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Council faces a £200k bill for essential works

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Diss Town Council is facing a major headache next year as it seeks to tackle four major maintenance projects which could cost about £200,000.

Visitors to Diss Mere cannot fail to notice that part of Madgett’s Walk, which links Mere’s Mouth with Diss Park, has fallen away.

The whole walkway is likely to need replacing.

It was built about ten years ago, but its foundations were not adequate for the silty conditions below, causing the current collapse.

That project is likely to be tackled alongside a renewing of the Mere drainage, which takes water away, under the Co-op car park, and out into the Waveney.

The drains are collapsing, causing the Mere water level to rise during wetter periods.

Another project is the rebuilding of the St Mary’s Church walls on the west and south side.

Under the 1972 Local Government Act, Diss Town Council is responsible for the walls, because the churchyard is closed for burials. It is not responsible for the maintenance of the church itself.

And finally, the deteriorating roads at the town cemetery are now in need of repair.

Clerk Deborah Sarson said that the council would have to take a loan from the Government’s Public Works Loan Board, as the money is not available upfront. Although the interest rates are good, it would still represent a significant burden of annual repayments.

Added to that is the reduction in its Government grant of nearly £20,000 for the next financial year. The grant is paid to top-up money lost to councils from those receiving council tax benefit, but the pot of money is shrinking each year.

As reported previously in the Diss Express, the town council has earmarked that its portion of the council tax bill, called the precept, will increase by up to 5.7 per cent in the next financial year, an increase of £8 for a ‘Band D’ taxpayer.

Councillors decided they needed to strike a balance between safeguarding services, and minimising costs to already hard-pressed tax payers.

Mayor Neil Howard said: “We are faced with very challenging circumstances which are mostly out of our control.

“Difficult decisions need to be made in the coming months but we wish to remain a service focused organisation.”

 

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