Flooding, Children’s Centres, asset disposals and a new strategy – Norfolk County Council’s November council meeting

A bad tempered meeting of Norfolk County Council today where some important things were discussed in amongst the political point scoring.

Following serious flooding in places like Northrepps in October, I asked the council leader to look at expanding the council’s grant scheme for people to protect their home from flooding. I didn’t really get much of an answer but it is something I will continue to pursue.

I also asked the council leader if he regretted closing most of Norfolk’s Children’s Centres in 2019 given that the Chancellor has announced he will be spending £500 million on opening new ‘Family Centres’ which are the same in all but name.

I asked the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services what his priorities are for investment in special school places after the Chancellor announced £2.6 billion of additional spending in his budget.

There was a debate on disposal of County Council property. I have often criticised the council for wanting only to sell assets simply to the highest bidder. Better by far to have a starting point which is that the council should be good neighbours in all it does. That means giving local communities a real say in what happens to council-owned property. Communities like Gimingham and Trimingham which fought hard to raise concerns about the disposal of former Youth and Community land between the two villages.  There was an interesting revelation in the debate that the local County Councillor will now be involved in discussions about property disposals. I welcome this and it is a shame that it wasn’t in place when the Trimingham property was sold. It is a step in the right direction but a bigger change in attitude is needed so that local people’s concerns are genuinely addressed.

The council adopted a new high level strategy. In the debate I made the point that the ruling group should adopt a new approach to decision making that would devolve power and involve people at local level. That’s a theme I will continue to pursue. You can read the strategy here: Together for Norfolk – Norfolk County Council