I will be there all day, give me a ring if you want to meet up


I was honoured to have been chosen to be granted the first recipient of  of The Dereham Articulate Speakers award which was presented last night at a ceremony in Dereham.

Thank you to the group and to anyone who supported my nomination.

My speech in full

First of all thanks to Dereham Articulate Speakers and Toastmasters international for giving me this fantastic award. I am not sure how I was selected, but I am honoured to be the first recipient of the Dereham presentation and thank all of those who may have sponsored me. I admire the work the association does in encouraging more people to use the wonderful human gift of being able to communicate with each other better. 

As a young man I was incredibly shy, always at the edge of any gathering and really unsure how to make contact with those around me. Over time I worked in sales, became a preacher and councillor having to talk to people all the time, I still suffer from the shyness in many situations, as probably many of you do also, the work of Dereham Articulate Speakers will help overcome that or even speech impediments and the like. It will also give you the tools to become a better communicator – which applies to us all.

Just what is communication? It is many things, from a simple conversation, to a full blown debate. Or it may be just a hug.

In this case, and for this award, it refers to my use of mainly social media for communication as a councillor, so that is all I will talk about today. From the dozen or more mainstream electronic platforms, I use Twitter, Facebook and a Blog. Twitter is like a conversation you may have on the bus, or in a shop. It is casual and short lived, Facebook has a greater life and is like a real conversation with friends, Blog is a considered opinion to the world. All different and all with specific uses.

In my case, through my social media use I hope to present a more rounded picture of myself by including elements of my personal interests in all of my posts.

So Family are included, as is the fact I am a practicing Christian, an antique coin dealer, have interests in the countryside and so on. I link in to sites like Breckland for the pure political elements, and of course all comments are my own. I also respond to others and re-tweet.

Electronic communication is just like having a conversation, but dozens, hundreds or even tens of thousands can take part or listen in.

I use Social Media a lot to keep in touch politically with my Ward, or in the case of my Cabinet  job at Breckland with the wider community. In todays modern life it is important that anyone who seeks public, life needs to do more than hold a meeting once every four years. With 15 villages in my ward and 112 communities in Breckland it is a convenient way to let interested people know what you are doing on a daily basis

Well every day really is what you need to do with Social Media.

Before the advent of mass social media I made sure I was attending as many parish meetings as possible, I walked the streets in my ward and spoke to all I met, I still do this of course, but it is all enhanced by Twitter, Facebook and Blog posts. It would be easy to say “I do it to get re-elected” and that is al least partly true but, like many others I like to share my opinions with others, and no doubt will always do this.

Who to, – To anyone who is interested actually, but I seek to target the people of Upper Wensum Ward and Breckland in particular.

I was born in an age when communication was mainly just word of mouth or the daily newspaper. We had radio, but TV was rare until the coronation in 1953 when I remember going to a friends house to watch the event in a darkened room. We got one about 1955/6. Things like telephones followed and around 1986 I got my first mobile telephone. To use it in Norfolk you had to find a hill with a tree – climb the tree and hope for a connection. I used it for work, and if I got a call whilst out with Jacqueline she would walk away from me in embarrassment .

By the mid ’90’s it was a common thing, and today we mostly have these devices which allow us to keep in touch with voice, with writing, with pictures. Which will tell us how to get home, or specify where we are on the planet. We can be tracked with them, they will read to us. The communication potential is just fantastic and beyond the wildest dreams of my 9 year old self who first saw a moving picture of the queen in a box in 1953.

Three ways, Twitter, Facebook, Blogging. but backed up by being available, always!!

I still believe in personal face to face conversation. I still write letters, but I also find myself texting to someone in the next room.

So has electronic social media ruined the art of communication? I don’t think so. but it has changed it. As long as humans have a need to live, and to love, and to exist in a society situation we will need person to person communication skills, but I am very glad and privileged to have been born in an age where this can be expanded and to be able to contact just about anyone, who is just about anywhere, at just about any time.

It is my solemn and sincere hope that despite all of this texting, telephoning, emailing and other forms we do still keep talking directly to one another



Copied from Leader of Breckland

As you may be aware, the council was a finalist in the Commercialism in the Property Estate category – and I’m delighted to inform you that the council was named as the winner.

This is a tremendous achievement for the council. It recognises on the national stage the vision and commitment of our organisation, and its members and officers, as an early adopter of commercial investment and an organisation that is innovative and forward-thinking.

The judges selected Breckland Council as the winner over much larger authorities from elsewhere in the country. They were particularly interested to hear about our innovative Breckland Bridge partnership, which recently delivered the £8m Thetford Riverside scheme, as well as our wider commercial approach, including our diverse property portfolio which brings in around the same amount of money as we receive in council tax.

The judges recognised the difference our approach is making to the district and the benefits it has brought – and continues to bring – for the good of local people. These include helping us to keep council tax low, driving growth, creating jobs, and delivering housing. I am proud that Breckland has won this award and I hope you will join me in celebrating this success.


Just completed the LGA leadership awards in Warwick. Apart from all that we learn to make us better at our job of being a councillor we do make some excellent contacts. My course meant I now have close contact with about 20 leaders from across the country, plus more at the graduation. This contact is sustained by being members of a closed internet group who all know the others.
The photo on my facebook shows just six of these, all leaders or cabinet members from South Gloucestershire, Mansfield, Wellingborough, Colchester, Elmbridge and Plymouth. Even in the few months since doing the course’s these contacts have been useful for bouncing ideas and learning from what others do. The time spent together means that a trust is built up and these contacts are permanent.
For most of us, when we are first elected, we are a bit naive, we undoubtedly have some issues we are passionate about but every councillor says “it is a massive learning curve” or something similar. Well I have been a district councillor for 14 years, and a parish councillor for 12 before that, and I can say the the eleven days I have spent away on this course and the 3-4 months in between sessions doing homework, have combined to make me a much better councillor for my ward and my district. The actual work of being a councillor is much more complex now that when I was first elected. To fully carry out our representative work as councillors and get the best we can for all those we do represent. We should all of us be encouraging our councillors at all levels to learn more.
To those who are critical of this training I would say, do you really want your local licensing application dealt with by untrained people? Do you really want the planning application next door to be considered by a panel who have little or no understanding of the issues or the legal processes? Do you really want the way the council tax pound is spent to be decided by those who have no understanding of local government economics? I am certain that the answer to all of these is NO.
So all councillors need to be trained for the work they must do in the ward, and specifically for the work they do for the whole council. Of course we all bring our own skills to the council chamber, but since being elected I have attended many training sessions, most of which cost little or nothing. Some do cost a bit, but all are assessed for their contribution to the working of the council as a whole. Councillors do training in their own time, and do not get any extra allowance for doing so. Central Government chips in amounts to support the upskilling of the whole of local government and some training is supported by the LGA. Breckland has a small budget for councillor training and this is closely monitored and we all have to apply if we want or need to draw from it.

Reference call for national unity government

I am just saying…..

It is so often forgotten in the mass of socialist propaganda that almost exactly 80 years ago the template for the National Health Service was forged during 1937/8 by a government of national unity, actually headed up by the conservative party. The fact that the war got in the way and the NHS was later brought into being on that format by a labour administration was just happenstance, but it does go to show that something as big as Brexit can be sorted by an across party grouping.


8TH JUNE 2017 saw a general election called by Prime Minister May. She need not have called it, but had very good reasons, the main declared one being that the next scheduled election in 2020 would have been very close to the end of Brexit.

This turned out to be a misjudgement on her part. When it was called conservatives were riding high in the polls and labour were at a very low ebb with infighting and apparent levels of incompetence within the higher levels of the party. Jeremy Corbyn, as it turns out, proved to be a good people man when it comes to getting out voters. I recall saying do not underestimate this man when he won the first of his leadership elections and again when he transformed membership of his party.

The problem the country has is that he is a traditional left wing labour politician, and no one under the age of 60 can possible remember what it is like to live under that sort of regime. Three day working weeks, power cuts and brownouts. rubbish piling up in the streets up to the eaves of buildings in many areas, bodies left unburied for three to four months, sky high interest rates, petrol rationing, high taxes and so on. The question is do we want this again, and it certainly could happen very quickly.

Personally I deplore the centralisation in politics, labour has drifted to the right in my lifetime and conservatives have drifted to the left. There is actually little difference between Cameron and Blair and this coming together has blunted the interest in politics that many, and especially younger people have had until recently. This has caused the confusion of the rising of many smaller parties who seek to fit somewhere, usually with a focussed yet uncertain agenda.

The EU referendum proved to be a catalyst, we had an issue which polarised people in a way similar to real politics up to the 1980’s. The fact that this has spilled over into a general election is on the whole good, although I will really canvas to ensure that we do not have another left wing labour administration in our country, we really cannot afford it. To paraphrase someone much wiser than I,    ‘A socialist will keep spending until they run out of other peoples money’  or as a cartoon in a national paper this week – showing  the labour leader with a school cookery class explaining socialism,  you make a cake, I will take the cake, someone else will eat the cake

I will write more on this subject……

THE AGE WE LIVE IN (just one lifetime)

To those born in the 21st century everything in the world must seem exactly as normal. The older we are the stranger the world seems. Just imagine for a moment that you time travel back into the past or to the future, what would your reaction be.
I had this challenge recently when I was having to think about Social Media for a short talk later this month.
Just think about it a bit, I was born during the second world war. We had radio and cars. TV existed but not for ordinary folk or those outside of London. Space exploration was a dream, and in the early 1950’s was a subject for H G Wells or the Eagle. I remember my first sighting of a television, on Coronation day in 1953 at a friends house in Dereham, we did not have one for several years. In the late ’60’s came Star Trek and the characters had wrist communicators, with moving pictures and sounds – impossible? Oh no – – its not! 
What I am really saying is that in no previous generation has technology moved so far and so fast. The key is electronics, which less than one in 100, of my generation even superficially, really understands. And we are the generation who invented it
In just one lifetime we have had a technological revolution like no other advance in human history. I can remember sitting in class in early October 1957 at 9.08am, Assembly was halted so we could listen on the radio for Sputnik 1, the first orbital satellite of the earth. The first contact from outer space.  33 years later I spent three days with Charlie Duke one of the Apollo astronauts who landed on the moon in 1972  (which was just 15 years after Sputnik 1) and he told me that my 1990 calculator had more technology than his Saturn V and lunar lander combined. 
In just one lifetime we have advanced so much in our travel – our cars even tell us where we are and which way to go, in our homes – my mother used a copper to wash clothes (ask granny) and we use a machine you put dirty clothes in and clean and dry ones come out. in our work –  so much is now automatic and computer aided or controlled, but most of all in our communication 
In just one lifetime communications have been transformed, indeed in less than a quarter of my lifetime. I now have a tv I can stop and start, I can record and get dozens of channels. 
I have not just one, but three computers all of which can connect me with anywhere in the world. 
I have a conventional home telephone, plus a mobile “communicator”  (actually 2) which can do almost as much as Capt Kirk’s version, it speaks, it adds up, it reads to me, I can watch films, and record digital pictures, I can even write letters and it delivers them for me. I do still need my grandchildren to tell me what I am not aware that this can do, but I am learning.
I am now old, not the oldest in the village, but getting there. I was born when none of this was possible, or even thought of really. But I am so glad that I was ablto live in an age when so much could be achieved. Technology is used mostly for good, and it will allow those who were born in the 21st century to live much more fulfilling lives. 
Towards the end of this century, I hope that you will be able to look back and reflect on what your generation has achieved just as I am doing now with mine.
Gordon Bambridge


Breckland draws ever closer to finalising its local plan – as chairman of the Local Plan Working Group I am now expecting our last meeting to be on 16th June. We will make commendations which will carry it forward to approval by the council  in July, on it’s way it will pass through Scrutiny and Cabinet where no doubt it will be well examined.

Pending the two or three decisions to be made in June I am sure that we have developed a good plan,It will serve us through to 2036 with a couple of mid term reviews.

Members of the public will get a chance to have a say on it’s “soundness” it the consultation at the end of the summer and a planning inspector will deal with whatever that brings up. He/she will examine the plan in public session.

Breckland has had more public meetings on this plan than ever before. More residents have passed comment that at any other plan in the district. Under Charles and me we have spent 100’s of hours listing to 100’s of people and the plan has changed very much on its way through. Officers have spent 1000’s of hours moulding the plan to accomodate those views. Thank you all for that.

I will keep you up to date……

General Election

The ‘snap election’ is almost upon us. Can you help in Mid Norfolk, if so then please get in touch. I am still suffering the after effects of a nasty six week virus, so will not be doing much but many may be willing to help out.

Michael Fanthorpe

I attended the funeral of Michael Fanthorpe yesterday. I have known Michael for many years but particularly well for the last 14 both as a councillor with Dereham and Breckland and as a landlord and fellow antique dealer in his centre in Dereham where I rented a room. He was one of a kind, eccentric in many ways, sympathetic, outspoken, contradictory and supportive. It was very hard to define just what Michael was. We spent many hours over the six years we worked alongside one another sharing, chatting and learning. Antiques, politics and the people of Dereham were the main topics.
It was good to see that the political elements of Dereham honoured his passing, No less than seven former chairmen of Breckland attended this former chairmans funeral, several mayors and many councillors also joined in marking his passing as was noted in one of the two very humorous and delightful tributes paid to him during the service.
Michael was a ‘character’ and we seem to have less and less of those in our fast paced and changing world, he will be missed, not only by Avril and his family, but also by the wider community. The world is a poorer place.