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Cut is a kick in the teeth

PUBLISHED: 09:44 02 January 2009 | UPDATED: 07:53 01 August 2010

WORLINGHAM Parish Council has sparked controversy after deciding to withdraw its funding for its local community news magazine - and raise the precept by 70pc.

WORLINGHAM Parish Council has sparked controversy after deciding to withdraw its funding for its local community news magazine - and raise the precept by 70pc.

At a meeting in December the council decided that it would no longer provide financial support to the Worlingham, North Cove and Barnby Community News magazine, and that it would increase the precept from £17,000 to £29,670.

Whilst residents have been left seething, the parish council has been quick to defend the decision, saying that the precept had to be raised in order to fund community projects over the next few years, as well as pay for others already in motion.

They also said that they could not afford to meet the £3,000 requested by the magazine, after contributing generously in the past, and that there will be other projects in Worlingham in need of the money.

In his notes in the WNCB community news, editor Nigel Turner denounced the precept rise and said that the magazine's future could not be secured past February and March as a result of the withdrawing of funds. He writes: “I find this a real kick in the teeth for me and all those people who have helped in all sorts of ways.”

Meanwhile Michael Venn, a resident of Worlingham and reader of the WNCB, said that he could not believe the precept was going up “in this age of economic restraint.” He added that it would be disastrous if the magazine was to be stopped: “There's lots of local adverts in there for local people trying to get business, and they do get business from it. There's articles in there for all sorts of people. It basically holds the whole area together.”

However Michael Culyer, chairman of Worlingham Parish Council, said that, of the three parishes that the magazine serves, Worlingham have contributed the most money over the past three years and that they could no longer sustain this involvement.

Since 2005 Worlingham Parish Council has contributed £6,000, compared with £425 from Barnby and £225 from North Cove.

He said: “As the magazine is provided to three parishes - Worlingham, North Cove and Barnby -householders in Worlingham should not be expected to contribute more than any household in Barnby or North Cove.”

He added that the council understood that the WNCB was supposed to be self financing, and that this was to be achieved by the selling of space to advertisers, and that the parish council has provided details to the WNCB committee of other possible third party grant providers who may be able to assist.

Regarding the raising of the precept he said: “We have used our reserves over recent years to keep the precept as low as possible for residents, however this was not a policy that could be sustained in the longer term.

“Many projects have been carried out in the village this year and there are several more still to be completed. With the parish plan results due to be available in the New Year we also felt it unfair for those who had participated in the consultation, not to be able to carry some of the improvements they may wish to see in the village. The figure set is in line with the precept of three years ago and we felt this to be a reasonable figure in the current economic climate. The precept equates to 43p per household per week.”

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