Breckland District

Coordinates: 52°38′N 0°59′E / 52.633°N 0.983°E / 52.633; 0.983
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Breckland District
Dereham, the administrative centre of the district and the second-largest settlement in the district
Dereham, the administrative centre of the district and the second-largest settlement in the district
Breckland shown within Norfolk
Breckland shown within Norfolk
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
RegionEast of England
Non-metropolitan countyNorfolk
StatusNon-metropolitan district
Admin HQDereham
Incorporated1 April 1974
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district council
 • BodyBreckland District Council
 • MPsGeorge Freeman
Liz Truss
 • Total1,035.1 km2 (399.7 sq mi)
 • Rank17th (of 296)
 • Total143,479
 • Rank159th (of 296)
 • Density140/km2 (360/sq mi)
Ethnicity (2021)
 • Ethnic groups
Religion (2021)
 • Religion
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code33UB (ONS)
E07000143 (GSS)
OS grid referenceTG018081

Breckland is a local government district in Norfolk, England. Its council is based in Dereham, although the largest town is Thetford. The district also includes the towns of Attleborough, Swaffham and Watton, along with numerous villages and surrounding rural areas.

The district derives its name from the Breckland landscape region, a gorse-covered sandy heath of south Norfolk and north Suffolk. The term "Breckland" dates back to at least the 13th century.

The neighbouring districts are King's Lynn and West Norfolk, North Norfolk, Broadland, South Norfolk, Mid Suffolk and West Suffolk.


The district was created on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, covering six former districts which were all abolished at the same time:[2]

The new district was named Breckland after the distinctive landscape which covers parts of the area.[3] The name was chosen following a competition organised by the outgoing authorities which invited local schools, organisations and individuals to put forward suggested names.[4]


Breckland Council
Peter Wilkinson,
since 18 May 2023[5]
Sam Chapman-Allen,
since 16 May 2019
Maxine O'Mahony
since 2021[6]
Seats49 councillors
Political groups
Administration (30)
  Conservative (30)
Other parties (19)
  Labour (12)
  Independent (5)
  Green (1)
  Liberal Democrats (1)
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
6 May 2027
Meeting place
Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE
Thetford is the largest settlement in the district

Breckland District Council, which styles itself "Breckland Council", provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Norfolk County Council. The whole district is also covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government.[7][8]

Political control[edit]

The council has been under Conservative majority control since 1999.

The first election to the council was held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until the new arrangements took effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since 1974 has been as follows:[9]

Party in control Years
No overall control 1974–1979
Conservative 1979–1995
No overall control 1995–1999
Conservative 1999–present


The leaders of the council since 1998 have been:[10]

Councillor Party From To
Cliff Jordan[11] Conservative 1998 2005
William Nunn[12] Conservative 2005 5 Sep 2013
Michael Wassell[13][14] Conservative 11 Sep 2013 31 Mar 2016
William Nunn[15][16] Conservative 31 Mar 2016 16 May 2019
Sam Chapman-Allen Conservative 16 May 2019


Following the 2023 election the composition of the council was:[17]

Party Councillors
Conservative 30
Labour 12
Independent 5
Liberal Democrats 1
Green 1
Total 49

The next election is due in 2027.

Attleborough, the third-largest settlement in the district
Swaffham, the fourth-largest settlement in the district


Since the last boundary changes in 2015 the council has comprised 49 councillors representing 27 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.[18]

UK Youth Parliament[edit]

Although the UK Youth Parliament is an apolitical organisation, the elections are run in a way similar to that of the Local Elections. The votes come from 11 to 18 year olds and are combined to make the decision of the next, 2 year Member of Youth Parliament. The elections are run at different times across the country with Breckland's typically being in early Spring and bi-annually.[19][20][21]

Watton, the fifth-largest settlement in the district


The council has its headquarters at Elizabeth House, a modern office building on the edge of Dereham; the council moved its main offices there in 2003.[22] Prior to that it had been based at the Guildhall on St Withburga Lane in Dereham, which had previously been the offices of Mitford and Launditch Rural District Council, one of the council's predecessors.[23][24]

Breckland House, St Nicholas Street, Thetford: Council's area office in Thetford, built 1992.

The council also maintains an area office at Breckland House on St Nicholas Street in Thetford, which was completed in 1992 and formally opened on 20 May 1993 by Elizabeth II.[25][26]

Towns and parishes[edit]

The district is entirely divided into 113 civil parishes. The parish councils for Attleborough, Dereham, Swaffham, Thetford and Watton have declared their parishes to be towns, allowing them to take the style "town council". Some of the smaller parishes have a parish meeting rather than a parish council. The parishes are:[27]


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2021). "2021 Census Area Profile – Breckland Local Authority (E07000143)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  2. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan District (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 17 November 2023
  3. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973",, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 31 May 2023
  4. ^ "Breckland may be name of new council". Lynn Advertiser. 8 December 1972. p. 8. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  5. ^ "Council minutes, 18 May 2023". Breckland Council. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  6. ^ Webb, Allister (14 October 2021). "Breckland Council confirms new chief executive". Lynn News. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  7. ^ "Local Government Act 1972",, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70, retrieved 31 May 2023
  8. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 21 September 2023.
  9. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  10. ^ "Council minutes". Breckland District Council. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  11. ^ Hannant, David (18 May 2018). "Norfolk County Council leader Cliff Jordan resigns following lung cancer diagnosis". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  12. ^ "Breckland Council leader William Nunn to resign". BBC News. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  13. ^ McMahon, Rosa (12 September 2013). "Breckland Council's new leader and deputy vow to innovate". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  14. ^ Lazzari, Adam (11 March 2016). "Breckland Council leader stands down for 'personal and private reaons'". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  15. ^ Ward, Zach (1 April 2016). "Breckland Council has confirmed previous leader William Nunn has retaken the role". Diss Express. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  16. ^ Parkin, Simon (4 May 2019). "Breckland council leader stands down day after local elections". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 24 June 2022.
  17. ^ "Local elections 2023: live council results for England". The Guardian.
  18. ^ "The Breckland (Electoral Changes) Order 2014",, The National Archives, SI 2014/3290, retrieved 4 December 2023
  19. ^ "Members of Youth Parliament - Norfolk County Council".
  20. ^ "Your Norfolk -".
  21. ^ Cope, Lauren (30 March 2018). "Norfolk's four new Members of Youth Parliament are announced". Eastern Daily Press.
  22. ^ "Welcome to Breckland". Breckland Council. Archived from the original on 18 June 2003. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  23. ^ "No. 34648". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 July 1939. p. 5122.
  24. ^ "New twist to Guildhall saga". Dereham Times. 9 January 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  25. ^ "A Royal Splash". Bury Free Press. 21 May 1993. p. 1. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  26. ^ "Visit us". Breckland Council. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  27. ^ "Town and parish councils". Breckland Council. Retrieved 4 December 2023.

External links[edit]

  • Diss Express - website of local newspaper covering part of district

52°38′N 0°59′E / 52.633°N 0.983°E / 52.633; 0.983