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Parish council chairman finally stands down after 35 years in the role

PUBLISHED: 10:16 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:07 21 May 2019

Tony Walters, former Sculthorpe Parish Council chairman. Picture: Ian Burt

Tony Walters, former Sculthorpe Parish Council chairman. Picture: Ian Burt

A parish council chairman who played a leading role in defeating a bid for 200 new houses in his village has stood down after 35 years.

Tony and Margaret Walters, protesting the proposed 200 homes in Sculthorpe, which did not go ahead. Picture: Ian BurtTony and Margaret Walters, protesting the proposed 200 homes in Sculthorpe, which did not go ahead. Picture: Ian Burt

Tony Walters, 79, said his council role in Sculthorpe, near Fakenham, had been involving and rewarding, although it perhaps should have ended sooner.

Mr Walters said a parish council chairman was concerned with all aspects of village life.

He said: "I think you have to care about the village and know what's going on in the village. The chairman gets involved in all kinds of things.

"In some respects it's not correct I was chairman for so long. You need new blood."

Mr Walters said Sculthorpe - known for its former RAF base and old water mill which is now a pub - was a relatively quiet place, which was how the residents liked it.

He said the campaign to fight a bid by Amstel Group Corporation to build 200 homes in the village was one of the biggest things that had happened during his tenure as chairman.

The bid dragged on for years and was only abandoned in October last when the developer withdrew its appeal against the council's rejection of the homes.

Mr Walters said: "it would have destroyed the whole atmosphere of Sculthorpe.

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"So we started up an action group of villagers and that took up a lot of our time."

Mr Walters and his wife Margaret moved to Norfolk from London in 1970 - first living in a flat at Raynham Hall for a year before moving to Sculthorpe.

He worked for FMC Harvesters, which makes pea harvesters, and he travelled around the world 15 times with that company before retiring in 1999.

They had two sons, who both went to Sculthorpe Primary School and are now in the 50s.

Mr Walters was only on the parish council for a couple of years before he was made chairman, but it was a role he quickly grew into.

He said: "I tried to run the council in an informal and flexible way - I didn't want to be too rigid."

Mr Walters said he would stay on the council as a regular member, and continue with his volunteering at the Fakenham Citizens Advice Bureau, and as treasurer of the Francis Beckham Trust, a Sculthorpe charity which owns almshouses and allotments.

Tom FitzPatrick, a district and county councillor for the area, said he worked with Mr Walters on the campaign against the 200 and knew him as a strong advocate for Sculthorpe.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Tony was very passionate in opposing that and I was very happy to work with him. I've found him very good to work with and I wish him well in his retirement."

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