Melton Messenger – A Note from Alan – December 2019

On Remembrance Day, the Book Behind the Name was finally published. Thanks to all involved and I hope everyone has had a chance to see the results. There is one in Woodbridge Library available for public reference. This is a very impressive tome covering the whole village and its production demonstrates how Melton punches above its weight!

More good news, after a joint town & parishes bus meeting on 29th Oct I’m pleased to say that our request for a way forward for the 71 bus service was listened to and taken seriously and a new service will start on Monday 18th November. All credit to First Bus and SCC for making this happen. Please note that the new service will operate differently to its predecessor, see the First Bus website for details.

It is almost Christmas; so it is a time to discuss gifts, well this month I am going to talk about land that East Suffolk Council (ESC) intend to give to Melton Parish Council (MPC). Clearly they are doing this to save money but also because we have been asking them to divest certain pieces of land for ages for the benefit of the village.

They have come back to us with an offer of 21 pieces of land. It is a take all or none scenario, we were not given a chance to pick and choose. So what’s involved? Well as you can imagine, quite a lot. Ownership of the land would be transferred in two batches in 2020 & 2021. ESC will give us a grant of £5000 towards the conveyancing and legal costs. We will have to cover the rest. The ownership of the land will be properly registered at UK land registry so it should be a simple process.

There are two main advantages with MPC taking on these parcels of land, firstly they will be protected from unwanted development and secondly we can use Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds & other funds to improve these green spaces, which have been rather neglected till now. For example we might be able to fit some play equipment at Hall Farm and make the area around Winifred Fison House a landscaped space available for car parking – both of which are things we aimed to do through the Neighbourhood Plan. This would also provide extra car park spaces near McColls which is always a problem area for short term parking. MPC can’t do any of this unless we own the area.

The 21 parcels of land that would become the property of the village are:-

1. Fayrefield Road Area of land between railway line and river.
2. Open space in Riverview Melton
3. Land adjacent to 5 St Friars Court
4. Land adjacent to 20 Friars Court
5. Sports Ground, Hall Farm Road
6. Public Open Space Hall Farm Road
7. Public Open Space in Winifred Fison Close
8. Public open space in Saxon Way
9. Public open space between 1&3 Coppice Close
10. Public open spaces Area 1 Love Lane
11. Public open spaces Area 2 Love Lane
12. Land to rear of Saxon Way
13. Land corner Coppice & Saxon Way
14. Public Open space in Beresford Drive North
15. Land Area 3 to South Beresford Drive
16. Land Area 1 to South Beresford Drive
17. Public Open Space adjacent 31 Bury Hill
18. Public Open Space adjacent 19 Bury Hill
19. Public Open Space between 19, 21, 31 & 33 Bury Hill
20. Public Open Space between 25, 29, 37 & 43 Bury Hill
21. Land north of Bury Hill

We have completed a land survey and have confirmed that there will be a need to fund ongoing maintenance from cutting grass to sorting out old trees in all areas, plus some areas will need additional works to make them safe. The costs of developing parking outside Fison House will also be costly, but we believe this is the right thing to do to improve and protect the facilities within Melton and these days it is now down to the Parish Council to do these things because no-one else will fund it.

In order to maintain the extra land assets we have had to look at the parish council budget accordingly. Melton receives a proportion of the council tax, known as the precept, each year. Melton’s precept is extremely low when compared with surrounding town & parish councils such as Woodbridge, Martlesham and Rendlesham. For example, based on a band D property, Melton residents pay £44.71 per year which is less less than half of what you would pay if you lived in Woodbridge and less than a third if you lived in Rendlesham.
We can fund capital expenditure on the new land from CIL or other funds we can tap into but we will have to pay increased maintenance costs each year As a result, we are considering putting up our share of the precept by the rate of CPI inflation (estimated at 1.7% but subject to change when the CPI rate is confirmed) plus an additional amount to cover some of the increased maintenance costs. We think that an increase of £3.00 per year for a band D property would be enough to mitigate some of the extra maintenance costs in 2020/2021. This is an increase to £47.70 per year, or 25p per calendar month or 30p per month if you pay in 10 monthly instalments per property. The overall charge would still remain significantly lower than Woodbridge, Martlesham or Rendlesham. Melton would still be 13th in the list of local towns & villages. The table below show the 2019/2020 Band D precept comparisons.

No Name Precept per Band D Comparison with Melton
1 Leiston £166.83 3.73
2 Rendlesham £145.38 3.25
5 Framlingham £103.72 2.32
6 Woodbridge £99.97 2.24
7 Wickham Market £73.67 1.65
10 Martlesham £62.41 1.40
13 Melton £44.71 1.00
19 Grundisburgh £30.09 0.67

The increase would be used to pay for the extra work that would be needed to manage our green spaces and we hope that residents will support us in our plans to secure these public open spaces for the future. We have in the past always been very careful not to raise the precept by more than the minimum necessary, but we believe this small increase will reap big benefits for all residents and so for once we feel it is worth it. It is also worth mentioning that while Melton’s maintenance costs will increase, ESC’s revenue costs will reduce by a similar amount and help to ease their council tax rate for 2020/21. So in theory it is a transfer of cost from ESC to MPC.

Further details of the current precepts charged by towns and villages can be found on our website accompanied with the reports on the state of the land we are proposing to take on. If you have any questions or want to comment, please either write or email to the Parish Council using the contact details available on our website

Karl Savill; the manager at Thurlow Nunn Standen in the Street are sponsors of the Melton fete. They are having an open evening on Thursday 5th December 3pm-7pm. Come along to meet the team & see their vast range of products. There will be special offers on the day, as well as prize draws and refreshments. There is plenty of free parking on site and everyone is welcome.

We are receiving Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money from the building work that is ongoing in Melton. We intend to consult more widely next year on other projects but I thought I would get the ball rolling. The idea is to build a pedestrian crossing or a refuge in Melton Road. Somewhere between the Coach & Horses and the entrance to the Recreation Ground. We estimate the cost to be around £50,000. This work would normally be Suffolk County Council responsibility but they have no funds for this work. The level of traffic makes it very difficult to cross the road easily and safely.
If you agree that this is a good use of our CIL funds then please tell us by email or letter to me or to our office. I know we have to get Suffolk CC Highways on board but the sooner we start the sooner we can get things done. At this stage I just wish to gauge the level of support for such a project.

Lastly, I have to tell you that John West; who was a former MPC Councillor and Vice Chairman passed away on 12th November. We intend to mark his time with us by planting a tree with a plaque somewhere suitable in the village, we will also plant one for Jim Bidwell I think it is an enduring way of commemorating people who have made a significant contribution to life in Melton. These two gentlemen will be sorely missed by all those who knew and worked with them on behalf of Melton and its people.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Cllr Alan Porter
Chairman – Melton Parish Council