LETS DANCE

Talented young dancers aged 5 – 16 years showed off their skills to an admiring audience at a sharing event to mark the third anniversary of the youth dance programme supported by Breckland Council. The evening celebrated the many projects, performances and achievements of the dance groups since the opening of the studio in 2011.

All three of the contemporary dance classes based at Litcham Dance Studio took part in the performance. The youngest, ‘Little Steps’ (5-7 years) used the inspiration of weather;  ‘Stepping Stones’ (8 – 11 years) explored the themes of friendship and bullying, whilst the ‘Rural Pulse’  (12 – 16 years) inspired the audience with a performance theme of aiming high and reaching your potential.

Set in the grounds of Litcham School, the Studio was built to provide a first class dance facility for both the school and the wider community. It has a 180 sq m semi-sprung floor, mirrored walls and a state of the art sound system.

Professional dancer Xenoula Eleftheriades, who teaches at the Studio said “It is particularly rewarding to see children being inspired to dance at a young age and staying with the classes into their teens. We are very excited to see some of our more advanced dancers looking into auditioning for the DanceEast Centre”.

The classes are supported by funding from Breckland Council.

Lynda Turner, Breckland Council Executive Member for Community and Environmental Services said: “It is important that we support and develop the creative skills of our young people. For many children, once they have a taste of dance, they are completely hooked and the excellent facilities here combined with expert teaching provides them with the support and inspiration they need to continue”

Since opening the Studio has staged many successful performances throughout Norfolk, including Narborough Hall, the Norwich Playhouse, The Forum, The Garage and The Lord Mayors Show.

Classes for the summer term begin with a free taster session on 1st May and the ten week term beginning on the 8th May and children can sign up now. For more information about the timings and cost of the dance classes go to www.breckland.gov.uk/youthdance or call 01362 656870.

 

40 YEARS OF BRECKLAND

40 years ago today, Breckland Council took over as the district authority for 
this area.  Happy Birthday Us!

We were formed as a result of the Local Government Act 1972, which brought in 
larger district councils, and abolished many of the old authorities.

Residents of the former Borough of Thetford, Urban Districts of Dereham and 
Swaffham, and Rural Districts of Wayland, Mitford and Launditch, and Swaffham 
woke up to find themselves part of Breckland.  (And yes, there really were 2 
authorities with Swaffham in their name....)

It wasn't as big a change as happened to 6 parishes in Suffolk - they woke up to 
find themselves part of Norfolk County, and Great Yarmouth Borough - or 
Monmouthshire, which finally became part of Wales in law.

The new districts had held their first elections in June 1973, and operated on a 
shadow basis for 9 months, until they took over on 1st April 1974. 

The moves were controversial in some areas, with bonfires lit at midnight in 
Berkshire to protest at the Uffington White Horse moving to Oxfordshire.

So happy birthday to us!
 

MEET THE MASTER GARDENERS

This bunch of green-fingered growers will soon be out and about, using their knowledge to nurture novice gardeners, and kick off the two-year Breckland Master Gardeners project.

 Last weekend these experienced gardeners and food-growers completed a training course run by Dr Anton Rosenfeld and Gabbie Joyce from the leading growing charity Garden Organic. Covering diverse topics such as health and safety, organic growing, giving demonstrations and easy crops for quick results, the course was designed to provide the Breckland Master Gardeners with all the skills they will need. Following the training, each will act as a mentor for Breckland households, offering 12 months of free support to those who would like to grow their own food.

 Gabbie Joyce from Garden Organic said: “We now have 21 Breckland Master Gardeners who can’t wait to get out there and share their passion for growing food. They are all experienced growers and this weekend was about consolidating what they already knew. A true gardener never stops learning and is always keen to learn more!”

 Lynda Turner, Breckland Council Executive Member for Community and Environmental Services said: “You don’t need to have grand ambitions – you could just start small with pots of herbs and salad leaves by the kitchen door. Do what is achievable within your daily routine and enjoy the results”.

 The Breckland Master Gardeners project, which is funded by Breckland Council and the Health and Wellbeing Board and managed by Garden Organic, is part of a national programme supporting new home-food growers.

 To find out where your nearest Breckland Master Gardener is based, contact Gabbie Joyce on 07584 583803, email gjoyce@gardenorganic.org.uk or look on the website www.norfolk.mastergardeners.org.uk

LOTS TO DO FOR CHILDREN

A packed Easter holiday timetable of activities for children now offers something for mums too, as 2014 sees the launch of Breckland’s new women-only bootcamps.

 Children aged five to eleven years attending the Rural Sports Programme sessions can try their hand at range of activities including kwik cricket, rounders, dodgeball and relay races, whilst their mums can sign up for the ‘Bootcamp’. These outdoor sessions, run by local provider ‘Blackdress Bootcamp’, are available to those dropping off their children for the Sports Programme and are suitable for women of all levels of physical fitness. Exercises are designed to include youngsters under three years if they are happy to spend the majority of the session in their buggies.

 

The two-hour Sports Camp sessions are delivered by qualified professionals and cost £2.50 per child; there is no additional charge for Bootcamp. Parents may leave their children if they complete a parental consent form and children should bring a drink and wear loose, comfortable clothing.

 For children who prefer creative activities, artist Caitlin Howells uses the inspiration of ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ to get youngsters creating their own magical miniature garden. These Art Activity sessions are suitable for children aged 5 – 9 years and are free of charge. Booking is recommended and children must be accompanied by an adult.

 Lynda Turner, Breckland Council Executive Member for Community and Environmental Services said: “Children living in rural areas don’t have the same access to activities as those living in cities or larger towns, and we have put together a holiday programme that offers both sports and arts activities. Increasing female participation in Sports and Physical Activity is a national priority for Sport Englandso this year we’re focussing on mums too, and our Bootcamps provide the opportunity to get fit, make friends and have fun”.

 More information about Breckland’s holiday activity programme can be found on the Council website www.breckland.gov.uk; ; click on the link to the communities section on the left hand side of the home page, and then click on the ‘Holiday Activities’ icon. Alternatively, contact Stefan Clifford (stefan.clifford@breckland.gov.uk) for sports activities or Samantha Patel (samantha.patel@breckland.gov.uk) for arts activities on 01362 656870.

 

BACK IN HARNESS

After a few weeks ill and recovering I am now back to operating properly. Thank you to all who sent me good wishes.

Will be posting regularly from tomorrow

COUNCIL TAX

MORE DETAILS ON COUNCIL TAX, AS ALWAYS HAPPY TO DISCUSS IN PARISH MEETINGS OR ELEWHERE

Council Tax:

Comparative FiguresAll of the Norfolk District Councils’ have now set their council tax rates for the new financial year, 2014 -2015. As can be seen from the table below, the council tax charged by Breckland Council is by far the lowest in Norfolk and remains the lowest district council tax in the country. While maintaining the lowest district council tax, Breckland does provide a level of spending on the provision of services that is commensurate with that of councils’ of a similar profile.

As the responsible collecting authority, Breckland collects the precepts on behalf of, Norfolk County Council, the Norfolk Police Authority and the town and parish councils’ within the district. This role can sometimes be a cause of confusion, as the name of Breckland Council appears at the head of the council tax bill; this leads some to claim that Breckland does not have the lowest district council tax.

In fact Breckland’s council tax is lower than that of some parish councils’.  For example, the 2013-2014 Band D precept in: Whissonsett – £84.58; New Buckenham – £82.70 and Weasenham All saints – £126.86

As I reported last month, as a consequence of reductions in central government support, Breckland is facing a forecast shortfall in funding of approximately £1.3 million in 2016-2017. However, by innovating new methods of service delivery and generating additional income, it s hoped that the funding gap will be closed, and that the Council will be able to provide a similar level of service provision.

Council Tax – Band D: Norfolk Districts’ Comparative Figures

 

 

Council Council Tax:

2013 -2014

£

% change:

2013 -2014

£ weekly

change:

2014-2015

£ Annual

change:

2014-2015

District Council Tax:

2014 – 2015

£

Breckland

 

    69.03   0.00     0.00        0.00            69.03
Broadland

 

  111.15   0.00     0.00        0.00          111.15
Gt Yarmouth

 

  146.48   0.00     0.00        0.00          146.48
King’s Lynn

 

  111.97   0.00     0.00        0.00          111.97
North Norfolk

 

  138.87   0.00     0.00        0.00          138.87
Norwich

 

  230.27   1.95     0.09        4.49          234.74
South Norfolk

 

  130.68

 

 

  0.00     0.00        0.00          130.68

 

CONGRATULATIONS BAWDESWELL

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM

HAVING A LOCAL CELEBRATION OR REMEMBRANCE EVENT FOR THE CENTENARY OF THE START OF WWI YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR A BRECKLAND GRANT

We will remember them

In the year that marks the centenary of one of history’s most terrible wars, communities across the land are planning to mark the occasion and commemorate the millions of young lives that were lost.

A new ‘World War One Heritage Fund’ has been set up by Breckland Council to support local projects that explore, share and conserve the heritage of the First World War in the district.

Lynda Turner, Breckland Council Executive Member for Community and Environmental Services said: “Marking this centenary reminds us all of the terrible consequences of war and of the sacrifices made. The ‘World War One Heritage Fund’ provides grants of up to £500 to support residents and organisations who wish to develop community projects that mark the centenary of the Great War”.

Grants are available to support a wide range of projects such documenting the war through film or audio recordings, collecting personal stories and memories of those affected by the war, staging exhibitions, producing books or organising talks.

Guidance notes and application forms are on the Breckland Council website www.breckland.gov.uk

For more information, contact Breckland Council Communities Officer, Samantha Patel on 01362 656870; email samantha.patel@breckland.gov.uk

WHY I AM SOMETIMES SILENT

It was suggested to me this morning on twitter that conservative members on Breckland had little to say, Well I cannot speak for others but I would like to say why I often say less in the Full Council meeting than I might,  I am sure many would answer in a similar way

1/ I belong to the ruling party at Breckland and as such I might be considered to be in general agreement with policy and therefore proposals placed before council

2/ Most items at Full Council have gone through the Committee’s before getting that far, in that time I have certainly had my say, representing both my opinion on the matter and reflecting the voters in the ward I represent

3/ In addition to specific main Committees which I belong to, General Purposes, Member Development and Licensing which I also chair, I always attend Cabinet and Scrutiny being the areas where most policies are hammered out and I assure you I always speak in those forums. I am far from silent as a member, and I feel that I am often influential. I attend other committees less frequently, but always where a matter pertaining to my ward is discussed

4/ After saying that I am usually in general agreement with conservative policies, I am not shy to speak out against them if I do not. In my time at Breckland I called in the Parish Grant Proposals as you know, I also fought very hard against the LDF and one or two other matters in the past. In addition of course I also take concerns directly to the Cabinet members which is a right of all councillors

5/ I tend to be not too political in meetings, but I was tempted to have some fun with your ‘faux pa’ in Council yesterday but restrained myself, perhaps next time I will twist your tail a bit

6/ I am first and foremost a Ward member and seek to represent all flavours of political opinion within the ward

 

CONGRATULATIONS BRECKLAND MEMBERS

In the ten years I have been a Breckland Councillor I have always promoted Member Training. It has now been confirmed that Breckland Councillors are among the best trained in the country.If I may congratulate myself along with others I do so

Breckland’s councillors have been recognised as some of the best-trained and skilled in the country after the council maintained its “trailblazing” performance under the Charter Plus accreditation scheme.

 The council was described as trailblazing by assessors when they first gained Charter Plus status in 2010 but the training and development award lasts only three years, after which councils have to re-apply and undergo stringent re-assessments to demonstrate further progress if they are to re-gain the Charter Plus designation.

 The award was presented to the council’s Member Trainer Leanne Neave at this week’s (February 27) full council meeting by Cllr. Tony Jackson, Chairman of the East of England Local Government Association and Leader of East Hertfordshire District Council.

 Cllr. Trevor Carter, who chairs Breckland’s Member Development Panel, said: “We are delighted by this recognition for all the work that has been done by council members and by our officer to ensure that our councillors perform their duties to the best of their ability and have all the training and support they need to help them do that.

 “The level of voluntary involvement by councillors was outstanding and the officer’s dedication was truly remarkable. I’m very pleased to see Leanne Neave’s efforts get the recognition they deserve.”

 Newly-elected councillors are asked to fill in self-assessment questionnaires on their induction day and all councillors are asked to complete them annually thereafter. The questionnaires ask them to list their strengths and the areas where their skills could be improved.

 “The target for Charter Plus is a return rate of 60%. Our return rate is approximately 98%. Only 13 councils throughout England have achieved Charter Plus status; just three of those are in the East of England and of those, only Breckland District Council and Waveney District Council have been re-awarded Charter Plus status.”

 Member training covers skills such as chairing meetings, public speaking, computer software training, time management, dealing with complex queries from constituents, and effective communication, including media interviews and social media.

 The rigorous re-examination of the council’s commitment to member training and development involved a team of assessors lead by Mark Palmer, Development Director of the awarding body South East Employers. The assessors interviewed Member Trainer Leanne Neave, Chief Executive Geoff Rivers, Leader of the Council Michael Wassell and Opposition Leader Terry Jermy, as well as the Member Development Panel including Cllr. Carter.

 Assessors also held a workshop for backbench councillors to check that the message on training, development and support permeated the whole council and was seen to be entirely non-political.

 Member Officer Leanne Neave said she was thrilled to be receiving the award on the council’s behalf: “We have come a long way in a short space of time. In 2006 we recognized that work needed to be done on member training and development, so a team was put in place, a Member Development Panel was set up and we achieved Charter status in 2008. We decided to go for the much more rigorous Charter Plus in 2010 and got it.

 “This time, the assessors said we were still a leading authority for member development. To achieve this again given the current economic situation shows that, even in this climate, we can still progress and still do more to make sure our members are continually supported to be the best councillors they can be and are never simply left to get on with it.”

 

 

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The views expressed on this website are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Conservative Councillors' Association or the Conservative Party.