Agenda item

Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)

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

 

Minutes:

The Leader made the following announcements:

 

·        Elections - Members were made aware that the Elections Team was there to support any Councillor that needed assistance.  The Leader mentioned the Prospective Councillor Event that took place recently and thanked his colleagues who supported that event and congratulated all those involved.  He felt that it was very important to get people interested in local Government and willing to stand for local Election.

·        Swaffham Air Quality – Members were aware of previous conversations in respect of this matter and the Leader was pleased to announce that the air quality in Swaffham was improving.  DEFRA was now suggesting different actions and had been pleased with what the Council had achieved to date in relation to the reduction of nitrogen dioxide. Breckland Council would continue to strive moving forwards and continue to work with Norfolk County Council to improve the flow of vehicles through the towns.

·        BreckWorld – A brand new app available to download from the App Store, backed by Stephen Fry, had recently been launched by the Council with 166 downloads already. The Leader was sure that this interest had been helped by Stephen Fry tweeting about the app to his many followers far and wide.  The app had been delivered working with Ryan Baxter, the young entrepreneur who Members met at the last Council meeting. The Leader said that since visiting the BreckWorld site he had seen many places that he never knew existed even though he had lived most of his life in Breckland and he encouraged Members to download the app.

·        Town & Parish Council Forum – this event would be taking place later, from 5.30pm in the Conference Suite.  He knew of a few District Members that were attending and he also knew that there were approximately 50 Town & Parish Councillors on the list to attend.

·        Cyber Security – the Council had received a grant from the LGA to ensure that all Members would have the opportunity for training. There would be cyber security e-learning modules for all Councillors from May 2019 onwards to hopefully address these future challenges going forward.

·        Funding for Fibre – The Leader congratulated Norfolk County Council (NCC) who had recently secured an additional £8m which would see fibre broadband rolled out to those parts of the District that were in the very rural areas.  He felt as a collective, all were trying hard to recognise the more deprived and remote areas that suffered the worst possible signals both in phone lines and broadband so the more that could be done collectively to drive that forward the better.

 

Councillor Wassell asked the Leader a question about broadband.  He believed that it was still the case that the Council had not used the £950k that had been allocated for broadband a number of years ago and asked what proportion of the NCC money was likely to be spent in Breckland.  If the amount was not sufficient, he wanted to know if the Council would be able to utilise the £950k to ensure that these particular residents in the remotest areas of Breckland received the best possible broadband speed. The Leader explained that the £950k had not been utilised as yet and was being held by the Council as a Reserve to match fund NCC funding as had always been the case.  The funding was only ever going to be drawn down when NCC could not secure enough funding from other sources but now that National Government was funding fibre broadband, Breckland’s money would be used to reach as many ‘cold spots’ as possible.

 

Councillor Joel asked the Leader when BreckWorld would be rolled out to android customers.  A definitive answer was not possible at present, but was likely to depend upon how much interest the current app would generated.  The app was launched on a single platform to keep the Council’s costs relatively low but as long as BreckWorld continued to go well and prove popular he could not see any reason for not rolling it out to android customers in due course.