Review that found just 10 people in favour of creating a Queen’s Hills parish council cost taxpayers £3.5k

Queens Hill, Costessey. Picture: Mike Page

Queens Hill, Costessey. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

A call for a new Queen's Hills parish council cost taxpayers more than £3,500, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed.

The housing estate's residents' association triggered the community governance review process last year, asking to split from the existing Costessey Town Council.

It collected around 250 signatures on a petition supporting this call.

But a first round of consultation found just 10 residents in favour of a new parish council, and only 71 Costessey residents took part in a second round of consultation – less than 1pc of the current electorate of Costessey, which is 10,607.

Tim East, chairman of Costessey Town Council, said three requests were made to the residents' association to defer the request, meaning it could be linked up with the district-wide review in 2017 at no extra cost, but they pressed ahead.

An FOI to South Norfolk Council, which administered the review, found the exercise took up 105 hours of officer time and cost the taxpayer £3,689.81.

This comprised £3,186.86 in staff time, £56.40 in printing costs, £45.60 in return postage, £23.40 in officer travel and £377.55 in member travel.

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'If the three separate requests made to the residents association to defer their review application until next year had been agreed by them then this £3,689.81 expense would have been saved and absorbed into the budget already set-aside for that purpose in next years' planned district council wide boundary review,' said Mr East.

He added that the figures made 'a nonsense' of false claims made on a Queens Hills Facebook page that the town council spent £10,000 on trying to preserve existing Costessey boundaries.

The governance review ultimately rejected the creation of a Queens Hills parish council in favour of a new Queens Hills ward on Costessey Town Council.

A spokesman for the residents association defended the cost of the review.

'Considering Queen's Hills generates more than £2.5m in council tax revenue a year, is Tim East really quibbling over less than 0.02% of total expenditure?' the spokesman said. 'The residents' association simply facilitated the handing in of a petition signed by hundreds of residents requesting a review.

'It was the will of the residents that triggered the review; not the residents' association.'

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