Swaffham Town Council's plea to residents over £6m homes loan idea
Community leaders have defended their handling of proposals which could see them request a multi-million pound loan to fund a housing project.
An open letter has been issued to residents in Swaffham about the plan for the town’s Days Field site, following concerns raised at a packed public meeting earlier this month.
The town council is considering seeking permission from the government to borrow up to £6 million to build around 50 new homes on the land.
Members backed a proposal to explore the idea at a special meeting in August, though some councillors have since said they oppose the idea of borrowing.
But many residents have voiced concerns over both the scale of the potential financial burden which could be placed on the town if a loan is sought and the idea of developing the site at all.
The letter, which is signed in the name of town mayor Colin Houghton and was published this week, stressed that the council is not committed to borrowing any money even if it is given permission to do so.
It said: “The council’s position is that it would be failing in its duty to you all if it did not look at all options to get best value.
“Councillors will not take undue risks.”
The letter, which has been circulated via the council’s noticeboard, website and social media platforms this week, also defended town clerk Richard Bishop, saying he had been accused of leading or overly influencing councillors and suggested that misinformation was being circulated about the proposal.
“We have a very experienced town clerk who has served our town loyally and faithfully for many years.
“He leads the council staff and can only make decisions within council policy or under council instruction.
“He is respected by councillors and has provided good governance to our town during his tenure.”
The letter added: “If you have any major issues at this precise time, please do raise them through the proper channels.
“It really is not helpful if more misleading information is spread around.”
The issue is due to be on the agenda at a town council finance meeting this Monday, October 29, though it is listed to be discussed in closed session.
But the council has insisted that a further public meeting will take place as the process of considering whether to make a loan application progresses.