Taxpayers could be left with £100,000 bill to repair church-owned wall
PUBLISHED: 16:00 11 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:22 12 November 2018
Taxpayers could be left with a £100,000 bill to repair a church-owned wall that collapsed in Thorpe St Andrew.
The wall, which is within the church yard of Thorpe St Andrew Parish Church on Yarmouth Road, collapsed overnight in March this year.
Despite the Diocese of Norwich owning the land, the church council has used legislation to pass the repair costs to Thorpe St Andrew Town Council.
That means taxpayers - rather than the church - will have to pay for any repairs, which town clerk Thomas Foreman warned could cost up to £100,000.
He said: “As town clerk, my recommendation to councillors is that the cost and liability is too high for the [town] council.
“It would be in the region of 25pc of our total annual precept.
“So in the same way the church can serve notice on the town council to take on the church yard, we can then pass it on to the district council.”
The issue will be discussed at a full council meeting tonight, where Mr Foreman will recommend councillors ask Broadland District Council to take responsibility.
Town mayor John Fisher said the move will still result in taxpayers having to pay the costs. However, it will be spread out across the district, rather than just those in Thorpe St Andrew.
Mr Foreman said repair estimates put the price between £25,000 for a temporary fix, to £100,000 for a long-term solution.
However, a report which will go before councillors states the diocesan chancellor will ultimately decide on what option is taken.
The report said: “It cannot be relied upon that the restricted funds of the local authority will be a factor in the decision.”
Thorpe St Andrew rector, the Rev James Stewart, said the church had already started an emergency wall fund, which stood at £8,000.
He said the church was unable to carry out a large-scale targeted fundraising drive as it is still unclear as to whether the insurance will pay for the repairs.
He said: “We are awaiting a final decision [from insurers].
“We have agonised over this because we have a very good relationship with the town council and this has been a difficult decision.
“The parish is wishing for the most cost effective solution and I will press that in relation to any application made.”