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 Parish Council Meeting
Monday 16 August 2021
There will be a Meeting of the Parish Council on Monday 16 August, commencing at 6pm. The Meeting will be held in the Village Hall.
Click on a heading to see the full document.
West Acre Annual Parish Reports for 2020-21
Please click on the name of the group working in the village to download a full report.
West Acre All Saints Church services
Sunday 17 October at 9am
Further information on the Nar Valley Group of Parishes can be found here -
Looking forward to the future in the Village Hall
As rules on social distancing are relaxed we are looking forward to the return of popular events being held in the village hall. The Village Hall committee have taken advantage of the lockdown time and government grants to modernise the facilities. A new heating system, consisting of eight electric units, has been installed in the main hall, new heating in the toilets, new double- glazed windows in the main hall, and the kitchen area has been extended and modernised.
Exercise classes led by Caitlin Forster and the Billiards Club have resumed activities, and the Hall was used for a polling station once again last week.
For those with young children the news that the Youth Club will shortly be re- starting may be welcomed. Plans of possible activities and events specifically aimed at interesting our young people are being considered, andall parents will be invited to join and to comment onthe proposed offerings. In the past this has included many local outings (farming, woodlands & wildlife, theatre, barbecue etc) and many Hall-based sessions including indoor & outdoor games, arts & crafts & music etc. All those supervising will have DBS clearance if acting alone.
If you are interested in hiring the hall for an event or party, or would like to organise a regular activity please contact Belinda Bush, on 01760 755184 or by email on email@example.com
Parish Council retirements and new recruits
West Acre Parish Council bid farewell to one of its valued members at their Annual Meeting on 24th May, when Antonia Hanbury stood down as a councillor. She has been on the Council since 2013, having had responsibility for Youth matters for much of that time.
Also bidding farewell was the Parish Clerk, Henry Birkbeck. Henry was first elected to the Council in 1987 and took over the Chairman’s role from 1999 until 2009. He remained a councillor until 2016 when he stepped down to become Clerk. Henry's experience will be greatly missed, however he will continue to act as Treasurer for one more year.
Henry is pictured receiving a gift of a unique wood vase to mark his retirement presented by the Council. The vase was created by village resident Brian Wright.
The council welcomed two new councillors, Lucy Birkbeck and Peter Wilson.
The position of Clerk still remains to be filled. If you think you would like to play an active role in the community and would like to discuss this further please contact either Eoghan Shiels (Chair) on 01760 755045 (or email firstname.lastname@example.org), or Henry Birkbeck (email - email@example.com) to learn what this role involves.
West Acre Parish Council
The following people served on the council during this period:
Eoghan Sheils (chair)
Henry Birkbeck (Clerk & RFO)
Richard Furze (Internal Auditor)
Delegation of main parish responsibilities
Planning & Highways: Eoghan Sheils
Roads: Eoghan Sheils
Youth activities: Antonia Hanbury
Theatre liaison, health/well-being & litter: Jeremy Cameron
Newsletter & website: Ralph Sliwa
SAM – speed awareness camera: Terry Howlett
Parish Council Meetings
There have been three meetings during the past year although, because of Covid restrictions, the meetings have been Zoom. The Parish Council (PC) would like to thank all those village groups and organisations who submitted written reports/resumés of their activity this year. As always, I would like to take this opportunity to formally thank all residents and local/district councillors who regularly attend and participate in the PC meetings. The feedback and comments we receive gives us an important sense of purpose and direction without which our time spent as councillors would perhaps feel a lot less useful. Thank you also to the village hall committee for all their work improving the village hall and getting it ready for its reopening for post-Covid village use - it’s great to be back in person.
Village Precept Has remained unchanged at £750
Throughout the Year
The village, like many other parts of the country, has continued to see larger numbers of visitors. The PC continues to record complaints/issues regarding problems with visitor parking and careless littering. These issues are topics of ongoing discussion and consideration for the PC over the coming months in coordination with Westacre Estate and other interest groups/stakeholders.
We have continued to receive ongoing feedback from residents expressing concern with regard to highway matters – condition of verges, signs, bridge and Fullers Lane drainage and flooding. The PC set up a schedule of defects document recording visually all the various issues. The PC continues to coordinate communications and meetings with Norfolk County Council Highways (NCCH) with mixed success. Councillor Heatley has pushed the repair of Laundry Bridge on River road – with a commitment that the necessary works are now programmed for completion in the next few weeks.
I have had less success in arranging a further meeting with NCCH in order to review the drainage improvement works completed last autumn. Residents may have noticed that some of the work has had limited impact in reducing surface water drainage which causes problems through the village and which currently eventually ends up at Fullers Lane. The PC will continue to make it a priority to maintain pressure on NCCH to adequately respond to outstanding issues. We will also continue to liaise with the Highways Rangers in an effort to keep West Acre’s paths and roads clean and tidy.
SAM speed awareness sign
Many thanks to Terry Howlett for taking ownership of the ongoing management – rotating location and recording etc.
Planning matters – Abbey Barns
Following representations from residents concerned with regard to the volume of peak time traffic in and out of Abbey Barns the PC has again recently written to the planning authority seeking clarification with regard to a range of matters impacting residents. In summary we have asked the following questions;
traffic – how many cars are currently allowed to park at the barn complex and what is the impact on surrounding highway infrastructure at the times of these larger visitor events – has this been considered as part of the current planning approval process;
noise generated by visitors – were outdoor events considered as part of the original application(s);
noise from music played by the brewery - does the brewery require any further approvals;
opening hours – we are aware that operating times for some businesses are not yet in line with the planning approval and are looking for you guidance as to how would you advise this is resolved;
beer garden/tap days with food stalls – it would seem these are OK under the current license but are they also authorised under the current planning approval;
parking overspill - how should the area of visitor and parking overspill into the wider areas be managed as this extends beyond the brewery red line boundary;
cumulative impact of this and other developments now and in the future – how will this be managed in planning policy terms?
We have also sought wider reassurance in that we know that the Estate is looking more widely in the village for further diversification of economic activity in coordination with their “rewilding” project and associated eco-tourism, all of which could offer some benefits, for example in terms of employment, but will mean that the changing character of West Acre as it evolves into a more significant visitor destination needs proper consideration in terms of all the potential and obvious negatives.
The PC is aware that planning policy for West Acre has sought to protect it as a small village/hamlet where development is expected to be very limited, and we are seeking reassurance that this continues to be planning policy. The Borough Council Planning officer responsible (Jade Calton) has asked for more time to review all these issues comprehensively. The PC will likely aim to update residents through the newsletter and website as we get any further feedback.
Rewilding & farm diversification generally
The Estate is well underway with the exciting opportunities to enhance wildlife and conservation. Whilst naturally very supportive of this important project the PC continues to request and arrange updates from the Estate as residents will have read in the latest newsletter. In particular the PC will continue to monitor both the positive and negative impacts of anticipated increased footfall/visitors on residents. The PC will therefore be interested to hear residents’ views with regard to both positive and negative impact of the wider farm diversification. We believe that we can usefully continue to provide feedback aimed at encouraging the Estate to continue to have wider impacts on residents in mind as they plan for the future of the Estate and farm.
Website & Newsletter
The parish website continues to runs well and we are able to produce a regular newsletter. The feedback we have received regarding the newsletter in particular suggest that it is well received by many residents. We are as always keen to hear from residents of any topics, issues or stories they would like to see covered.
Finally, I would like to thank all the councillors for their continuing support of West Acre. In particular I’d like to thank Antonia who is resigning from the Council after many years of valuable service to our community. Henry is also resigning as Clerk to the Council. Henry first joined the council in 1987 becoming Chairman between 1999 & 2009 more recently also taking on the role of Responsible Financial Officer (a role we are pleased to sat he will continue with for 1 more year).
Henry has had the wellbeing of the village as a focus for his long years of service and commitment to the parish and the Council. This is, therefore, a significant moment for the PC as we seek to adjust to the retirement of an officer with such long standing commitment to the village. We should also recognise with gratitude the professional manner in which Henry, as officer, has sought a balanced view of issues as they impact both the village and Westacre Estate – this has not always been easy.
Whilst Henry may be leaving the PC, I think it fair to say that, with his many other village roles, for example with the village hall and church warden, we will see his commitment to village life continuing to flourish for many years to come. Many thanks Henry for your significant time to fulfil the roles of Clerk and Responsible Finance Officer so well and for keeping me on track!
Remaining Councillors will be “taking stock” over the next few weeks as to how we see the future for the PC. We will be seeking residents’ views and of course we are very keen to hear for anyone who would like to get involved directly with the PC.
Images taken by Ernest Heatley at the Civil War Re-enactment held at West Acre on 28 and 29 August
Click on an image to view a larger version.
West Acre Village Fete held on
Saturday 21 August
This event would not have been possible without the marvellous support of at least 30 volunteers, including from East Walton and Gayton Thorpe. Despite unseasonal weather 340 adults came with an unknown number of children. It was hugely enjoyed, by both grown-ups and children, and we ended up with a surplus of £2,345 for the West Acre Community Trust (including a small amount for the West Acre Church).
It was wonderful to have such generous offers of time and energy – and donations - to create such a happy day for so many of us and our neighbours.
All images kindly created by Ernest Heatley.
Click on an image to view a larger version.
Could this be you?
West Acre Parish Council
Parish Clerk and Responsible Financial Officer
Applications are invited for the position of Parish Clerk and Responsible Finance Officer to West Acre Parish Council. West Acre is a very small parish of around 180 people. There are currently seven co-opted Councillors (including the chair). Full Council meeting are held 4 times a year with additional meetings as required. The post is for approximately 4 hours per week, including attendance at evening Council meetings which are held at West Acre Village Hall on Mondays commencing at 6:00pm, approximately every 12 weeks. The successful applicant will work from home and will be expected to be well organised and self-motivated to ensure that work is prioritised and completed in a timely manner. Previous experience is desirable but not essential, as training can be provided.
Main duties will include:
• To attend 4 full council meetings, prepare and issue papers to Councillors for those meetings ensuring compliance with statutory requirements. Preparing minutes of said meetings.
• To attend other meetings of the Council as required.
• Deal with general correspondence on behalf of the Council. Issuing letters/investigating on behalf of the Council as instructed, sourcing legal or expert advice as and when appropriate.
• Recording and monitoring planning applications as required by statute. Circulating applications and responding on behalf of the Council as directed.
• Monitoring and updating of Council's key operating documents such as Standing Orders, Code of Conduct, GDPR etc.
• Assist with the development and production of policies as necessary
• To organise the Annual Meeting of Parish Electors and provide admin support
• Attendance and or Representation at Liaison meetings or seminars as required by Council.
• To act as the Responsible Financial Officer in accordance with Statutory requirements and Financial Regulations.
• Supervision of Council Budget and provision of quarterly reports to Council.
• Responsible for ensuring payment of invoices, staff pay as well as receipt of any income.
• Recording and reclaim of VAT.
• Preparation of the Annual Budget Report to determine precept requirement.
• Preparation and timely submission of the Annual Return.
• Ensuring Council's responsibilities under the Transparency Code are met.
• Identification of suitable grants for Council work.
Communication and Liaison
• Promoting the work of the Council to residents via the Newsletter.
• Management of the Parish Council Website & Gmail account
• Posters on Noticeboards
• Dealing with members of the public's queries, where those queries do not come within the remit of the Parish Council, the Clerk is expected to refer the question on or direct the member of the public to the appropriate contact.
• Manage the village speed camera – arrange rota of locations and recording/reporting data.
• Advising the Council or Councillors, where necessary, of their statutory duties and/or powers.
• Providing support and advice to Council Chairman.
Salary negotiable in line with agreed National Pay Scale.
Canon Stuart Nairn’s retirement
A tribute by Henry Birkbeck
Stuart has worked for over 40 years in the Diocese of Norwich, and since 1997 when the Nar Valley Benefice was set up, he has looked after the Parishes of West Acre, South Acre, Castle Acre, Newton by Castle Acre, Narborough with Narford, and Pentney. During these 24 years he has lent his support to a great many in need in these communities, in particular those who have become ill or hampered by old age. He has of course helped a great many people arrange christenings, weddings, and funerals and from my own experience I have found his support over family bereavements to be extremely valuable and much appreciated at such times. Although only a few from West Acre have attended many of the services, he has always provided the opportunity for those who have wished to attend, regularly giving sermons that have provided great opportunity for reflection on the way we lead our lives. Across the Benefice he has put enormous effort into helping each Parish achieve necessary renovations to their churches by assisting with grant applications, and although we have had no significant success with our own church in recent years, he has tried on several occasions to secure large scale funding to redo the roof, external walls, interior plaster work etc. He fully supports our thoughts on adapting the church for a wide variety of uses by the Parishioners, and he has kindly offered to give us advice when applying for funding for such a project. Stuarts official position ceases on the 28th of November this year and although we have been promised a new parish priest for our group there will be a period of many months without one whilst his successor is chosen, so responsibility for the church will fall upon us Parishioners, in particular the Parochial Church Council and myself as Church Warden. In addition, during this time I’m very glad to say that Stuart has offered to help any of us to arrange funerals and to conduct such services
where required. Throughout this time Stuart has been
tirelessly supported by his wife Susan who has also led
the choir. If she is unable to continue with this her
beautiful voice and musical arrangements will be
greatly missed. Stuart and Susan will be moving to their
new home in Swaffham, and I would like to wish them
many happy years’ retirement in this area.
Right, and below, images taken at Stuart's final service
in West Acre on Sunday 19 September
Sadie and Matt Grist
Westacre Theatre needs you
In case you haven’t heard, there are new developments at your local community theatre. It’s there, of course, for the benefit of everyone in our village and in the surrounding parishes too. But the theatre desperately needs your help please.
You may know that Sadie and Matt Grist took over the helm just in time for the summer shows.Now they have the autumn programme well underway. For sure, there is never a dull moment for our new directors. And at the same time
they set-up home locally (they are now settling in fine) and had the excitement of their young daughter starting school for the first time at Castle Acre Primary.
A quick look at their website www.westacretheatre.com shows you just how many events there will be over the rest of the year. They have been carefully planned so there should be something on offer to suit most tastes.
But each activity needs people on hand to make sure it runs smoothly. Just a few hours each week or fortnight or month would make all the difference. You would become part of a well-oiled team of volunteers who take their turns at serving on the bar, selling programmes, or one of the many other vital duties.
For a whole variety of reasons, many of the helpers from before the pandemic are unable to return which has left several gaps in the roster. If you would like to find out more then either call them in the office on 755800, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you are wandering by and notice there are folk about then put your head around the door and say Hello – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Belinda from the village is busy there when nothing is happening; she keeps it spick and span for when there is. Another face you will often see is Karen who is in charge of the office.
It’s over thirty years since Andy and Issy started the open-air plays and then moved into the old chapel. They still live next door to the theatre but have stepped down from the day-to-day running.
Matt and Sadie have many years’ experience of working extensively in the theatre world including over a decade of being involved at West Acre. They like it so much in our village that they decided to make their future here with us. So, with their new energy and enthusiasm comes some essential continuity as well to revitalise the best of what the theatre does.
Lots of other villages would love to have their own theatre. But we here in West Acre are the lucky ones and it is up to us to make the most of it. Open all year round, it is a wonderful facility to have on our doorstep. But, as with so many things in life, it’s a
two-way street. They have
well-equipped rooms and
beautiful grounds that could
so easily be used by the
village, for the village. But
they do need those willing
hands to keep everything on
an even keel.
So, as the reins pass to the
next generation, they hope
you might consider giving a
little of your time to making
the venue sustainable for you,
your children and
grandchildren to enjoy.
Public Notice concerning Westacre Farms application for two new plantations
Carbon Plantations Ltd has submitted an application to the Forestry Commission for consent to create new woodlands on four estates in Norfolk and Suffolk. These are EIA-2021-0415 B.J.Rutterford (Hockwold Fen), EIA-2021-0416 Euston Farms, EIA-2021-0417 South Pickenham Estate and EIA-2021- 0418 Westacre Farms.
This is a requirement of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry)(England) Regulations. Copies of the documents are available to view for 30 days from the date of this publication at www.carbonplantations.co.uk or at the Forestry Commission office, Santon Downham, Brandon, Suffolk, IP27 0TJ (by appointment only by emailing email@example.com) .
To see very detailed information on the Westacre application, click on the link above then click on Public Notice, and finally click on the link to Westacre.
If you wish to comment on this application, this should be made in writing within 30 days from the date of this publication to the Forestry Commission address above or by email
Hard copies of the document can be received at cost price by contacting Brown & Co The Fairways, Wyboston Lakes, Great North Road, Wyboston, Beds, MK44 3AL.The Forestry Commissioners may decide either to grant consent subject to the standard conditions required by Regulation 18 of the EIA Regulations, or subject to such further conditions as they see fit or refuse consent.