Pledge to improve services in Attleborough

Council leaders have vowed to work together with local campaigners to get improved services in Attleborough before thousands of new homes are built in the town.

And Breckland has also promised to write to the government to prevent 'ad hoc' developments being approved.

More than 3,300 people signed a petition organised by an independent forum called the Attleborough Community Team (ACT) demanding that new infrastructure is put in place ahead of building of up to 4,500 homes. The signatures were handed in to Breckland and the size of the petition forced Breckland's full council to debate the issue.

ACT chairman group captain Richard Middleton said local people wanted sustainable development and improvements to services such as leisure, health and transport.

He said the proposed new homes would 'overwhelm' the town and surrounding communities.

Mr Middleton said since 2001 more than 600 homes had been built or approved without any 'meaningful contributions' to the infrastructure in the town.

He said the group wanted a commitment that shortfalls in infrastucture are addressed before more houses are built, the town had to be planned for existing residents and there had to be proper consultation over future proposals.

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Mr Middleton said ACT had to be recognised as a stakeholder. 'We have shown that the community wants problems solved before any new developments take place.'

He said there was congestion in the town centre as the schools were all in the north-east of Attleborough and the surgery was also 'chock-a-block.' Mr Middleton added: 'Attleborough has the infrastructure of a big village but there will be 20,000 people living there when the developments are complete.'

Breckland's full council unanimously supported ACT's aims, agreed for the group to be a consultee, supported writing to the government to prevent ad hoc developments and to lobby over educational provision for Attleborough.

Deputy leader Adrian Stasiak said: 'We are committed to further consultation' and agreed a member of ACT should be on the task force planning Attleborough's future.'

? Breckland Council will maintain the lowest council tax for any district in the country – and an extra �200,000 grant from the government will mean it can avoid dipping into reserves to freeze what it charges local people.

The authority's full council yesterday confirmed its tax for 2011/12 and the average band D household will be charged �64.05 for Breckland services.

The overall bill will also include county council, town and parish and police authority charges,

Conservative Bill Borrett said Breckland had the lowest council tax for a district in the country.

But Labour group leader Robin Goreham said central government had made councils a 'scapegoat' and had cut 'too quickly and too deeply.'

'Authorities all over the country are having to deal with meagre government settlements and drastic reductions in their service budgets – and the Breckland part of Norfolk has not escaped this purge.'

ian.clarke@archant.co.uk