Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)
To receive a verbal update from Councillor Nunn, Leader of the Council.
In the absence of the Leader, the Deputy Leader made the following announcements:
· Local Government Chronicle Awards – Breckland Council had been shortlisted for an award under the ‘Innovation’ category for Breckland Training Services. The presentation to the panel of judges would take place in London on Friday, 25 January 2019 and the results would be announced in March 2019. The Deputy Leader believed that it showed the moral courage of Members which the Chairman had alluded to earlier - that occasionally Breckland Council was bold and was innovative in its ways; the Riverside complex had reflected that, but more importantly, it had been a real accolade for the Council moving forward.
· Key Tenant in Thetford – an industrial unit in Brunel Way, Thetford, currently leased by Warburtons Ltd, was recently purchased by Breckland Council using monies from the Council’s Growth and Investment fund. The Deputy Leader felt that these innovative ways of working enabled the Council to deliver frontline services whilst keeping the Council Tax down. Warburtons was one of the key tenants in Thetford and showed resilience within the market place for commercial units within Thetford and the A11 tech corridor and proved that the Team, once again, who delivered Riverside, were continuing to look for the right investment assets within the District.
· Norwich Western Link Route Options Consultation (formerly the Northern Distributor Road (NDR)) - Members had received an email in relation to the four shortlisted road options designed to improve travel between the A47 and the western end of Broadland Northway and tackle transport problems in this area. Breckland Council had yet to respond but the Deputy Leader was aware that many Ward Members and parishes in Breckland that would be affected had already responded. This matter would be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting in February and Members were encouraged to attend. Breckland Council would then write to Norfolk County Council with its comments for consideration.
· Silver Social Award – Breckland Council had been shortlisted for the prestigious National Campaign for the Arts' (NCA) "Hearts for the Arts Awards 2019", with the Council's Silver Social Project nominated for "Best Local Authority Arts Initiative". This was a phenomenal accomplishment and the Deputy Leader thanked Councillor Claussen and Councillor Turner and the Community Team for all that they had achieved.
Councillor Wassell asked the Deputy Leader if he agreed that both Riverside and Breckland Training Services (BTS) were projects that, initially, were not widely supported. He felt that credit should be paid to Councillor Smith for the inauguration of BTS as he had been one of the main proponents for the creation of that service. As far as Riverside was concerned, Councillor Wassell reminded Members that this came to fruition when he was Leader of the Council, and again there had been some opposition; however, the letter that had been read by the Chairman, demonstrated the fact that this authority was an entrepreneurial Council that had a risk taking appetite which, in the end, had proved in both cases, to be the right decision.
The Deputy Leader fully agreed with the aforementioned comments. He remembered Councillor Smith, as a former Cabinet Member, who at the time had fought for the creation of BTS which as a Team had thrived and gone from strength to strength. Riverside was also a brave decision of the Council and many of Breckland’s neighbouring authorities as well as nationally were very envious that this Council was able to put such a big investment into one of the Council’s market towns. Thetford was the fourth biggest market town in Norfolk and had a great opportunity and a great future and thankfully all those who had been opposed to the project could see what Breckland had achieved and would continue to achieve within that community.
Councillor Bambridge, the Executive Member for Growth commented on the link road. He was very pleased that Breckland was involved and was taking this matter seriously enough to bring it to Cabinet and indeed to comment on it. He had submitted his comments on-line as it affected one of his, and Councillor Smith’s Wards - the most affected Ward by the absence of a link road, and would most probably take the most advantage of it coming into existence. He encouraged all Members to visit Norfolk County Council’s website and put forward their comments. The Deputy Leader also encouraged all Members and the wider community to engage in the consultation.