Posted by: tonytomkinson | April 24, 2012

The Safest County in the Country

For some years I have represented the County Council on the Police Authority. It is the job of the Authority to approve the Police Budget and to be a “Critical Friend” of the Constabulary.

For most of my time on the Authority, Norfolk has been the safest county in the country, that is true again this year.

The results achieved this year, some of which are highlighted below, ensure that Norfolk remains amongst the highest performing Constabulary.

  • Priority Crime down by 8% (or 932 fewer offences than last year
  • 20% reduction in Burglary Dwelling (or 367 fewer offences than last year)
  • 11% reduction in Robbery ( or 25 fewer offences than last year)
  • 12% reduction in Vehicle Theft (or 384 fewer offences than last year)
  • 30% reduction in ASB.

In addition the Home Office measure shows Norfolk has the lowest crime rate per 1,000 population in  the country. The County also has the sixth highest detection rate in the country.

2,223 priority crimes were reported in the fourth quarter of 2011/12, this represents an 18.4% (500 crimes) reduction from the same period last year.

Norfolk Police Motorcyclist

Posted by: tonytomkinson | April 24, 2012

More info re Last Year’s work on the County Council

In my Report of last years activities I outlined much of the work that the County Council did last year. There are several other topics that you might find of interest.

RAF Marham, Return from Afgahnistan

RAF Marham, Return from Afghanistan

During the latter part of the year a Local Enterprise Partnership was established between Norfolk and Suffolk. This LEP is designed to assist in the economic prosperity of both Counties. We need to look forward with confidence to a reversal of the current economic doldrums and this LEP is designed to assist. The Economic Development Department is our local contact with  the LEP, and if anyone has any proposals that they wish to have considered, please let me know and I will do my best to point them in the right direction.

Recently I have been assisting a working group which has been looking at the problems experienced by Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME) in obtaining loan capital. This has been a very interesting exercise and has help me to learn of some of the current problems faced by SME’s. We have interviewed banks, and other lenders to business as well as talking to some of our SME’s. The final report on this work is likely to be published in early June, and I hope it will assist business start-ups and small rural businesses in need of loan capital.

The County Fire Service has been fortunate in obtaining a grant of £10 million, for the purchase of some new fire appliances. The new appliances are to be four wheel drive machines and are primarily intended for rural areas such as ours. They will be very useful in attending remote farm locations to deal with machinery fires and other emergencies on our farms.

£190,000 has been allocated into our road`safety work, this money is for investment in road safety speed activated signs.  I can think of several locations in the Clavering Division which would benefit from this type of equipment. If you feel it would benefit your village please contact the Road Safety Team at County Hall.

In my annual report I mention the Military Covenant that we have signed with the Armed Forces, I should also have told you of the success of the “Make it Marham” campaign that we ran in the beginning of last year. But, believe me we are not complacent about that success, we know that we need to get on with the next campaign for Marham, which is to persuade the Government that Marham is the right place to locate the new Joint Strike Aircraft. The County is very appreciative of the contribution that Marham makes to a wider economy.

I think that completes a report on my own activities on your behalf, but it does not mention the work that I have been doing with the Police Authority. Please see my next Blog.

Posted by: tonytomkinson | April 5, 2012

Clavering Annual Report 2012

End of Chairman's yearAt this time of year it is usual for County Councillors to produce an annual report for the Parish Councils and residents of their Division. I thought it might be useful if I put my report on the Blog this year so that everyone in the Clavering Division would be able to read it.

My year as Chairman of  the County Council came to an end about 12 months ago, it seems like five minutes. On my return to day-to-day work as a councillor, I have been appointed to two Overview and Scrutiny Panels; Childrens’ Services and Corporate Resources.

In general terms, this must be one of the best years for the County Council (CC) since I first became a member in 2001. At the start of this four-year term it was clear that we would have to save a considerable amount of money. The economic situation in the country was dire and that reflected right down to local authorities. The Council set about looking for efficiencies, and with a business which produces nothing if is clear that efficiencies meant reducing our labour force and cutting out bureaucracy. In including schools the CC employs about 27,000 full time equivalent posts. Nobody can enjoy making people redundant, but there was no alternative if Council Tax were not to increase year on year.

Last year we reduced our expenditure by some £60 million; this is on top of the £44 million savings last year, last year April 2011) and this year (April 2012) we have not increased our share of the Council Tax you pay. We have streamlined services, obtained grants from central Government and kept our Council Tax promise; and I can confirm that we are on track for another year on no Council Tax increase next year (April 2013) and hopefully the year after that, however, that is not a promise at present.


We have done our best to look after the vulnerable in our County, by changing the method of funding care to “Personal Budget” which people can use to purchase care from alternative sources and for a variety of packages to suit their needs. Whilst some day centres have been closed, alternative arrangements have been made where these are required. We have always provided money for “Looked after Children”, many of these children are cared for outside of Norfolk. We will be upgrading our care and bringing children back into Norfolk where this is appropriate.The EDP on Monday 3rd April 2012 detailed much of the CC achievements and some aspirations. Amongst the aspirations are:- Seeking support from Gov to dual the A47, having, at last, got the go ahead to dual the A11. We believe a third river crossing at Gt Yarmouth will considerably help the economy in our County. We have been campaigning for a Better Broadband provision, – some areas have less than 2M/sec; we want as much as 35M/sec in our business centres and never less than 8M/sec on total County coverage. We are working with Abellio to improve our train services, “London in 90” is the aspiration.To move to what we have achieved:- We have obtained a grant from Gov to build a Northern By-pass for Norwich from the A47 at Postwick to the A140 Aylsham Rd; we will be adding a further £10million to extend this to the Fakenham Rd. we have agreed to enlarge the Hethel Engineering Centre to create an Advanced Manufacturing Centre. The existing centre is full, and has helped to start many new companies with more than 200 new full-time jobs. We are providing £4.5 million to support 500 apprentices in the County and £200,000 to encourage business start-ups; £891,000 to support 81 apprentices in the Norse Group, a wholly owned by the CC, service company working up and down the country for many other local authorities. (Even the Leader of the Labour group supported these aspirations in the paper on April 3rd.)

Locally, I attend as many Parish Council meetings as I can, to hear from local representatives of their concerns and aspirations.

Currently, I am supporting Haddiscoe “Stopit” campaign, to try  to prevent a gravel extraction site p

roposal which is far too intrusive in the village. The waste landfill site at Aldeby is currently scheduled to close in August 2012, now there is a proposal to extend that to 2018 to finish the “Restoration” of the site. This seems far too long to do this work and it should be possible to complete the process much sooner. I will be supporting the Parish when this comes to Committee.

Speeding in our rural villages is a continual problem, I am working with other agencies to see what can be done, but sadly, lack of funds make this very difficult. DRIVERS MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.

£3.5 million has been set aside for improvements to our roads, to repair the damaged roads and footways. Damaged by the ravages of the last two winters. And £300,000 for additional road surface treatment.

Last year I supported the Armed Forces as Chairman of the Council, the CC has signed a Covenant with the armed services. To assist them in their return to civilian life, to provide support to families when they are away from their bases. We will provide Blue Badge parking passes, without charge for any service man or woman injured or wounded in the course of their duties. Hopefully there will be more news about this next month, which I can’t share with you now.

When the Light Dragoons return from their tour of duty in Afghanistan, we will offer them a Civic Reception in County Hall. The Covenant includes an agreement for a Hero’s welcome Scheme, which encourages businesses to promise service men and women a warm welcome.

But, this time next year, because of changes in the local political make-up and method of selection of candidates for election,  which means all seats are up for grabs, which I do not support. Not to mention my own advancing age, I will be standing down at the end of this term in 2013 and not seeking re-election.

Thank you all, for giving me the opportunity of representing you. Thank you to the Parish Councils, Members and Clerks who have always been very helpful and kept me in touch with local issues.

 

 

Tony Tomkinson, County Councillor for the Clavering Division.

Posted by: tonytomkinson | April 3, 2012

Planning refusal for sand and gravel

On 16th March the County Planning Committee refused an application for the removal of sand and gravel in Methwold. The number of this application is C/2/2008/2026:Methwold:Methwold Warren.

I will quote from the application.

Under 2. Constraints
2.1 The site has no specific allocation within the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Core Strategy proposals map (South area). The Norfolk Minerals and Waste LDF Specific Allocations DPD Revised Issues and Options Report (May 2011) does not identify the site as one of those likely to be allocated for additional minerals extraction. The site is within the Breckland Forest Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the Breclland Special Protection Area (SPA).
The Officer’s Recommendation started with these words:-
It is recommended that the Director of Environment, Transport and Development be authorised to refuse planning permission for the following reason;

“In the opinion of the County Planning Authority, there are more appropriate potential sand and gravel sites available to meet the County’s needs (as have been identified through the pre-submission stage of the Norfolk Minerals and Site Specific Allocations Development Plan Document)……………..”

Everyone must get behind the work of “Stopit” to get the application for a Gravel Extraction Site at Haddiscoe refused.
As soon as I am aware of the hearing dates I will let you all know.

Posted by: tonytomkinson | February 19, 2012

This years Budget 2012

Last week County Council approved the Budget for the year 2012/3. I’m pleased to tell you that the Council will not be increasing Council Tax for the second year running, and have promised not to raise it next year as well. However, there is a sad note to that proposal for some people, we need to make savings of some £44 million, and to do this will mean that there will be a lot of jobs lost. Sadly, this cannot be avoided if we are to achieve the necessary savings. There is quite a lot of good news attached to the Budget, and I list some of the highlights below.

  • £3.5 million investment in road maintenance to allow in  the region of 100km more of Norfolk’s roads to be surface treated next year. This sum will boost both the road suface dressing and resurfacing programmes – and help reduce the number of potholes suffered by motorists.
  • £5.4 million to provide an extra 40 places for “looked after’ Children in Norfolk, so only those for whom it is in their best interests will have to live outside of the county, and provide additional support for children and young people at risk of coming into care.
  • £3.0 million to provide apprenticeships for young people who are struggling to get a foot on the employment ladder.
  • £0.5 million to support work placements for young people, to help break the cycle of no-experience, no job.
  • £0.51 million for 24/7 free travel for eligible blind pass holders and free travel for companion pass holders.
  • £0.51 million saving from increased County Farm rental income, to support the above.
  • £0.123 million for public rights of way. Last year we reduced spending on public rights of way, and introduced a new approach which focuses on Norfolk Trails and enforcement. Recognising the vital role that public rights of way have to play in tourism, recreation and mobility for Norfolk, we do not propose to go forward with the planned saving, instead use the funding to support our strategy and enhance our work with landowners.

There is to be additional money for libraries, money to support the changes that were agreed last year for the day care of older people. We are determined that Norfolk will continue to be a leading Council for the care of all of our citizens from the youngest, the most vulnerable, to the eldest and help them to stay independent for longer.

 

Posted by: tonytomkinson | January 21, 2012

Better Broadband for Norfolk

In May 2011 Norfolk County Council was successful in its bid to secure Government funding to help provide improved broadband speeds and access across Norfolk. The Council wants to keep people informed and updated about the project and the work that is underway to provide better broadband services in the County. This is particularly important for the many small villages in the Clavering Division. Many small businesses are run from rural areas, farmers are getting more information from the internet and using it for their business, single traders can work from home in our villages much more easily if the broadband service is speeded up. Lastly, many villages across Norfolk lack even a basic broadband service.

So, the County Council has launched a “Say YES to Better Broadband” campaign, which means you can register your interest in receiving the broadband services provided by the Better Broadband for Norfolk Project.

When you register there is no obligation to buy a broadband service – you will simply be helping to demonstrate to potential private sector partners that demand for better broadband exists.

HOW DO I REGISTER MY INTEREST? 

In the villages of the Clavering Division, you can fill in a form on the internet, there is one for businesses and one for residents, the online website is to be found at www.norfolk.gov.uk/sayyesnorfolk,  where you can also find out a lot more information about the campaign.

Posted by: tonytomkinson | January 12, 2012

HADDISCOE GRAVEL EXTRACTION PROPOSAL

The County Council Mineral Extraction Plans are moving forward towards final agreement and submission to the Secretary of State. However, as residents of Haddiscoe will know, the current planning application for approval of the Haddiscoe Pit will be considered by the Planning Committee before the Plan is adopted by all parties. At a recent Cabinet meeting the following was reported to Cabinet:-

The apportionment figures in Policy CS1 run for 17 years from the beginning of 2010 until the end of 2026, but as the sand and gravel landbank as at 31/12/2010 is now known, the apportionment figure can be updated to take this into account. In addition, there have been several new planning permissions granted, and the expiration of two planning permissions. As a result, the total minimum sand and gravel to be allocated is 27,305,000 tonnes, covering the years 2011-2026.

The Pre-submission Minerals Site Specific Allocations DPD (Appendix 3) allocates 26 sites for sand and gravel extraction, totalling approximately 27,700,000 tonnes. Whilst it is acknowledged that this is a slight ‘over-allocation’ of about 395,000 tonnes, this is equivalent to less than two months’ expected extraction. In addition there is the safeguard in Policy CS1 of a sand and gravel landbank ceiling of 10 years’ supply (25,700,000 tonnes), so there is no question of an excessive number of quarries being permitted and able to operate at any one time.

There are six sites proposed for allocation in the DPD, within South Norfolk, These six do not include Haddiscoe!

I would like to thank all those residents who have shared their thoughts with me about the proposals above, I have now received about 100 letters and these will go with me to the Planning Meeting when this site comes before the Committee. MANY THANKS.

Posted by: tonytomkinson | January 9, 2012

Glebeland Primary School

Recently Glebeland School had a visit from the OFSTED Inspectors, their report will be available shortly, you may view it through the Ofsted Website, go to http:www.ofsted.gov.uk/school/for-school-inspection-report.

Posted by: tonytomkinson | January 6, 2012

Norfolk County Council 2012

As we move into the new year it is right that we reflect on the delivery achievements of  the council in this period of financial difficulty. It is by no means a sad story, and I am proud to be associated with much of list below.

During the financial year 2011/12 the Council has secured savings of some £60,000,000. We are undergoing an incredible transformation of services, with about 111 change programmes underway. In April last year we did not increase our share of the Council Tax, we will not be increasing it this year 2012, and are not proposing to increase it in 2013. Three years running without any increase in the County Council’s share of the Council Tax.

Even with all of this money being saved we have found our selves able to invest £58 million of Capital Grants into Norfolk’s economy.

We have been successful in our Broadband bid, one of the first councils to be successful, and our £15 million has been matched by central Government. In due course this should lead to 99% of the County having a much faster broadband service.

We led a successful “Make it Marham” campaign, to keep the RAF with an active base in the County.

We have been successful in attracting a grant of £89.5 million towards the cost of the Northern Distributor Road, making journeys easier for commuters and commercial companies.

We have invested £10 million into new fire appliances, some lighter weight four wheel drive vehicles, which will be of considerable help in accessing rural and farm fires. We now have some of the best fire appliances in the country.

Unlike many other County Councils, we in Norfolk have been closed or were even threatened with closure.

So far we have collected over 14,000 signatures for our Fair Fares Campaign, a campaign that has been adopted by several other Counties. This campaign, if successful, will mean that we will not have to fund the “Bus Pass” for the over 60’s from Council Tax income. If you have not heard of this campaign, look it up on the NCC web site and sign the petition please.

The final part of the A11 is to be duelled, work has already started on site, in no small part the 16,000 signatures on our petition helped.

With all of this success last year we start 2012 with some innovative ideas to support our young people and provide extra funding for highway repairs. We will continue our positive endeavours for the residents of Norfolk, and this Administration will never be afraid to “Do Different”.

Very best wishes to all of the residents of the Clavering Division of Norfolk from me, your County Councillor.

 

Posted by: tonytomkinson | December 26, 2011

Haddiscoe Pit proposal

To the residents of Haddiscoe and all those who love living in the countryside, Good Morning, I hope you enjoyed your Christmas. Today is Boxing Day, an appropriate day you may think for writing this Blog Post, not that I’m looking for a fight but there may be one facing us later this year.

Everyone in the village should be aware of my own feelings about the Pit proposals, I have ruled myself out of any possibility of sitting on the Planning Committee by publicly stating my opposition to the proposals now to go before the Planning Committee. Norfolk County Council recently consulted on a future waste and mineral strategy. This has not formally been accepted at this stage by the County Council but every intermediate stage we have gone through recommends that this site should not be considered acceptable. to me this indicates that there will not be an officer recommendation. However, we should remain vigilant and do all that we can to make sure this is not approved.

The STOPIT campaign has written, as have many of the residents of the village, to the County Council indicating their opposition to the planning application. I do not know when this will come before the Committee, except to say that it will not be on the agenda for the next meeting on January 6th, the dates of the next two meetings are February 10th and March 2nd. I will post the information on this Blog as soon as I know the agenda.

 

There are rules for speaking at the County Council Planning meetings, briefly they are as follows. it is essential that you give written notice of your intention to speak. This should be addressed to Head of Democratic Services, Norfolk County Council, Martineau Lane, Norwich, NR1 2DH. There is limited speaking time allowed for members of the public, A total of 15 minutes is provided for objectors, in exceptional circumstances the Chairman can use their discretion to allow more time. This is followed by District and/or Parish Council representatives. and those from any other public body. The County Councillor representing the Division speaks last, he/she is allowed 5 minutes, please be assured it is my intention to use up all of my allowed speaking time. 5 minutes is allowed for each group, so it is extremely helpful to nominate one person from each group to speak on your behalf.

Myself and District Councillor William Kemp

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