?

This was the question councillors considered at the annual parish meeting of Dereham Town Council on Thursday, in which members discussed how best to invest in the town's future.

It comes as Breckland District Council launches a new survey for residents as part of their ‘Future Breckland: Thriving People and Places’ project.

Consultants have been appointed to design “town delivery plans” for Dereham, Watton, Attleborough, Swaffham and Thetford.

Breckland council hopes that their recommendations will leave the district “in pole-position to leverage new external funding”.

Dereham mayor Linda Monument. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Councillor Linda Monument pointed out that the town is not as well configured as it could be. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Councillor Linda Monument got the ball rolling by pointing out that Dereham “has got most of the basics that people need for everyday life.”

“The only trouble is that they haven’t necessarily got them all in the right places,” she said.

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Councillors agreed that the town’s layout, bisected as it is by the A47 and lacking a ring-road, made managing traffic particularly difficult.

While the fast and regular bus links to Norwich were praised, councillor Thomas Monument said this benefit also had a downside

Dereham deputy mayor Thomas Monument. Picture: ARCHANT.

Councillor Thomas Monument said that it had become difficult to keep quality shops in Dereham - Credit: Archant

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“Transport links are almost too good, to good shops,” said Mr Monument.

“You can get straight into the middle of Norwich and shops in Dereham seem to have suffered.

“It’s very hard to get good shops to stay,” he added.

“One good shop pops up and people say, ‘I could go there, but I could go to Norwich where they all are, so why would I bother?’

“Something I’ve heard often is ‘It’s just charity shops and hairdressers, that’s what Dereham’s for. It’s a cheap place,’ and it’s a real shame. It’s a beautiful town,” said Mr Monument.

In addition, councillors agreed that Dereham urgently needed better youth provision.

Amy-Jane Brooks, Dereham town councillor. Picture: AMY-JANE BROOKS

Councillor Amy-Jane Brooks stressed the need for better youth services in the town - Credit: Archant

Councillor Amy-Jane Brooks said: “There’s not much for children in Dereham to do.

“If you’re not sporty, if you’re not into guide scouts or rainbows [girl-guiding], there’s not a lot else,” she added.

“They get a bad rap, some of the children just walking around town, but there’s nothing for them, so a youth centre would be amazing.”

Councillors will meet with the consultants next week to discuss the recommendations.

More information about the ‘Future Breckland’ project, and a link to the survey, can be found at: https://www.breckland.gov.uk/article/17138/Dereham

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