Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)
To receive a verbal update from Councillor Nunn, Leader of the Council.
The Leader made the following announcements:
The Silver Social project – Breckland Council was supporting its older people by aiming to confront the issue of isolation experienced by older residents in rural areas. A daytime arts programme had been launched in five villages across Breckland that had already attracted 161 participants. In the New Year a ‘Sing Your Song’ workshop hosted by the daughter of David Dimbleby would be going on a tour of all the libraries in Breckland.
Community Fridge – Breckland Council, the Wayland Partnership and Recycle for Norfolk had launched Norfolk’s first ever ‘community fridge’. The fridge had been located in the Wayland Partnership's offices at Wayland House in Watton and was open every day to enable residents and businesses to share surplus food for free. Since the launch, 103kg of food had been donated and any that had not been distributed to those in need had been given to the Wayland Academy to feed their chickens. Building on this success, and as part of the Market Towns Initiative, two more fridges were going to be provided in Swaffham and Thetford before Christmas. This programme would form the largest network of community fridges outside of London.
Norfolk and Waveney Stars – unfortunately, budgets were becoming more constrained; however, Breckland Council wanted to do as much as possible to support its communities. The Leader had attended an Award Ceremony run by Archant and sponsored by Breckland Council along with other District, County and City Councils in the area to celebrate the real heroes in our communities. Lewis Tibbs won the Volunteer of the Year Award for the Breckland area.
On 21 November 2017, Breckland Council joined local authorities across the Country in participating in the #OurDay social media event that aimed to raise awareness of the range of work being delivered in a typical day by elected members, staff and partners to support local communities and businesses. A positive public engagement campaign had been held and the Leader had been encouraged by the support of Breckland’s local services.
As for the present day, Breckland Council’s draft Local Plan, a blueprint for growth in the District to meet housing, employment and infrastructure needs to 2036, had been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination following a very long period of work. The Leader conveyed his thanks to members, staff, the community representatives and partners for getting the Council to this point. An independent Planning Inspector would now consider whether the draft Plan was sound and legally compliant and it was likely that an Examination in Public would be held in early 2018. If found sound, it was anticipated that the Local Plan would be adopted by Breckland Council in late summer 2018. Alongside this, communities in Breckland were successfully taking advantage of preparing their own Neighbourhood Plans and to date, Yaxham, Mattishall and Attleborough already had Plans and 9 others were being progressed.
The Leader thanked the Chief Executive and her team, and all staff for all their hard work and commitment at a time when budgets were tight.
Councillor Jermy felt that the Silver Social project was a really good example to help stress the need for public transport in Breckland and was concerned that Norfolk County Council (NCC) was proposing more cuts in its budget which would mean fewer bus routes in the area. He asked the Leader if he would be submitting a response to NCC. The Leader advised that Breckland Council would indeed be submitting a response to these budget cuts.
Referring to the Planning Team, a member felt that the Director of Planning and Building Control, Alex Chrusciak and the new Interim Head of Development Management, Jon Berry were both doing a sterling job in the absence of Mike Brennan. It was agreed that Jon Berry would be invited to a future Council meeting to meet Members.