• FAQs about the Fletcher Room public consultation

    Updated 1 May

    Following a number of comments and questions from launching the public consultation about the loan for the Fletcher Room replacement project, we have some FAQs below;

     

    Why does the Parish Council provide a Pre-School?

    The Parish Council does not provide the Pre-School, and does not have a duty to provide childcare. The Parish Council owns the Fletcher Room (on leased land from Norfolk County Council), and hires it to Acle Pre-School, which is a completely separate charity and is run by that Charity’s committee.

     

    What is the land situation?

    Acle Parish Council, through Acle Borderland Trust, leases the land from Norfolk County Council. The current lease runs out in 2026, however NCC have already agreed to a further 25 year lease, and we are currently in negotiations on terms.

     

    What is Acle Borderland Trust?

    Acle Borderland Trust is a registered Charity, of which Acle Parish Council and The Clerk to the Parish Council are trustees. This was set up in 1996 as the mechanism to manage some of the Parish Council’s assets.

     

    Why does the building cost so much?

    The project cost estimate of maximum £350,000 is not just the building itself, it includes planning costs, demolition, ground works which will include some levelling due to the nature of the land, additional connection of services (pipework etc), and a larger 2 room building.

     

    Who is completing the build?

    The contract will go out to formal tender (which is where businesses bid for a contract), therefore no contractor has been appointed yet. All bids will be reviewed and the contractor decided on by the Parish Council.

     

    What reserves do you have for this project?

    There is just over £50,000 in reserves specifically for the Fletcher Room replacement.

     

    Why are there not more reserves/Why isn’t the Parish Council able to fund the entire project?

    The original Fletcher Room cost £100,000 when it was built. The Parish Council was putting money into earmarked reserves each year, but given the effect of unexpectedly high inflation and change to building materials we were not prepared for the projected cost for the replacement we have been given this year. A few years ago we were told that a brick-built building would cost about £300,000, and that a replacement modular building would cost about £180,000 – £200,000 at that time, but we are now being told that it might cost over £300,000. The Parish Council had funds at that time, so the councillors felt that this was achievable. The income for the Parish Council has decreased over the past few years as the Parish Council’s share of Community Infrastructure Levy from the new houses has reduced from £136,733 (22/23), to £21,716 (23/24) to £nil 24/25. However, the income from the rents at the Folly Tree House and the Chocolate Box is now coming on stream, and is expected to be about £38,000 in 24/25, which is great news, but the cost of the refurbishment of the Folly Tree House and Chocolate Box buildings buildings used up all the capital reserves, and there were significant legal costs in setting up the leases for the Folly Tree House tenants.

    All accounts are on our website, including what CIL money has been spent on. The 23/24 accounts will be available in May.

     

    Why do you know the amount of a loan if you talk about grants?

    We are very hopeful of securing significant grants for this project, however if we are unsuccessful in obtaining any then the loan could reach the stated £300,000. We needed to present this worst case scenario to the public in the consultation, which is why it was stated as “up to £300,000”

     

    Why can’t you get grants first, then consult about the loan?

    All grants require a specific monetary request, proof of project cost, and evidence of how the project will be financed by other funding streams. That means we have to go to tender first to pick a contractor and get a cost, however that would be a waste of time and public money if the residents of Acle do not support a loan. Most grants also have to be spent within a one year period, and with a build in Summer 2025 any grant agreement would not be used within timeframe, and often cannot reapply to the same provider within a set period

    Unfortunately unless we know we will be able to fund the project solely from the loan, in the unlikely event that we are unsuccessful in all grant applications, we cannot proceed.

     

    How do you know the repayments per year?

    This was to give a realistic monetary amount to residents as part of the public consultation. Any grant amount will reduce the total loan needed, and therefore will reduce the number of years of paying back the loan. The quoted example of a figure of £17.15 per year per Band D property is the exemplar, this does not mean that every property will pay that amount, as all properties are different bands for Council Tax, including for the Parish Council Precept – a B band property would pay less and a E band property would pay more.

     

    What consultation is being done?

    A consultation document has been delivered to every property within the boundaries of Acle Parish Council, the information is on our website and Facebook page. All Parish Council meetings are open to the public, and residents are always welcome to ask questions at the beginning of each meeting. There are physical paper voting slips and an online option, to cater for all.

    Why are there 2 very similar questions on the consultation paper?

    The PWLB prescribe that these specific questions are part of public consultation, therefore these are the government mandated questions we have to ask.

     

    Once the loan is repaid, will the precept reduce?

    The loan payments will be removed from the precept once fully paid, however we cannot predict what other costs there may be, for other parish services and assets, at any future time.

     

    Is there a minimum return rate to make a decision?

    As per all democratic decisions, it is the majority of those who have chosen to respond. The Public Works Loan Board process requires that the Council “show community support” for the project and for the loan. The councillors agreed that a positive response of 50% of the replies, plus one more person, would indicate support.

     

    Why are you not spending money on the roads, which are in a poor state?

    Highways comes under Norfolk County Council’s jurisdiction and the Parish Council is not the responsible authority for maintaining the road system. The Parish Council has been in communication with Norfolk County Council to establish an estimated date for resurfacing works. We have been informed that work on resurfacing the main roads in the village is scheduled for this financial year and they are hopeful to commence work in Summer 2024

  • Public Consultation. Taking a loan to replace The Fletcher Room

    The Fletcher Room is the community building on Fletcher Way, next to the Primary School. It is owned by Acle Parish Council and the main hirer is Acle Pre-School. The building has been in place since 2001, and is coming towards the end of its lifespan.

    Acle Parish Council would like to replace the current building with a larger 2 room community building. Out of school hours this community building will be available for hire to others. Having taken some guidance from contractors prior to formal tender, renewal costs for the building and associated works could reach £350,000.

    Acle Parish Council does not currently have sufficient reserves to fund this project, and therefore we are looking into a loan of up to £300,000. With an annual repayment of approximately £20,000, this would be a cost of about £17.15, per year, for an average Band D household. This works out as 33 pence per week.

    We are expecting to reduce the loan amount with grants, there are many available for this type of project and we will be applying for all that we may be eligible for. We will also reuse, where we can, current fixtures like the lights and fire systems. Any grants and cost savings will reduce the number of years of loan repayments.

    If the loan is not supported by the residents of Acle, we cannot apply for this, and therefore the project will not be able to happen at this time.

    There is a paper copy of the above information being delivered to every property in Acle over the next week, with a paper reply slip and details of where to return this should you prefer paper over electronic option. The electronic option for return is via this google form link https://forms.gle/rzBT16WwrEFdDRfE9 which is now open to responses.

    One response per household as the precept is per household. If more than one response is received the first response will be taken as the counted vote. Name & address are required to ensure response is from residents of Acle Parish Council area, and we will compare to the electoral roll.

    Deadline for responses is 12th May 2024

     

  • Fletcher Rooms – repairs completed

    Following inspection findings of Acle Parish Council and reports from the hirer, Acle Pre-School, there were repairs completed in the February half term to the Fletcher Rooms. These included structural, electrical and cosmetic works, such as;

    Updated smoke alarms, heat alarms and emergency lighting

    New ceiling board installed that was previously temporarily repaired in the main room.

    Replacement of finger guards on the front and lobby doors

    2 replacement LED strip lights as previous units were not working

    Replacement of the kickboards under the sink in the main wet area

    Removal of storage heaters that had become obsolete given the newer heating/cooling system put in place a couple of years ago

  • Fletcher Rooms Replacement – Process

    Background information;

    The Parish Council are actively looking into options for the replacement of the Fletcher Room Building.  The Parish Council has approached a number of contractors to get an idea of the cost for a new building, both for hire and for purchase. This cost came in higher than previously expected. The Parish Council prepared its budget in December, and it was at this point that it became apparent there would not be enough money in the Parish reserves to fund the build. As a result the Parish Council have reviewed alternative options of available grants and a government loan; however, both these processes will add a significant amount of time to the project. Initially it was hoped the build could be achieved by Summer 2024 but due to having to fund the project with alternative provisions this will not be possible. It was presented to the Pre-School with options to complete a build during term time, where they would need to relocate or close for at least half a term, or to have the build in Summer 2025, the latter is the preferred option.

    Upon discussion with the Pre-School, there were a number of issues raised about the building that could be improved, to ensure the next 18 months is as safe as possible and attractive for any hirers, repairs are booked for the Fletcher Rooms during the February half term holidays.

     

    Processes that need to take place for the replacement building to happen;

    Lease – Norfolk County Council own the land, and the Parish Council lease this land from them. This lease is due to end in 2026. To be able to apply for funding (loan and most grants), there needs to be minimum of 10 years left on the lease, therefore a lease renewal must be completed before the respective funding routes can be applied for. 

    Planning – Broadland District Council have confirmed that the new building does need planning permission, and again this is a term of applying for funding that at least Outline Planning consent is in place. 

    Both the lease renewal and the planning application steps have been started already and are being worked on concurrently, and we expect these to take around 3 months.

    Funding – To apply for a Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) loan that is available to Town & Parish Councils. Public consultation has to take place, and this must last for minimum of 1 month. The application to decision stage is currently stated as 3 months. The majority of grants that the Parish Council will be applying for to reduce the loan amount are only considered on a quarterly basis, or 3 times a year, and therefore again this process will take some time.

    Tender – due to the cost of this project, we will have to put the contract out to tender, and after the deadline for applications the Council will need to consider all the designs and costs that come in to make a decision.

    Full planning permission will need to be completed with the full agreed design.

    The build itself will likely take around 8-10 weeks.

  • The Fletcher Rooms – Structural Engineer Report

    The report from the Structural Engineer who completed a check on the Fletcher Rooms in November 2023

    Fletcher Rooms report
  • The Fletcher Rooms

    The Fletcher Rooms is a community building on Fletcher Way. A lot of residents will know this as Acle Pre-School, who hire the building during the day in term time.

    Acle Parish Council lease the land from Norfolk County Council, and own the building. The Parish Council are looking at the possibilities of replacing the current 1 classroom modular building for a slightly larger 2 classroom type building. There are many steps that this process requires, and this webpage will be updated regularly.

Cookies For Comments Image