Venue: Charles Burrell Centre, Staniforth Road, Thetford IP24 3LH
To note apologies of absence.
An apology was received from Rob Walker, Executive Director of Place for Breckland Council.
RWh asked for an amendment to minute ref: 14/18 (para 6) to say “ RWh said Section 106 funding had been allocated for the provision of healthcare, however the funding would not be released until later phases of the development’.
TJ informed the board that he had had a useful conversation with the Town Council with regards to moving allotments to a suitable venue and consideration for access to the north end of the rail station and would devise a plan of action.
Subject to the above amendment, the minutes of the meeting held on 15 December 2017 were agreed.
Norfolk County Council will provide a short presentation followed by a discussion.
Mr Cumming gave a presentation to the Board. He explained that Members of the Environmental Development and Transport Committee had agreed to five studies per year, with a budget of £20,000 per study, of which Thetford was one of them.
It was anticipated that the scope of the transport study would be completed by September 2018 and would be in three parts. Part one would consider the current transport issues, cycle, parking, traffic and access to services and facilities.
Part two would look at the future growth, and part three would cover the implementation plan that would identify appropriate interventions; determine priorities and timescales for delivery.
A workshop was due to take place with stakeholders and neighbouring parishes to gain feedback and discuss current issues.
BK asked how far the market town study would cover, particularly with speeding issues. Whilst it focussed on the town it would also take into account the planned areas of growth. Members were also encouraged to feedback if there were concerns of speeding in specific areas.
TJ, a Member of the Environmental Development and Transport Committee was pleased to see the project come to fruition. He mentioned that he had asked on social media for feedback with regard to the transport issues and received constructive comments and forwarded them to Mr Cumming. He went onto say that the reason for the study was for the growth of the town and hoped the study would consider the increase usage of public transport. However it was noted the train station did not have sufficient parking facilities, disabled access and the use of push-chairs was not easy. In addition there were not adequate facilities at the bus station, such as waiting information and provision of refreshments. He added the connectivity of the town was important and consideration should be given to improve the traffic flow around the south of the town.
RWh was pleased to see cycling would be included in the study, and informed the Board that the Community Sub-Group had prepared a draft report on cycling and walking routes around the town.
ACTION – RWh to send a copy of the report to Mr Cumming so it can feed into the study.
TP asked if the study would include the A11 junctions. The Chairman informed the Board that at a recent Norfolk Leaders meeting it was agreed Norfolk would sign up to be part of a stakeholder group that was considering the A11 be upgraded to an express-way.
TP sought clarification of where the study would be recorded. The Chairman confirmed that the scoping piece of work formed the first phase and that once Norfolk County Council ratified the scope in Autumn this year, it would then move onto the delivery plan.
RD added there would be short, medium and long term investment priorities that would form the strategy.
A member of the public asked if there had been any consideration for maintenance to the A11, specifically with pot-holes. In addition if any near misses had ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Jan Munn, Norfolk County Council’s Lead Adviser Education & Training will present a short update report on the educational landscape in Thetford.
Jan Munn, Lead Adviser – Education Participation, Infrastructure and Partnerships Services presented her report to the Board. It was highlighted that a new Academy Trust (Eastern MAT) had come into Thetford which included Diamond and Queensway academies. It was important to note that the schools in the area were working very hard to deliver good outcomes for children and it was noted that there were inconsistencies within the data provided.
Norfolk County Council were working alongside the academy trusts and clusters on a project to identify how new growth in Thetford would be accommodated in order to enable the schools to continue to deliver their core purpose.
The Board was informed that consideration was being given to the original suggestion of moving the current Raleigh infant school to the new site. Further detail would be presented to a future meeting of the Board.
ACTION: Jan Munn would gather further information on the indication of growth proposals, and when the new site would be available.
TJ thanked the Officer for the report and felt that the Board should recognise that the new growth could impact on the acceleration of standards for the schools across Thetford. Whilst he understood the significant issues within Thetford schools he felt that there was not enough support staff employed to assist with these issues.
RB felt that as the structure of the Board and Officer group had recently changed it would allow those involved to keep ahead and updated regularly to ensure the new school was delivered effectively.
The Chairman said that social mobility was an issue and within Thetford there were hotspots on attainment figures. He asked if there was an action plan to support primary schools, and what were the future aspirations to ensure that the right Academy trust is sought. It was confirmed that if it was a Local Authority School who received an outstanding Ofsted report then there would be a light touch approach from Norfolk County Council. With regard to social mobility there were a number of key indicators that would fit into this, so would work closely with the schools on this. A similar project was underway within another part of the County where key areas had been identified.
The Chairman confirmed the board would be delighted to support where it could and would replicate the model used within Kings Lynn.
ACTION: The officer group to consider this and report back to the Board.
Councillor Robinson said he would like to see more post 16’s having access to higher education and felt that not all opportunities were signposted for the youth.
Councillor Hollis was concerned that the local bus that used to take children across Thetford had now stopped, many of whom now had to walk along the Croxton Road which was not safe.
ACTION: JM to feed this information back to County Councillors.
The Chairman asked that the schools and communities understood that the Board understood the issues, and it was about sharing information to move forward.
ACTION: JM ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Rob Walker, Breckland Council’s Executive Director Place, will provide an update on this new initiative to strengthen the economic, social and cultural standing of Breckland’s five market towns – Thetford, Dereham, Attleborough, Swaffham and Watton.
The Communities Manager from Breckland Council presented the report to the Board.
Breckland Council had met with Thetford Town Council to discuss what the Market Town Initiative could mean to the town as discussion was important in terms of what the town had now and could look like in the future. It was apparent that the heritage of Thetford was important and there was a keenness to develop this so Thetford could been seen as a heritage destination. Discussions were underway with the Heritage Lottery Fund to submit a smaller bid to enable the development of this theme further.
A new initiative was underway called Shopappy, which would work alongside retailers to allow the community to shop locally and protect local businesses
A new urban vacuum cleaner had been purchased which will enable larger areas to be cleaned more effectively, and this would be used within the Town to improve the appearance of the town centre.
RB asked if it would be beneficial for the Board to put forward a letter to the Heritage Lottery Fund in support of the bid. The Board were in agreement with this.
ACTION: Letter to be written in support of the bid to Heritage Lottery Fund.
BK clarified that whilst in principle the Board supports the bid, it would be preferred if the bid could be seen before the letter was sent.
TJ said that the Market Town Initiative was really encouraging and should not overlook the skills already within Breckland and should engage in existing services to enhance sustainability in what it is trying to achieve.
A member of the public asked if it would be possible to see in greater detail what the heritage grant would look like. RWh informed the Board that he would share the bid with the Community Sub-Group once he had seen sight of it.
ACTION: SJ to check with Rob Walker if the bid to the HLF can be viewed publically.
The content of the report was noted by the Board.
Tina Cunnell, Thetford Town Council’s Town Clerk, will introduce a short summary paper on the Little Ouse Waterspace Study and the opportunities which improving navigation along the river from Brandon to Thetford could bring to the regeneration of Thetford’s riverside.
The Thetford Town Clerk, presented the report to the Board. The report asked for support from the Board in order to seek further funding.
The Chairman added that he was excited to see the energy and enthusiasm of the Waterspace study launch that had picked up pace since its launch, and saluted the Town Council for the work it had put in so far. It would be life changing for Thetford going forward allowing the town to become a destination of choice. He added that he was more than happy for the Board to be involved.
RB added that if the river became in use it would be a major development for the town and would like to see the Board become proactive, through the Sub-Group, to show the residents of Thetford what could be done.
RWh asked if the Officer Group could consider the river frontage on the opposite side to the cinema, and if this could be improved. The Town Clerk confirmed that it was a shared space between a number of parties, however the project plan would need to follow phases and ensure the process was completed in a sense of order.
The Chairman added that the project was still in its infancy and further details would become clearer at a later date.
ACTION: Town Clerk and Cllr Wright to attend the next meeting of the Community Sub-Group to inform them of how the work is progressing and future plans.
The Board agreed with the recommendations and would produce an open letter of support which could be used to support funding applications.
ACTION: Open Letter to be written in support of the Little Ouse project.
Norfolk County Council will introduce a short discussion paper on improvements to the five A11 junctions around Thetford which are included within the County’s adopted Norfolk Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2017-2027.
RD asked the Board what it could do to help promote the issues of the A11 junction to help lobby for further investment. The A11 had an enhanced route but was subject to congestion and whilst the planned new development would provide some changes to those junctions this would be longer term. He suggested the Board write to Highways England to begin to consider the long term aspirations.
The Chairman recommended that the Board agree to write to Highways England as it would show unified working.
TJ said whilst it was a long term aim, he was hoping some quick wins could be carried out such as the sheer quantity of litter that was around especially on the roundabout as you entered Thetford.
RB added that the roundabouts appeared unkempt and felt that they could look better.
BK commented that the Parishes used to undertake litter-picks however now they are required to go to an outsourced company and sign a form. The Breckland Communities Manager confirmed that the litter picking equipment had been moved to the Market Towns, and a form was required to be signed so that it ensured that those undertaking the litter picking were covered under the Breckland Insurance.
The Town Clerk asked if bulbs could be planted on the roundabouts. It was confirmed that the roundabouts were the responsibility of Highways England, however this question could be asked of them.
It was agreed that a letter would be sent to invite Highways England to attend a Board meeting.
ACTION: Letter to be written to Highways England.
Norfolk County Council will introduce a discussion on desired improvements to Thetford Railway Station.
DC was aware of the long standing concerns of provision at the Railway Station. The Station was operated by Greater Anglia, who had access to funding and suggested the Board write to Greater Anglia inviting them to a future meeting of the Board to listen to the concerns and suggest ways forward.
TJ added that it would be useful for the board to write to the Town Council to consider moving the allotment which would allow access to additional parking.
RWh thanked the Board for considering this item, and said he had met with Greater Anglia in July 2017, who said they had no funding for the improvements.
The Town Clerk said that it would consider if suitable land could be found to increase the allotment provision and release the land for additional parking.
The Breckland Inward Invest Manager suggested that enough time was given to allow the Officer group to consider timetables and a project plan.
TJ added that Railway Infrastructure had been recently covered by the Environmental and Transport Committee at Norfolk County Council and this should be shared with the Board.
ACTION: DC to share the report with the GTDP Board.
It was agreed that the Board will forward a letter to Greater Anglia inviting them to a future meeting of the Board.
ACTION: Letter to be written to Greater Anglia.
RD set out the report to the Board explaining the proposals for a revised officer group to support the Board and recommended a fresh approach.
The Chairman added that he was in support of the proposals as it allowed all Officers across all parties to work in partnership and bring appropriate papers to the Board, allowing the Board to have a formal approach and direction of travel. It would allow more control for the partners to share issues effectively and suitably respond to issues.
Following a discussion, the members of the Board were in agreement to the proposed changes.
It was AGREED that the proposed principles set out in the report were approved and would be developed into a formal Terms of Reference for consideration at the next Board meeting.
ACTION: Terms of Reference to be presented at the next Board meeting.
The Chairman explained that the Communities Sub-Group Terms of Reference should be bought into line with the Boards terms of reference and be reviewed annually. It was requested that the Sub-Group’s Terms of Reference should be reviewed each May where the membership of the independent members would be reviewed if appropriate to do so.
RWh said the overall make-up of the Group worked well, but it was a question of how independent members were appointed that needed addressing which was not clear in the original terms of reference. He suggested that this should be discussed at the next meeting of the Sub-Group and bring the feedback back to the Board.
The Chairman added that the role of the independent member should be advertised appropriately. The applications would be reviewed by a representative from a Board Member; the town; parish of Brettenham and Kilverstone; and Parish of Croxton.
It was agreed that the Chairman would ask for a representative from the Local Enterprise Partnership to sit on the Board, as this worked effectively for the Attleborough Development Partnership. RC would also ask for a representative on the Officer Group for the same reasons.
ACTION: contact the New Anglia LEP representation.
The following items would be added to the GTDP Board Forward Plan:
· Health – any questions should be forwarded to RD (Richard.Doleman@norfolk.gov.uk) in order for the health representatives to be prepared for their attendance at a future Board meeting.
· Thetford Brand – the Town Clerk had said she had been working on branding particularly with the Thetford Heritage. This should also include work on how to attract skilled workers to Thetford.
· Communication – the communication plans would be refreshed in time for the next Board meeting.
· Cemeteries – TP would report back to the next Board meeting once he had spoken to the developers, Pigeon.
· Governance Terms of Reference – to be refreshed
· Educational Update – further information on when the new site would be operational.
· Responses from letters written to the Highways, Greater Anglia and the LEP.
Thetford SUE and TEP
To receive a verbal update from the Chairman.
Positive news had recently been received that the bid for infrastructure through the HCA had been successful. This gave Thetford a strong position in regards to economic growth and its future.
The planning application from Hopkins Homes had been received by the Planning Authority and would be heard at a future meeting of the Planning Committee.
The current timetable for the completion of the new TEP roundabout is June 2019.
RWh presented the report highlighting that the main issue he had discovered was passengers could not use their railcard to purchase a ticket travelling towards Norwich, and was felt to be unfair.
RWh will forward the health concerns raised by the Sub-Group to Richard Doleman.
RWh asked the Board to update the integrated Delivery Plan to enable the Sub-group to plan ahead.
The Cycling and Walking Routes report was in draft format and would welcome feedback from the Board members. DC asked to see a copy of the report, and would attend a future meeting of the Sub-Group to discuss the report in more detail.
The Chairman added his thanks to the Sub-Group for the report.
RD asked the Sub-Group to produce a list of recommendations they would like the Board to consider, which would help him run the Officer Group. RWh said he did not have anything to add at the minute other than requesting support to write to East Midlands Trains with regards to the query of the price of train tickets bought on the train.
The Chairman said he would like to see a joined up approach, and asked RWh to prepare the letter and send to the Chairman for forwarding on.
ACTION: RWh to prepare the letter to East Midlands Trains, and forward onto the Chairman to send on behalf of the Board.
Summary of Agreed Main Actions and Report Highlights
· Update on discussions with academy clusters.
· Letter to be sent in support of the Heritage Lottery Fund
· Letter of support to be sent with regard to future funding of the Little Ouse project.
· Letter to Highways England.
· Letter to Greater Anglia.
· Town Council to update the Board on the Allotments at the Railway Station.
Any Other Business
Date of Next meeting
To be agreed.
The date of the next meeting was scheduled for Monday 9 April 2018 at 10:00am, venue to be confirmed.