West Acre Parish Council
Welcome to our website.
Here you will find information about the village, news about local events and links to local attractions. We hope that you find what you want. If not, please contact one of the Parish Councillors listed in the contact page.
Click on a picture to see a larger version. Please note that this site is not responsible for changes to any events listed.
West Acre News - March 2020 issue
The latest edition of the Parish newsletter is available to view. Click on a page to open a larger version in a new window.
If you would like to contribute please contact Ralph via email at email@example.com
West Acre Parish Council
There are no planned meetings for the Parish Council.
Below you will find Minutes of Parish Council meetings from the last twelve months, plus other documents which the Council has to publicise to comply with the Transparency Code.
Click on a heading to see the full document.
Covid-19 update (28 May)
Please click on the links below to view the latest information on Covid-19.
To see the latest number of confirmed cases in this area - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/localnews/2645456-King%27s%20Lynn/0
To track the latest number of confirmed cases in other countries - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-51235105
West Acre Annual Parish Reports for 2018-19
To read a report from one of the following groups working in the village. Please click on the name of the group to see the full report.
West Acre Village Hall maintenance
The Village Hall Committee has embarked on a series of repairs and improvements to maintain the large hall as an attractive and warm building with suitable kitchen facilities. The rotten and draughty south wall has been re-timbered with a new wind-proof membrane, and all exposed structural timbers repaired to prevent collapse. (See photographs). Plans are also underway to improve the heating and the kitchen, and quotes for these works are now being assessed. For the future, due to the very fragile state of the walls and structural timbers, and other problems with the old and unsound building, the Committee remains committed to replacing our hall so as to provide a good community space for all residents of West Acre and neighbouring areas. However, it is recognised that such a project will take several years to complete and in the mean time we need to maintain what we have. Despite the external appearance, the interior is large, bright and friendly, and last spring it was completely re-painted by committee members and other volunteers.
Details on hiring the Village Hall can be found on the page 'Village Hall' at the top of this page.
Click on an image to view a larger version
West Acre Rewilding Project
The village hall was packed on the 11th December for a presentation by Westacre Estate & Natural England outlining their vision for the rewilding project getting underway within the estate. Alec Birbeck is leading the project, exploring the environmental issues in relation to estate management and seeking out and engaging with a variety of other rewilding projects and experts. John Ebbage of Natural England has been a strong advocate in support, promoting grant aid for such schemes in order to get them off the ground. Fraser Bradbury is leading the implementation of the early work, getting the rewilding process underway for the estate. The following Parish Council notes describe some of the vision as presented during the meeting.
Current open fields looking north from the Nar Valley Way
In years to come the open fields might look more like this
Vision & Need
The meeting started with an invitation to imagine what our local landscapes might have looked like before humans started to clear the land and manage it for farming animals and crops. There have been a number of rewilding project in recent years in the UK and Europe as a response to the catastrophic loss of biodiversity especially since the introduction of pesticides and post-war industrialisation and intensification of farming. Most of these projects reimagine the withdrawal of humans from intensive intervention in landscape management in preference for mimicking the grazing impacts of long lost species such as Auroch & wild Boar. These rewilding projects now talk in terms of recreating the lost “grazing woodlands & savannas” which these animals would have helped create and manage in ancient times.
But of course we do not have Auroch’s or wild boar anymore - we do however have cattle and pigs to take their place as close relatives. We were told that we will begin to notice over the coming years that some fields around the village will be dropping out of agricultural production and left uncultivated to regenerate naturally, gradually developing a character more akin to that which currently exists at west acre common. Once regeneration has reached sufficient “maturity” grazing cattle and pigs can be introduced to the do the rest. As the rewilding project unfolds (over the next 5 to 10 years) we are invited to rejoice in an element of untidiness in the landscape as this will herald a return to the days when our air will again be filled with a soup of insect life as it used to be – a sure sign that we are living in a healthier biodiverse & balanced world.
To have an impact in ecological terms and in order for there to be enough space for cattle and pigs to roam the project will eventually need to have sufficient available space. The plan (opposite) is an approximation of the extent currently envisage by West Acre estate as described at the meeting. Stretching along the river Nar and then northwards towards East Walton, the core of the project will be to the south and west of the Castle Acre, East Walton/Gayton Road. It includes many existing woodland, wetland and common areas along with open agricultural fields. Westacre parish is therefore only a small part of a much larger project which will, if it takes off, have a significant and positive ecological impact within the wider estate stretching to the west of the village.
Click on the map to view a larger version
In the meeting both the estate and Natural England described the ultimate goal of potentially creating a series of connected wild life corridors. For example there is another rewilding project near Heacham (Wild Ken Hill) – could it be that in the future wildlife will be able to move more freely along planned and connected corridors throughout west
We were reminded that we cannot of course return to a completely natural landscape. Since the war fertilizers, pesticides, and intensive cultivation have changed our soils to such an extent that we cannot, in advance, be completely sure as to what nature will to create when left alone. So the project is being monitored from an ecological perspective recording the species which currently exist as a base line to which it is hoped to add a dramatic increase in biodiversity – as the project matures.
Cattle and pig stocking levels will, as we understand, be at relatively low levels in order to avoid any overgrazing but exact numbers will require some experimentation depending on how the new natural landscape develops. Other rewilding projects cull animals as necessary to control populations with the added benefit of being able to sell the resulting highly valued beef and pork
A number of roads crisscross the rewilding area as it is currently defined. The estate along with Natural England indicated that they are currently in early discussions with Norfolk County Council in the hope of eventually being able the remove some of the existing roadside fencing allowing the introduced crazing cattle and pigs to roam relatively freely. Options to control animals without fencing might include the introduction of cattle grids of the sort use in the New Forest or upland areas where herds of sheep and horses are otherwise allowed to roam free. We understand these discussions are at an early stage and the project is likely to get underway in contained “blocks” or “compartments” defined by these existing roads avoiding the need for crossing points, at least in the short term. cont.,
are at an early stage and the project is likely to get underway in contained “blocks” or “compartments” defined by these existing roads avoiding the need for crossing points, at least in the short term.
Of course there will be an impact on local residents and how we use the footpath network. We were reassured that all footpaths will remain open, however , if all proceeds to plan, we may need to get used to occasionally sharing the new landscape with its new managers in the form of semi feral cattle and pigs.
The meeting also discussed the positive and negative impacts of a potential increase in nature loving visitors along with pressures for further farm diversification. Whilst these are not issues around which there is any certainty at this stage the PC is keen to maintain a dialogue with the Estate for the benefit of residents.
A parish council perspective
We are, as you all know, very lucky to live in the valley of the River Nar with its river SSSI, woodlands, wetlands and meadows all relatively secluded from the wider world. But we cannot ignore what’s happening around us in the wider agricultural landscapes and the decline in natural ecosystems. The potential vision therefore of an enhanced larger and wilder core valley corridor connecting into the wider agricultural landscape adding colour, texture, richness and enhanced biodiversity is surely to be warmly welcomed and embraced. Listening to all the news recently with regard to climate change and biodiversity collapse it’s great to think we will be living in a landscape doing its bit to change things for the better. In the spirit of continuing engagement with local residents the meeting concluded with the idea, that a spring walk might be a great next event for residents to join in order to learn more about this exciting initiative.
We look forward to hearing more about that in the coming months and Westacre Parish Council offers the project its full support and wishes Alec, John, Fraser and all others involved well for the hard work ahead.
Chair, West Acre Parish Council
West Acre Priory and the River Nar
Two recent documents may be of interest to anyone curious to know more about the history of the Augustinian priory and
how the health of the River Nar is being monitored.
Click here to read the Norfolk Rivers Trust report on the River Nar
Click here to read the Historic England report on the Priory
There is no foot too small that it cannot
leave an imprint on this world
Living next door to Charlotte Howarth has given me a privileged access to her work. I knew she was working on something special when a massive piece of freshly quarried stone appeared outside her workshop earlier this year. Its purpose gradually emerged.
In February 2018 Charlotte had submitted her competition entry for the commission of a memorial commemorating the unmarked burial plot in Belfast City Cemetery of over 7,000 babies who died stillborn or shortly after birth between 1945 and 1996. The city council’s original proposal, a rock topped with a Bonsai tree, had been rejected by families of some of the children as being “totally unsuitable”. One mother suggested that the memorial had to be “self-explanatory”. She added “"I would like people know this is the resting place of so many babies, so there has to be a baby in it.”
Charlotte’s submission was successful and she began a lengthy series of consultations with everyone involved, leading to a final design which was approved by the community. Charlotte believes that her experience of working with communities was instrumental in her winning the commission, and she was particularly pleased that she was able to turn round the negativity she found at the start of the project into a very positive outcome.
Charlotte chose a beautiful piece of Kilkenny limestone for her design. It’s a very hard material and its tight-grain makes it resistant to spray-can graffiti, an important consideration in an area which is subject to anti-social behaviour. Charlotte’s sensitive and overtly sentimental design (it was part of the brief), a baby sleeping on a bed of leaves, gradually emerged over this summer.
In September the beautiful baby was delivered and unveiled to the public. Created with love and received with joy.
More recently Charlotte worked closely with Westminster Abbey studios to help create the lettering on the cathedral’s donor windows.
Anyone looking to employ a stone carver whose work is carefully considered and beautifully executed can contact Charlotte through her website, www.making-marks.com.
Click on an image to view a larger version
Charlotte's clay maquette model
Above, detail of the finished memorial
West Acre Carpet Bowls Club successes
by Belinda Bush
This past year the Bowls Club has been doing well. We now have a total of twenty members coming from West Acre, Swaffham, Downham Market, Middleton, Harpley, and Whissonsett.
We are still playing Tuesday and Thursday afternoons 2-4pm. We are hoping to have an Open Day once the village hall has had the kitchen renovated to try and attract some more youngsters (we have 3 that play during the holidays) and if successful we are hoping to do an evening so that they can continue the sport.
We had a Hog Roast in August and invited members from Whissonsett and Runcton Holme Clubs. Normally we would have a BBQ, but a member said that they went to a Hog Roast and they brought everything with them including puddings. This was a great success and we will consider doing it again this year.
We have won more trophies - the Brian Perry Shield was won at Mundford in July and the Dersingham Charity Rose Bowl in October.
Members asked if we could have new shirts and it was decided that those that enter competitions should have them first. Members were asked to design a new logo and a vote was held to choose the colour and design. The winner was a member’s grandson, who was presented with a gift voucher.
Matthew Boughen won his first Bowls trophy in our internals competition with his partner Brian Roberts who, unfortunately, is ill in hospital. Brian also won the Singles competition.
All in all we have had a great year, although we have sadly lost some members who will always be remembered.
Click on an image to view a larger version
Winners of the Dersingham Charity Rose Bowl 2019
Left – right; Gordon Coulting, Dersingham Organiser Jenny ? Belinda Bush,
Mick Turpin and Ken Dunton
Pairs Internals Competition 2019 winner
Winners of the Brian Perry Shield
Left – right; Mick Turpin, Belinda Bush, Gordon Coulting, and Ken Dunton
Spring scene on the village green
Usually one would expect to find children enjoying themselves on the play equipment or see visitors taking in the parish church, perhaps on their way to the Stag pub or passing through West Acre on the Nar Valley Way.
Sadly, these are not normal times. The Parish Council recently issued advice on coronavirus to the residents of West Acre through its publication, West Acre News (see bottom of page), including contact details of local people who can be contacted by anyone seeking help. It is important that we all follow government advice on taking measures to stay safe in order to protect ourselves and those we love.
Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives
Here are some helpful general resources about coronavirus (covid-19) which have been produced to support people with a learning disability and their families and carers – please share as appropriate:
The following are updates from existing local Services
Are continuing to provide support, advice and information to people affected by dementia during this time. We have suspended our home/face to face visits and groups but are still very much providing support via the telephone and other electronic means.
Our Norfolk helpline number is 01603 763556.
The line is staffed by experienced Dementia Support Workers Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Dementia Support Workers offer information and practical guidance to help people understand the condition, cope with day-to-day challenges and prepare for the future.
This number is there for any one affected by dementia and can be used by professionals to make referrals on someone’s behalf.
If anyone would like support outside the hours detailed above:
Alzheimer’s Society National Helpline is on 0300 222 1122 and available 9am – 8pm Monday to Wednesday, 9am – 5pm Thursday and Friday, 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.
Talking Point is an online forum for everyone who is affected by dementia, open 24 hours a day. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/talking-point-our-online-community
ASD Helping Hands
We might not be able to leave the house but that's not going to stop use doing what we love and supporting you.
Even though we aren't holding any of our Face to Face sessions at the moment that's not going to stop use supporting you. With the power of technology, we are coming to you with Two Brand New Services!!!
Virtual Support Group
Join us on Saturday Mornings between 10:00 - 11:00 on Facebook for a Virtual Support Group.
Grab a Coffee, get comfortable and let's chat about the week, get advice and just unload.
The best bit is you don't even need to get dressed!!!
From 9am to 9pm (Monday to Saturday) we will be on hand through our live chat on our website, for one to one chats if you are looking for advice or just need to let off some steam with someone who just gets it.
This is separate from our family support. Launching Tuesday 24/03/2020
Baby Basic West Norfolk
Baby Basics West Norfolk support for referrals is continuing as normal, with only one of at any one time preparing the baskets and we will not let you down so please do keep your referrals coming in and we will work in the same way to support you all and ensure no mums in need go without.
In view of the Covid 19 Coronavirus although our drop-off points are still open, we are currently unable to accept any second-hand items of donations which will include any clothing or bedding. We are following Government health guidelines and asking that donations be kept until restrictions are lifted when we will be more than grateful for the support. We will accept brand new donations of clothing and nappies, wipes, toiletries, maternity pads and breast pads.
During these unprecedented times, if you know of any mum in need of nappies (of any size) or baby wipes and cannot access them, please do contact us and we will pack a bag and leave them in the back of St Nicholas church at Dersingham for the professional to collect (with a name on). This will be of course whilst we have the stock.
If we can help you or your clients in any way, please let us know.
British Red Cross Mobility Aids
have had to revise the opening hours of our Mobility Aids Service across our three outlets in Norfolk. This change to our service operational hours has been made due to current guidelines and restrictions which has affected our staff and volunteer availability.
Norfolk Coastal Centre Gorleston - We will now be open three days a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00am to 4:00pm – we will continue to offer a delivery service on these days too.
Norwich – Open three days a week from 10:30 to 4:00pm. Offering a delivery service on Tuesday and Thursday 01603 253403
Kings Lynn – Open three days a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00am to 4:00pm
Or call 0300456 1914 Option 3
We will continue to review the situation and update you with any future changes.
Children and Young People’s Health Services
We thought it may be useful to let you know what the HCP are providing at present due to the pandemic and government guidelines. We are following the NHS essential services guidelines. Please click on this link for a summary of our current service
This is our text messaging service for aged 11- 19 years old.
It is run by our 5-19 team in the Norfolk Healthy Child Programme. From 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday ChatHealth has experienced clinicians online waiting to answer and deal with any messages from young people.
All young people need to do is text 07480 635060 to start a conversation
Just One Number 0300 300 0123 is still available for families
This is our phone service that is available from Monday – Friday 8am to 6pm (9am to 1pm on Saturdays).The Just One Number team can help you by providing health advice and information about your baby, child or young person. Just call 0300 300 0123 with any health questions or concerns you may have. If you child is unwell please call your GP, 111 or 999.
Coordinated Crisis Support Programme
Here’s a brief update on the Coordinated Crisis Support programme in Norfolk:
The CCS team are seeking to support local partners to respond to CV-19 over the coming weeks. If any VCS organisations supporting those in financial crisis are struggling to deliver or changing their offer in response to the pandemic, we are keen to engage with a view to supporting with resource wherever we can.
Please do encourage people to contact Julia with any queries or ideas.
Julia David CCS Programmer Officer
Julia.David@childrenssociety.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org 07710396073
Early Childhood & Family Service (ECFS)
In response to the Government’s advice about social distancing, we are reviewing the way we are delivering our services in a coordinated way with other providers. Currently we are planning to offer support and advice to families with by telephone, Skype, and other digital methods. For families in needs, we will continue to provide 1:1 support where our risk assessments indicate it is safe to do so.
Unfortunately, we are not able to provide our open access and targeted group services in the ECFS bases and outreach venues during this period, but we are looking at alternate ways of providing information digitally including video clips. At present, the ECFS bases will remain open but with minimal numbers of staff.
We would really value working together with you during this period to co-ordinate our response to supporting families. Please feel welcome to contact us with your suggestions about the best way that we can keep in touch with you and co-ordinate support to families. To safely minimize the number of contacts families are having with professionals, whilst ensuring that they receive a good level of support, it would be helpful if we could co-ordinate our resources around home visiting.
If families need support or if they are in financial hardship due to Coronavirus, please refer them to ECFS as normal or ask the family to visit our website and use the ‘Green Button’ to contact us, or email email@example.com, or ring 0344 800 8020 to speak to one of our team.
Make mine a roast. Cheers!
While we are denied the pleasure of visiting the Stag pub on a lovely spring day, or any other day for that matter, we can still partake of the pleasures of this well-loved establishment by ordering a takeaway meal and/or drink.
There is a comprehensive menu available, while Wednesday evening has been designated Roast Night. And it's only £8!
If this tickles your taste buds give Serina a ring and see what's cooking - 01760 755395.
Sorry, but this service doesn't apply to our regular readers in the States, or Shanghai!
Coronavirus information update (2)
The Parish Council receives regular updated information from the Borough Council on local services.
The latest update includes information on the following;
Bin collection services
Business rates relief
Free car parking for key workers in priority car parks in King's Lynn and Hunstanton
Council Tax hardship fund
Dog mess bins
Grounds maintenance and street cleaning
Housing for the homeless
Winter night shelter and the Purfleet Trust Day Centre
At the end of the document there is a list of useful contacts and information for the following;
Norfolk County Council
Click here to download a copy of the Borough Council update