Residents living in Breckland are being encouraged to help make the district a little brighter this spring by participating in an exciting initiative.

The Big Spring Clean, run by Breckland Council, is a new scheme which aims to get volunteers from across Breckland creating their own tidy-up projects to help improve their communities.

To support the scheme, Breckland has made a £4,000 grant pot available and is now inviting groups to submit bids of up to £200, which can be used to buy any necessary equipment for their projects.

The Big Spring Clean has five key themes and proposed projects should cover at least one of these: Planting; Painting; Wildlife; Litter; and Graffiti.

“We hope this new initiative will help bring residents together and enable them to deliver a project which makes a difference to them and their communities,” said Cllr Lynda Turner.

“We’ve outlined five key Big Spring Clean themes and I’m sure people will have lots of ideas for projects. The broad themes could incorporate a range of projects, from planting flowerbeds in communal areas, giving a community building a fresh lick of paint, installing bird boxes, or tackling a local litter or graffiti problem.”

The funding is available to help people to deliver their projects, such as purchasing equipment and supplies, however applicants are encouraged, wherever possible, to make their schemes sustainable and demonstrate how it can be run in the future too. Their schemes must also be delivered by volunteers and should not duplicate existing services.

For more information about the initiative and how to apply for funding, go to Alternatively, email or call 01362 656219. Funding bids must be received by Sunday 29th March and schemes should be delivered between 30th March and 10th May.




Kicked off last night by attending and giving a short presentation to prospective Town, Parish and District councillors. A good number had gathered at Elizabeth House in Dereham, and I got to speak to a lot of them prior to the meeting. Most seemed veery keen and able. several had been attending parish councils in their villages for years and I have to say I am hopeful for the future of local democracy from these people.

Apart from my little stash of anecdotes here is the advice I gave to all who want to stand. This was pointed mainly at District candidates as others spoke for Parish and Town but the principles are the same


My advice

  • Know why you want to stand – and I hope that includes representing the people
  • Be aware of the time needed – as a typical rural ward member you will represent about 2,500 voters, have 4-5 parish meetings to attend each month and be on 1-2 committees or panels in Breckland which meet about every 6-8 weeks plus the full council approximately  every 6 weeks. Allow 2-4 hours reading for each Breckland meeting and a bit less for the parish meetings.  That is minimum
  • thats about 4-6 hours per week for which you get the basic allowance
  • You then can belong to an ‘outside body’ for me thats a Drainage Board, very interesting but optional and you are appointed, but if you have an interest its very good
  • You may be appointed chairman of a committee or other post, but these are all optional, it depends on your interests, abilities and commitment. They all take more time and effort but most do attract a special responsibility allowance
  • if you intend to make this an early step in a political career its a very good step, work hard and you will learn a lot
  • remember Job #1 represent your ward at Breckland – Job #2 represent Breckland in your ward

After this attended two parish meetings, well tried to at least. Did Sparham but by the time I got to Bawdeswell they had shut up shop, so emailed the Vice Chairman who was taking last nights meeting and will deal with any matters arising later. Hope they understand



Had a good time visiting today – Weekend visitings mean I get to speak to people on their gardens or working on the car so did not deliver so many leaflets but was able to give some advice and take up a case for one person. Avery worthwhile few hours.

I also met Paul the fundraiser for Thats Norfolk Accident and Emergency Services. If you travel our roads a bit you will have seen the equipped cars heading to accidents and disasters across the county. Manned by qualified volunteers and entirely funded by donations. You can get involved by becoming a supporter.

Interestingly when I got home today I heard on the news that they had been involved in helping at a serious accident in West Norfolk




Spent pleasant morning at the Hockering Church Coffee morning in the village hall. Its good to meet and chat with neighbours and see a few villagers I did not recognise. Quite a few conversations and sharing remembrances of the 1940/50′s and of the day in Feb 1971 when we turned our back on over 100 years of Sterling currency.

As someone who occasionally deals in coins its always interesting how much nostalgia there is for the ‘old’ money. It is also a constant delight to see how children are fascinated with the look and feel of real money

Quite a few political conversations and two people signed my assent to nomination papers for the coming election in May. Hockering will now be in my ward after the boundary changes imposed on much of Breckland last year. caught up with one presiding officer for  the elections and had a good discussion on just who might be the winner?!?!@@


That Breckland District Council Tax is the lowest district tax in the country……………….

That a Band D property pays less that £65 for a full years service thats Planning, Bins, Benefits, Street Cleaning, Grass Cutting etc etc………

That for every £1 we charge you we return £7 in benefits and service – almost £420 for every home in the district……….

That Breckland gain as much in rents from property as we gain in Council Tax…………

That Breckland still has a fund for supporting local projects of all types giving millions back to the community…………..

That we now have a fund to support neighbourhood plans with a top up grant of 50% up to £4000 per community………..

I am proud to have been a Breckland Councillor for 12 years whilst all this has been happening, and to have been part of some of it. I am standing in May for re-election and hope to serve another 4 years supporting our community in

The New Upper Wensum Ward consisting of the villages of

Bawdeswell – Billingford – Bintree – Brisley – Bylaugh – Elsing – Foxley – Gateley – Guist

Hockering -Lyng – North Elmham – Sparham – Twyford

It has always been my policy to attend as many village functions as possible. I get to most parish council meetings in my current Ward and will do so in the new ward. I also do something within the ward almost every Saturday so if you have events then let me know, its mostly on a first come first served basis.

If you have matters of concern, or just want to quiz a local politician, then I am happy to attend house meetings – you gather a few neighbours together on a Saturday or an agreed evening and provide a cup of tea/coffee, I will bring biscuits and we can discuss – any topic. If I cannot give answers there and then I will get back to you. Done this a lot and find about 8-12 is a good number but will work out to suit you.

This is not electioneering, if I am elected in May it will continue to be available for all the four years, as it was for last four




Breckland Council today froze its Council Tax charge for another year and committed new support to help local communities looking to produce Neighbourhood Plans.

“I’m proud that our residents already pay the lowest district council tax in the country and that, through sound management of our finances, we are in a position once more to  freeze our council tax charge for the year ahead,” says Leader of Breckland Council, Michael Wassell.  (you will have seen my earlier comments on this)

“As a result of the council’s sound investment strategy over the last decade we are now in a strong position with revenue income. This means we don’t have to rely so heavily on taxing residents and means we can make the most of opportunities to bring about further improvements for local people.”

Breckland’s pioneering investment scheme means the council now receives almost as much income from investment assets as it does from the council tax paid by residents.

This strong position means that at the meeting today Leader of Breckland Council Cllr Michael Wassell was able to announce financial support for communities working on new Neighbourhood Plans. Cllr Wassell told the meeting “Neighbourhood Plans are one of the ways residents can influence and guide the development of their areas. Producing one of these plans can be a complicated and potentially expensive task and I am delighted we have found funding to help local communities with this work. Having a plan may not be right for all communities but, where they are, then I want to see us helping wherever we can.”

At the meeting, Executive Members reported on forthcoming developments in their Portfolios. For my portfolio I was able to emphasise that we are now accepting electronic payments and that this is expanding. I also spoke about the way technology is helping officers to do their job better and make efficiency savings which are transferred into a better service for citizens

Commitment to housing was highlighted a number of times at the meeting and Cllr Elizabeth Gould, Breckland Council Executive Member for Planning, Building Control and Housing, reported that the Council is in discussions with a Registered Social Landlord and, at the 24 March Cabinet meeting, Executive Members will be discussing an exciting opportunity that will provide more affordable homes for the district.



Spent time in BRISLEY today Door to door through entire village with a leaflet at every house, I think. It was good to canvas with Bill Borrett and this was the first time we have been out together. We will bot visit all 15 villages in the new Upper Wensum Ward for Breckland in March and then again during the campaign proper during April and Early May. We will also be out and about with George Freeman MP who is standing again for the Mid Norfolk Constituency.

Had a number of useful conversations with folk who will vote for us and some who may not. For us this was the first day of the 2015 c pre-campaign. I am looking forward to doing some mere visits in the spring as there are some beautiful areas in this spread out village with a huge green, Pity the pub was closed. Will be attending the Parish Council meeting next Wednesday which will be one of four PC’s next week.

One thing which came up in our conversations was ‘local issues’ If any person in any of the villages has a real issue then one or both of us will be happy to visit you in your home, or elsewhere in the village and discuss it with you and your neighbours. Get a small group, say a dozen or so, provide a cup of tea, I will bring the biscuits and  over an hour on an evening or weekend we can hopefully resolve matters. Certainly we can advise on ways forward.

Bill and I have been Breckland Councillors for many years and have lots of experience in getting to the bottom of complaints and producing solutions



The Breckland Corporate Plan,

Want to know what we are planning for the next four years then go to Breckland District Council  website and find out how well be have done in the last four years and our new plans for the next.

Copies will be available for those without internet connection


Breckland Council’s investments are helping to keep the council tax low, while allowing the council to support non-statutory services that benefit residents and local businesses.

“I’m proud that our residents pay the lowest district council tax in the country and that through sound management of finances we are in position to propose another freeze for the year ahead,”

“As a result of the council’s sound investment strategy over the last decade we are now in a strong position with revenue income. This means we don’t have to rely so heavily on taxing residents and means we can make the most of opportunities to bring about further improvements for local people.”

At this week’s Council meeting on Thursday 26 February, Breckland councillors will consider and approve the budget for 2015-16, and discuss the council’s strong financial position for 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19. Members will also discuss how the benefits gained from the Council’s successful investment strategy will be used to benefit the district over the coming year.

Thanks to Breckland’s pioneering investment scheme, the council now receives almost as much income from its assets as it does from the council tax paid by residents. Breckland’s current assets include buildings and plots of land across the district.

Investment revenue now brings in around £2.6m per year, compared to £2.7m from council tax. Together with the Council’s ongoing efficiency programme, this is a key factor in enabling Breckland to keep council tax as low as possible. Breckland’s total revenue budget is around £67m.

“The funds we generate from our investments help us keep people’s bills low and also enable us to support services and projects which while not legally required are of vital importance to our communities. These include leisure and sport facilities, community activities and grants, and key infrastructure improvements such as broadband connectivity for homes and businesses.

“In simple terms, if Breckland hadn’t invested so wisely over the last few years and implemented a long-term efficiencies programme at an early stage, we’d probably now be looking to raise council tax or cut back on what we can offer people. I’m delighted that we have been able to create this strong position, which is great news for our residents.”



Breckland Council is considering new help for communities wanting to develop Neighbourhood Plans which give residents a greater say over the future of their local area.

 Speaking in advance of this week’s Cabinet and Council meetings Council Leader Michael Wassell announced proposals for the new initiative to help local communities.  “Neighbourhood Plans are one of the ways residents can influence and guide the development of their areas. Producing one of these plans can be a complicated and potentially expensive task and I am delighted we have found funding which means we can table proposals to help local communities with this work.”Neighbourhood Plans give local people a greater say over how land in their area is used for residential, leisure and business use. Once adopted they will help inform planning decisions in the community area, and must conform with planning policies and guidance.

 Community groups can bid directly to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for up to £8,000 of basic grant. Under the council’s proposal Breckland groups successfully awarded funding by DCLG could be eligible for further funding from Breckland Council. The funding from Breckland will help communities develop their plans, work which can be costly because it involves extensive research and evidence gathering, consultations with residents and businesses, and drafting of planning policies and site assessments.Cllr Wassell added: “If agreed by Council then I, with my fellow councillors, will be encouraging applications from local communities interested in finding out more about the value of Neighbourhood Plans. Having a plan may not be right for all communities but where they are then I’d like to see us providing support where we can.”


The views expressed on this website are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Conservative Councillors' Association or the Conservative Party.