On Thursday I attended the 79th annual conference of the Association of Drainage Boards in my role as Breckland Representative on Norfolk Rivers IDB.
Attending events like this gives me the unique opportunity to question directly political leaders including this year Dr Therese Coffey MP. I raised with her matters of demaining which do affect areas of the district in this IDB and in fact others also. We also, heard from, Emma Howard Chairman of the EA, Minette Batters from the NFU, John Curtin from the EA, Steve Willis from Lincolnshire CC, David Cooper from DEFRA, Neil Parish MP representing ERFA and others. From earlier reports you will be aware that I have been pressing the EA for some years on the matter of demaining, mainly because of their lack of attention to maintenance of our local rivers. NRIDB has been actively seeking to take over some 1500 kilometres of main river for four years or so. This would be at a minimum cost and would assist with the duties which are placed upon it. The IDB is engaged in protecting communities as well as agricultural land. Dr Coffey has promised me action, we will have to wait and see.
It is an interesting fact that the last so called 100 year storm was in August 1912 when over 12 inches of rain fell in a single 24 hour period in the North of Breckland, the one before that was in August 1797. On both these occasions towns and villages in our District and the city of Norwich flooded to many feet. With lack on maintenance when we get the next one, it will happen again.
As always this was an interesting and lively conference and apart from asking questions to the Minister I was able to give some assistance to some Yorkshire IDB’s, renew contacts with Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire IDB’s and hopefully get an invitation to visit the Bedfordshire group of IDB’s in the New Year, as they are the leading practitioners of SUDS in the UK in cooperation with the planning authority. This will be particularly useful in my new role at Breckland. Water is a resource which we find each summer is increasingly difficult to find enough of, but also, during each year we find that we have too much. Seasonal flooding plus that from extreme weather is a constant fear for many of our residents. It is also a fact that our farmers are facing increasing fees for extraction for crops and livestock. Norfolk Rivers IDB , working with our partners in the WMA is constantly seeking to balance these factors. We are also among the leading conservation bodies doing work not just on our own catchment but also for such as the EA, NE, local authorities and private individuals with watercourses whether or not they are ‘our’ drains, and on a recharge basis.
As always I attend early and visit the trade show connected to the AGM, whilst there I saw the new Rain Activ-Sustainable Drainage Solution which is suitable for smaller schemes starting at just over £2000 and with a minimal discharge rate would be acceptable for use in discharging to most IDB systems local to here. Information on this is in the latest ADA Gazette which I will place in St Georges room on Tuesday for members to refer to. If any member wants further information or a sight of the annual report and accounts please do ask
Cabinet change over yesterday. I am no longer holder for people and information ( public safety and IT) but moved to Growth (planning and housing) which includes the new Local Plan which is well on it’s way through already so only final stages and last consultations before submission to go. Will find out this week just how long that will take.
Like many councillors I first came on to the council with an urge to tackle planning, soon learning that it is not actually broken (at least too much) and after thirteen and a half years I am relatively comfortable in the new role. It will certainly be a challenge alongside everything else going on in Breckland at the moment.
Picking up the reins today and tomorrow, handing over old job Thursday and Friday so will be making reports then
This is one of those weeks where I am not too busy, at least during the day, on council business, so hoping to get a few other things done. I do however have meetings for the council on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday evenings and Friday lunchtime.
Last night was a Parish Council meeting in Bisley. Interesting as always and good to see a really positive attitude to running an efficient parish. There is a new Clerk who has only had a few months in office, but is really getting to grips with her post.
Tonight I will be at the Licensing of a new vicar in part of the ward. This will be off the Ward as it is in Weston Longville church. It is always good to be able to welcome new people into the leadership of the ward in whatever capacity and those with a moral and spiritual responsibility particularly so. There is actually another similar event in Bawdeswell on Thursday next week. This is caused by the formation of two new “super benefices” across the area. The Church of England does do this sort of thing well and is is a privilege to be asked as a District Councillor to attend.
Thursday will be training in Breckland – we can never really get enough of this as councillors have such a wide brief we can only keep on top if we spend time learning
Friday will be meeting some of the departments in Breckland who have achieved much during our transformation programme. This is our way of finding out exactly what differing departments have done and to say thank you. Transformation is something which will save our taxpayers around 10%+ as we move into the future.
Saturday will be for family. I will be in charge at my daughters shop in Elm Hill Norwich for the day. Its called Stoned and Hammered but has nothing to do with drink and drugs – its all about high end, unique hand made jewellery, so drop in and buy something so I can prove I am more than a stop-gap.
It is my understanding that every community leadership was invited, plus it was advertised in the press plus every town and parish councillor in Breckland was aware, plus everyone in Breckland has a Breckland councillor who is, as it were, assigned to you ( in some cases two or three) whom you can consult on and lobby with your views, I know members of the public in my ward do this to me.
Yes we do have to consult, but H***** and C*****, we have certainly gone the extra mile in this consultation. I know I am in the cabinet and in the ‘ruling’ party, I have never hid this and also never sought to not ‘rock the boat’. You know this..!
Of course I am a conservative, more, a working class conservative. I am not a socialist because, as I saw early in life, that the problems with that are far greater than being a conservative with a social conscience.
The new local plan has to fulfil a lot of conditions against the national plan but all comments will not only be looked at by Breckland Council but also the Planning Inspector who has a duty to read and account for them all. No not much has come out since the document was published, of course not, it is still going on until Monday, then it will be compiled into a submission document and published, submitted and hopefully approved enabling this council to be in a situation of having a full land supply and the subsequent protection of an approved local plan.
Of course we will not all get our own way, but sitting through ALL of those hours of meetings, when most drifted in and out, I do know that of the over 100 communities in Breckland a vast majority are accepting that we are getting close to being right for the majority. In these meetings Thetford was one of the most accepting communities..? Derham has a great problem which is in fact not directly connected to the plan although it does materially affect it, and I am not dismissing this and have attended at least two meetings which deal directly with it. A handful of communities, including two in my ward do have relevant issues with the plan and no doubt these will be worked through to mutual satisfaction or at least acceptance.
To M**** I would say, if Breckland stop listening, then keep talking. You have a town Council plus seven Breckland members two of whom are also County Councillors. That is a huge representation within Breckland who you voted for last time and they all hope you will vote for them next time. Use your resource. Last year I spent a lot of time in Thetford and I have a huge respect for the town and its people. I expect to be there again next week. But to say that this planning consultation has not been diligent in its openness to all opinions is plain wrong
MY THOUGHTS ON THE LOCAL PLAN CONSULTATION
Since the issue ‘hotted up’ in May and not counting the many meetings over 2+ years before and apart from the many regular Breckland meetings, Cabinet, OSC and Council for instance and all of my parish meetings in my ward I have attended some 11 public meetings where the matter of Local plan was the main or only issue. and at all of these the public was able to contribute. 6 of these held right across the district were specifically to listen to the public and take note of concerns. I was on the panel for all of these 6 meetings which amounted to between 24 and 30 hours of discussion with anyone who turned up, many did. There has also been a huge number of officer consultations across the district in all the towns (at least twice in each) and many villages each lasting for 4 to 6 hours and drop in sessions (I attended 4)
None of these meeting was closed before every person present had had their say. All Breckland communities from the largest to the smallest were able to attend and individuals with an interest. Questions raised have been answered in many ways.
In addition the latest consultation is open to all by post, telephone, website and email, all comments made in this will be included on the documents to go to an inspector next year.
In what way is this not a consultation in the usual sense of the word?
The new local plan will affect us all and between now and 30th October we have the very last chance to influence or challenge what is happening in our communities. THIS PLAN LASTS TO 2036.
Below is the list of public drop in events around the district where you will be able to see the plan as it affects your village and any other you are interested in. It is open to all parish council members and clerks, plus interested parishioners, so please make it known to interested parishioners as well. Feel free to publish on your websites.
The dates do not suit me very well but I expect to be at part of the meeting in Bawdeswell, part of the two meetings in Dereham (29th & 19th) and part of the meeting in Mileham, these being closest to our ward. Fitting these around other meetings where I am representing the ward on other matters.
Bill and I have worked hard to introduce to the new plan policies which both protect and enhance the abilities of smaller communities with their planning needs. Breckland is estimated to have a need for almost 15,000 new homes over the next twenty years and whilst many of these will be accommodated in the sustainable urban extensions proposed for Thetford and Attleborough, some will be needed throughout the district including in our ward. We have been pleased to speak on this in many parish meetings over the last several months and will continue to do so over the next six weeks of the consultation, but if you have questions please do ask. The entire local plan is now online, there will be at least one copy in every village and of course at every drop in meeting.
You are free to drop in to any meeting across the district and speak to planners who will have your village information with them. It is a drop in so stay as long or short a time as you wish but bear in mind a lot will be calling as they leave of work etc.
Contact me directly if you want more information
Public drop-in events
|Monday 26 September, 2- 6pm||Thetford Carnegie Room|
|Wednesday 28 September, 2-8pm||Bawdeswell Village Hall|
|Thursday 29 September, 2-8pm||Dereham Memorial Hall|
|Tuesday 4 October, 2-8pm||Watton Sports Centre|
|Wednesday 5 October, 2-7:30pm||New Buckenham Village Hall|
|Thursday 6 October, 2-8pm||Attleborough Town Hall|
|Monday 10 October, 2-8pm||Mileham Village Hall|
|Wednesday 12 October,2-7pm||Swaffham Assembly Halls|
|Monday 17 October, 2-8pm||Watton Sports Centre|
|Wednesday 19 October, 2-8pm||Dereham Memorial Hall|
|Thursday 20 October, 2-8pm||Thetford Carnegie Room|
|Monday 24 October, 2-8pm||Great Hockham Village Hall|
|Tuesday 25 October, 2-8pm||Attleborough Town Hall|
|Wednesday 26 October, 2-8pm||Swaffham Assembly Halls|
Here is part of my statement of belief in us coming out of Europe. It’s not jingoistic nor is it driving fear, but is based on a lifetime seeing what harm being IN has done to us as a nation. I suppose it is hard not to indulge in a bit of jingo-ism when faced with the half truths and misleading statements put out by many pro EU’er’s
There are many reasons why I think that leaving the EU is right for this country. In fact I have not heard a single overriding reason why we should stay in. The ‘remain’ campaign has majored on fear of the unknown. To anyone over the age of say 65 it is known.
My main reason is that we return to being a democracy. Anyone who was not an adult in the period 1970-75 when we were deceived into making a wrong choice probably cannot understand this. We had before us two options, not out or in but join with EFTA or EEC. It is interesting that the leaders of the two major political parties at that time both agreed on the EEC. We do know why.
Since 1975 year by year the freedoms of the British people have been salami sliced away. Year on year a bit more is taken, and if we are foolish enough to vote to remain in, a huge additional chunk of freedoms will disappear within the next five years. The EU acts in the same way as a dictatorship, personal and national freedoms are eroded and never is there any relief at all in this. We also see throughout Europe a return of both Facism and Communism. We see the EFTA country of Norway saying that it wants to close its border with EU Sweden. This has been fairly open for centuries with the exception of 1940-44. (If we had joined EFTA it would have been that much more powerful and greater than the (EEC) EU has become without the political implications.) If however we come out, it will cause a bit of pain, but not as much as some predict and within one year of the final leave we will be emerging as a free, powerful and successful nation. No short term cost is to great to pay for that.
So my overriding concern is democracy or freedom and this out shines all other reasons.
On other matters.
Borders. We are a small island with a greater population density than our major neighbours. We must, if we want to survive in our present form, have to have some kind of border control. We must be able to repatriate criminals and illegals, be they from Europe or the wider world. This does not mean that workers who can and will and do contribute to our communities could or should be barred. We have always imported workers from the wider world for certain occupations and will continue to do so. We will also seek and need a continued immigration system, but it should be geared to our peculiar circumstances within the continent which we will remain a part.
Our farmer’s have concerns because of the EU subsidies. They should also remember, they have to live with unreasonable restrictions and rules. I also suggest that when we are OUT measures will also be in place to ease the journey to a prosperous agricultural industry within the British economy. I was talking to a number of farmer’s recently, one who said to me “my heart and head say come out, but my wallet says stay in.” I asked where do you vote then, he said – out.
On the economy. The fear tactics of trade embargoes are just not credible. We have a trade deficit with the EU and in particular with countries like France, Germany, Italy, Spain and so on. Trade embargoes against us could be reciprocated with the resultant charges used to protect our business. This will not happen, our neighbours are not fools. and never forget that we, each one, pay £1 per day NET for the privilege (if thats the word) for belonging. Thats £55 million plus each day. Paid it to an organisation which is so corrupt it has never been audited or produced accounts. Almost like FIFA? Also when out we will be able to negotiate our own deals with the wider world, as we did in the past, but not allowed now.
On trade and industry. There seems to be a fear that we will lose a number of major industries. This is I believe – bunkum. There will be additional freedom from red tape and pettifogging rules imposed by the EU. Like for example straight cucumbers and measuring system which is not the same as around the world. The English nation has always been the most entrepreneurial, inventive and industrial nation in history. Add to this our contribution to the arts and social contributions, we will never be overshadowed by our larger neighbour, which is in any event heading into meltdown. Compare us if you will to Japan or Canada. but we are better traders and more innovative than either of those
On Law. English Law is still be best in the world and is vastly different to that used on the continent. Here you are innocent until proven guilty, not in rest of EU. Yet we are moving ever closer to their way of doing things. Perceived conflicts in courts are because they are incompatible
On Justice. we are seen to have the most humane justice system in the world, vastly different from our European neighbours in every respect. This is being undermined by the European Courts (I know they are not all EU controlled)
On police. We used to have a police force, now we have a police service. We could return our force of law and order into one that is not a social service but into a protection for our people
On Politics. We still have elections with the appearance of democracy, but we lose out in the emasculation of our parliament. We should be helping others to a free society, and not moving ourselves into a restricted society. The Cameron negotiation will not help that at all.
On housing. If we had a controlled immigration system we would not have a housing shortage. Young families would be able to buy if they wanted or rent what they desire.
On benefits. We cannot continue to be the ‘health service’ of the world on demand, and neither can we continue to be the provider of all things to anyone who asks. It needs some regulation surely.
On Banking and financial services. There is a fear that we will lose out, but I believe that London, in an independent country, will be able to offer such freedoms that we will not lose much if any and will almost certainly gain trade. Under EU of course some years ago we had to cede much of this to Germany. I think some will come back.
On armed forces. Cut to the very bone, but still be ‘best army in the world’ again restricted by EU yet we do most of the international police keeping work for the other nations. Why? Also we have to consider the very real problem of a European army…!!!
On Human Rights. We have a hotch-potch of lawer invented pseudo laws designed to hinder real freedoms by hiding the rights of a majority under a cover of protecting minorities. The person who murders your child has more rights than your child had to live, is the way in works. Personally I felt more free, and I had more rights before such legislation came in
On International relations. The UK’s contacts and influence is greater than any other nation with the possible exceptions of USA, China and Russia in that order, but we hold an enormously greater respect that any of these and certainly more than our EU neighbours. Plus we have what is left of the empire and the commonwealth. The so called English Speaking Nations, even those that disagree with us on many things still have a heart-felt feeling towards us.
On historical, social, cultural and spiritual matters. For a single example, this country has always prospered under the Protestant Work Ethic and we have been at our greatest during the late 1400’s – 1500’s. During the 1700’s the early to mid 1800’s. During the first 5 decades of the 1900’s coinciding with protestant revivals and industrial advances linked with them. Most of Europe has grown in a different culture with quite different aims and ambitions. We will never really agree. Ecumenism has a lot to answer for.
On fishing. Its not just the quota system, why should a land locked nation have rights to fish off our shore when our fishermen are restricted. and why should caught fish have to be tipped over board dead? and why should you or I, if we chose to spend a day fishing of Southwold pier be fined £500 if we accidentally catch a sea bass and eat it? International laws always gave a nation total rights to a three mile limit, controversially extended to 12 mile in the 1960’s.
I could go on and on, but you get the point, and I can expand at length on most of the above. I do not by the way belong to any of the OUT organisations, perhaps I should. Our geography will remain the same, our neighbours will not all put up a wall either actual or in any other way, we will still be able to travel and drink Italian wines and fly through Amsterdam. We can also re-unite with the rest of the world as a major player.
I do, however, firmly believe that you are wrong if you believe that we should remain part of one of the most corrupt international organisations ever created.