Agenda item

Leader's Announcements

To receive a verbal update from Councillor Wassell, Leader of the Council.



The Deputy Leader thanked Members for their support whilst the Leader had been away.


The Better Broadband for Norfolk project had received a further £5.3m which had been allocated to Norfolk.  Full analysis was still required, and the information would be available from Norfolk County Council (NCC) in September.  The £950k that Breckland had set aside for this project had been ring-fenced for the Breckland area and as yet had not been released.


Devolution and what this meant going forward was being discussed at Leaders meetings across Norfolk.  Agreement had been reached to send initial expressions of interest to the Government.


Breckland had also supported Norfolk County Council for the Northern Distributor Road.


Councillor Turner said it would be useful if the Housing Team presented at Full Council the changes to the new Choice Based Letting arrangements.


Work continued on Place Based Governance and the first Greater Thetford board meeting had taken place. 


Breckland had also been invited to speak at Whitehall regarding the income generation project which specifically linked to the work of the Local Asset Backed Vehicle project.


The Deputy Leader was pleased a number of villages had taken advantage of the match funding available for the Tour of Britain which was coming through the District. Two years ago this had bought over £2m into the local economy.


Councillor Taylor asked if the Council had any contingency plans with regards to the recent immigration issues, and if so what they were.


The Chief Executive responded that it was an important issue.  A letter from the Government had been received at South Holland on that topic.  Breckland might receive a letter in due course.  Members were reminded about the Emergency Planning function which covered Norfolk which the issue was being reviewed.


Councillor Cowen welcomed the announcement that further funding had become available for Broadband across Norfolk.  He raised concerns that in the Ward he represented a number of villages were remote and unlikely to receive superfast Broadband.


The Deputy Leader reassured Members that the detailed modelling had not been finalised and also mentioned that the Wayland Partnership had called a meeting with Karen O’Kane from NCC to discuss the village issues.


Councillor Joel thanked the Council for the £500 grant towards the Tour of Britain event.  The Village Green at Old Buckenham would be closed for the day for the first time ever, allowing residents to cycle around the green, and also enjoy a fun-fair, bands and refreshments.


Councillor Wilkinson said concerns had been raised within his Parish regarding Beachamwell and Shingham.  The Parish had met with Karen O’Kane and had been advised that there was no guarantee that the village would receive Broadband.  He was concerned as businesses in the villages should have access to Broadband.


Councillor Chapman-Allen said she was also told that villages within her Ward would not be upgraded and felt this was unsatisfactory.  A resident had asked Karen O’Kane that if some properties were too remote to receive broadband would the satellite vouchers be financially viable.


The Deputy Leader suggested that Karen O’Kane should be invited back to Overview and Scrutiny Commission.


Councillor Sharpe asked who was collating information regarding Broadband.


The Chief Executive said Broadband was a sensitive issue for the rural areas.  Whilst Breckland had set aside £950k for the Broadband project this would only be released once information had been seen regarding the coverage.  This model had not yet been completed and only BT was able to carry out that technical piece of work.


Councillor W Richmond added that in the North of the District, Broadband was woefully inadequate and reiterated that the Broadband team should be invited to Overview and Scrutiny.


Councillor Gilbert asked who was monitoring the money that the Council had provided and wanted assurance that it was being spent only in the Breckland District.


The Chief Executive explained that this would form part of the Cabinet report and would be a decision that Council would take once the details were available.