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Deal over band land

PUBLISHED: 14:30 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 14:38 07 July 2010

It took months of tireless campaigning from a town determined to save the local and much-loved band under threat from the council.

And followers of Dereham Band were blowing their own trumpets when it was revealed a deal had finally been brokered.

It took months of tireless campaigning from a town determined to save the local and much-loved band under threat from the council.

And followers of Dereham Band were blowing their own trumpets when it was revealed a deal had finally been brokered.

The saga began earlier this year when Breckland Council moved to up the band's annual peppercorn rent, on their premises at Rash's Green, from £1 to £1,700.

But the band, which each year chooses a local good cause and fundraises for it by playing, as well as leading Battle of Britain and Remembrance Parades, hit back claiming they could not afford the rent and would be forced to fold if they had to pay.

For the last 25 years the band has rented the same piece of land, and as they own and maintain the building they rehearse in, the council faces no financial liability in maintaining or servicing the premises.

To find another use for the plot would be a struggle as the land has been rendered commercially difficult by a gas main which coupled with a no build zone renders the plot virtually useless for building and commercial purposes.

However the council maintained it could not keep the peppercorn rent as other groups in the area would expect the same treatment.

And now an agreement looks set to be reached after councillors will be asked to give chief executive Trevor Holden the power to sell the land to the band for £14,000.

The report states if the sale does not go-ahead the council's reputation could be on the line. “If we do not sell and the council goes to adjudication to settle the rent, the bad press to Breckland could be enormous.”

Chairman of Dereham Band John Moulton said: “We're hopeful that the end is sight, We've reached an agreement with the council, and while the best solution would for us to still be paying our old rent, this is the best solution to where we are now.

“This should hopefully guarantee the future of the band.”

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