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Thetford councillors argue over contribution

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There was heated debate at Thetford Town Council’s meeting on July 30, after it was asked to contribute £10,000 a year for a new Greater Thetford Partnership officer.

The partnership, set up in 2015, aims to make the town and the area around it including Kilverstone, Brettenham and Croxton, a ‘destination of choice’, and the officer’s role will be to ‘Engage with local, regional and national stakeholders to promote the strategic vision of the board and champion Thetford as a place which offers business growth, employment and housing opportunities’.

The position has a reported £50,000 a year salary for two years, with Norfolk County Council and Breckland Council each giving £19,000 a year, Brettenham and Kilverstone Parish Council and Croxton Parish Council contributing £1,000 a year each with Thetford paying the remaining £10,000 a year.

The meeting in King's House, pictured, became very heated about the contribution.
The meeting in King's House, pictured, became very heated about the contribution.

Councillor Terry Jermy said: “The money that the parish councils have put up is 14 per cent of their budgets, if we did that it would be about £70,000 a year.”

“I feel if we are seen not to make a contribution and aren’t at the table we will not get the benefits.”

Some councillors had concerns including what Thetford would get for a higher contribution than the parish councils on the partnership’s board, as each council has two representatives on it and that some councillors were only given the vague job description of the role at this meeting and were being asked to make a decision there and then.

Cllr Janice Butler also asked: “Why is this post a two year plan, when councils and businesses run on a five or 10-year business plan? What will happen at the end of that? Will the role just finish or will we be asked to contribute again?”

The council voted nine to two in favour of having the role and agreed in principle to see if the finance committee could find money for the contribution, which could be taken from the council’s reserves, before presenting the options to the full council meeting on September 24, for a final vote.