Boundary tug-of-war over 200 town homes

A TUG of war has broken out over the future of 200 homes which could leave a parish council thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Most residents on the Howard estate in Bury St Edmunds comes under the auspices of the town council.

However, because of an “anomaly” in parish boundaries about 200 homes on the estate - which is Suffolk’s biggest - are not served by the town council but the much smaller Fornham All Saints Parish Council.

The affected residents in the Howard estate have now received a letter from the town council urging them to jump ship from Fornham to Bury.

But last night Fornham All Saints Parish Council hit back saying the residents get “closer attention” under the parish than they would under the town council.

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The issue surrounding the homes - which between them pay thousands of pounds in council tax precept - has arisen because of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s ongoing review of the area’s parish boundaries.

The result of that review could see some authorities merge, expand or disappear entirely.

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In her letter to the Fornham All Saints residents of the Howard estate, Bury Town Council clerk Jen larner said she wanted to “emphasise the advantages of becoming part of the parish of Bury St Edmunds instead of Fornham All Saints”.

“At both borough and county levels of local government, the St Olaves ward is part of the parish of Bury St Edmunds but around 200 homes in Beard Road, Clay Road, Cumberland Avenue, Durham Close, Sussex Road and Warwick Drive are treated as being in Fornham All Saints at parish and town council level,” she said. “This is an anomaly recognised at the last review in 2000 but not corrected at the time.

“The effect is that you pay more in council tax to Fornham All Saints Parish Council - the current annual Band D charge is �26.61 - than to Bury St Edmunds Town Council, where the equivalent charge is �13.50.”

But David Chappell, Fornham Parish Council member and borough councillor for Fornham, said he was “surprised” the town council had written a letter and questioned whether it was a proper use of taxpayer’s money. He also claimed the move was premature because no decision had yet been made by the borough council on whether scores of new homes should be built between the estate and the Fornhams.

He said residents of Fornham All Saints parish were invited to all parish events and were given the kind of close and personal attention a small council can offer.

“But it is about what the residents want that matters,” he said.

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