I write a report for the twelve Parish Councils in my division as regularly as I can. Here’s my report for October:
Battling the weather
The County Council Highways team dealt with 1,000 emergency call-outs over the last weekend in September thanks to the stormy weather. In a 52 hour period, between 5pm on the Friday and 9pm on Sunday, Highways and their sub-contractors cleared 203 trees or broken branches that had fallen onto roads or pavements. You can report any highways related problems, such as fallen trees, using the online form here: www.norfolk.gov.uk/highwaysproblems
Battling a Pandemic
As I’ve mentioned in previous reports, Norfolk County Council is the authority with oversight of Public Health locally. I get weekly updates about the Pandemic response locally and I forward those to the Parish Clerk if there is something new or noteworthy to report. If you have any concerns about the Public Health response to the Pandemic locally please do let me know: I am happy to raise those concerns with the team.
A couple of weeks ago I put a proposal to the Full Council meeting of NCC to boost the county’s annual ‘Eco Awards’ and I am pleased to say it was adopted. The awards have a tiny budget and my proposal would have added a new ‘Dragon’s Den’ style innovation prize to the awards and increased the budget. The ruling group amended my proposal to remove those specific commitments before supporting the broad thrust of my suggestion – and they have promised to involve me in the development of the new, expanded awards programme.
I’m pleased to be joining the ‘People and Communities’ committee at County Hall which oversees care services for adults and children and also education. The committee met a couple of weeks ago and received a report into educational achievement by boys: this followed a request from myself and fellow Independent councillor Sandra Squire. The report was pretty vague about what should be done to ensure boys get the most they can from their time in school so I will be keeping up the pressure for clear action.
I have also been asked to join a group that will oversee the Council’s plan to improve Special Educational Needs (SEND) provision in the county. An official inspection recently identified a number of ways in which the Council needs to improve its SEND provision. The group will oversee the work being done to deliver those improvements.
The outline of new spending cuts have been passed by Norfolk County Council’s ‘Cabinet’. Additional cuts have to be planned for because of the impact of Coronavirus on Council finances. I have asked some detailed questions about planned cuts in key areas and will keep a close eye on how the Council’s budget evolved over the next few months.
I have also criticised spending on expanding the car park at County Hall and changes to the building itself when almost no one is working there at the moment.
Following the resignation of the Local Government Minister in September, the government’s on/off plans to reorganise the structure of local government (by getting rid of either County Councils or District Councils, or both) currently seem to be off. Next month they will probably be back on again. I will let you know!