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Band may buy site

PUBLISHED: 13:57 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 14:26 07 July 2010

THE long-running wrangle over a huge rent increase for Dereham Band could be resolved - with the group looking at buying the land it rents from Breckland Council.

THE long-running wrangle over a huge rent increase for Dereham Band could be resolved - with the group looking at buying the land it rents from Breckland Council.

The future of the band - which has entertained people for decades and raised huge sums for charities - has been in doubt since it was told it would have to pay almost £2,000 a year rent rather than its current £1 peppercorn.

The band owns its building on the Rash's Green Industrial Estate but the land is owned by the council.

Breckland has pledged “wholehearted support” for the band - and offered to introduce the higher rent in stages and allow the group to pay monthly. But the council has insisted it cannot waive the rent as it could open the floodgates for other groups across the district to seek peppercorn deals.

Breckland has faced criticism in recent weeks for its stance.

However, during a meeting between council and band officials on Tuesday the idea of the band buying the land was raised. Breckland will now find out the value of the land and both parties will negotiate over whether a deal can be done.

Since the band's plight was highlighted by the Times there has been “overwhelming” support from the community - and it is hoped there could be offers of help to buy the land.

Council chief executive Trevor Holden has also given the band ideas for applying for grants to help with capital projects, such as new equipment and supporting growth among young players.

After the meeting, band chairman John Moulton said: “The potential to buy the land could be a good way forward. We have been overwhelmed by the support we have had.”

Mr Holden said: “We cannot pick up on-going revenue projects but we can help in other ways and the council is committed to helping the band. The band is very valuable to the community and I am sure we can move forward.”

The band has a concert at Northgate High School on April 19. Tickets can be bought from Knit Wits in Glencowe Court, off the Cherry Tree car park.

If you can help, contact secretary Fiona Joisce on 01362 694533 or e-mail derehamband@msn.com

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