Questions without Notice under Standing Order No 7 (Agenda item 7)
- Meeting of Budget & Council Tax setting, Council, Thursday, 27th February, 2020 10.00 am (Item 25/20)
Councillor Bowes asked the Leader if he would join her in thanking Officers for their swift response in respect of the recent fire in Watton High Street. The Leader pointed out that the Council was still providing assistance to the residents whose homes and businesses had been damaged by the fire. He had been overwhelmed by the community cohesion and the support offered by many people and other businesses in the town and he asked Rob Walker, the Executive Director of Place to pass on his thanks to all Officers involved. A letter had already been sent to the Norfolk Fire Service thanking them for their unprecedented assistance on the night. Councillor Gilbert, a Ward Representative of Watton, felt that from his point of view this showed the Council at its best.
Councillor Gilbert raised the recent announcement made by central government about councils having to meet the 2023 deadline for the introduction of separate food waste collections. He felt that Breckland Council should concentrate its efforts on an education campaign to look at waste and how to save money. The Leader advised that Councillor Bambridge, the Executive Member for Environmental Services & Public Protection would be taking the lead on this and would be looking at ways this matter should be dealt with. The Council was currently working with Norfolk Waste Partnership on an educational piece and food waste was at the forefront of DEFRA’s Resource & Waste Strategy. It had already been noted that if the Government did make this change increased central government funding would be essential.
Councillor Brindle commented on public protection and the growing concerns in respect of motorised scooters being used on public footpaths; he pointed out that there were no laws to prevent these scooters being used on UK roads and pavements. He asked if Breckland Council would look into this issue. Councillor Bambridge responded that this matter would be added to his Team’s agenda.
Councillor Birt reminded Members of the serious IT outage that had occurred on 30 October 2019 at the Council following which he was told that a report would be sent to all Members on this matter. He had not had sight of such a report and asked when this would be sent. The Executive Director of Strategy & Governance advised that a cybersecurity presentation would be taking place following the next Full Council meeting. A report was available but the IT outage was a one-off incident caused by a UPS switch which had now been replaced.
A question was then directed to Councillor Robinson, the Executive Member for Community, Leisure & Culture. Councillor Jermy asked if anything was being done in respect of a report in the local press about EU nationals wanting to remain in Norfolk. Members were informed that these matters had already been outlined in the Vulnerability report within the Council Agenda and the Communities Team had already been working with migrant communities, particularly in Thetford. Councillor Robinson thanked Councillor Jermy for his question and a more detailed response would be circulated by email to all Members.
As a follow up to the above question, Councillor Dowling mentioned the ‘advice sharks’ that were currently causing problems in such communities as they were charging significant amounts to assist vulnerable people with the various forms that had to be completed. She wanted to know if Breckland were aware of these ‘sharks’ and if the Council was doing anything to support people in these situations. The Leader reported that he had already been asked by residents for help with these forms; Norfolk Citizens Advice was also aware and had added a warning on their website about steering clear of these organisations. Trading Standards were also aware. He would make sure that a list and links of approved organisations would be circulated to all Members via email.