Leader's Announcements (Agenda item 5)
To receive a verbal update from Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen, Leader of the Council.
The Leader thanked the Chairman for his stewardship over the past year and for the incredible work he had carried out particularly for his chosen charities.
As this was the final meeting of Full Council under the current political term, the Leader reflected on some of the things this Council had achieved recently on behalf of the residents and businesses of Breckland.
He was delighted that Breckland Council would shortly have the opportunity to show what a difference this council was making to some of its residents most in need, when the Princess Royal visits Elm House, in Thetford where She would be able to see how this authority’s £1.8m investment has enabled an award-winning refurbishment to take place and brought a dis-used community facility back into use for the Breckland community. Elm House was providing a temporary home for up to 35 people who were in need of temporary housing and support.
Whilst on the Elm House site, the Princess Royal would also be able to see the new Move-On Accommodation which had recently been completed. These five new homes formed part of a multi-million-pound investment to tackle homelessness in the district and had been delivered using external grant funding and in partnership with Broadland Housing Group. The former rough sleepers who were now moving into the new homes would be provided with essential support from Breckland Council’s partner Access Community Trust, that would help them rebuild their lives.
In a few weeks’ time, representatives from the Council would be going to London to make a case to a panel of judges as to why this district council should win a prestigious award for its outstanding Inspiring Communities work.
As finalists in the LGC awards, this authority’s £1m programme had already been recognised as exceptional and the judges would be told of how it had operated in ways that no other district council in the country was working. Alongside partners in the NHS and charity sectors, Breckland Council was helping to deliver the very best, holistic care to its residents, helping them with access to mental health support, tackling domestic abuse, reducing isolation and loneliness, and helping individuals overcome financial difficulties.
Over the last term, this Council had invested heavily in communities throughout the Breckland district. A further £41,000 in grant funding had been announced, bringing the total released over the lifetime of the Inspiring Communities scheme to more than £300,000. This was on top of the hundreds of thousands this Council had invested in communities through the Market Towns Initiative, which had helped deliver projects such as the Queen Mother’s Garden refurbishment in Dereham, that was officially opened recently.
It had overseen the ongoing growth of Breckland and the safeguarding of jobs. Most recently with the completion of the new power substation in Snetterton, which would enable existing businesses to grow and new businesses to come into the area, bringing jobs for local people.
A most comprehensive plan had been produced for the district’s future growth in this council’s history, through the Future Breckland programme. Working with communities, this Council had developed a blueprint for Breckland and secured the support of its partners, which would ensure Breckland continued to be a district that thrived and create higher-paid jobs for local people.
For future generations, as part of this Council’s 2035 commitment to promote sustainability, it was announced that a brand-new strategic partnership with the National Trust had been established. This would see this authority fund the planting of up to 3000 trees at the National Trust’s Oxburgh Hall, where a brand-new forest would be created later this year. This joint working was part of the ongoing work to plant more trees in Breckland as well as contributing to the National Trust’s overall aim of planting 20 million trees across the country.
This Council had the pleasure of recently welcoming back the LGA Peer Review team to carry out an independent health check on the organisation where Breckland Council passed with flying colours. The report from the Peer Review team noted that ‘great progress was being made’ and Breckland Council had an ‘increased level of organisational maturity’ a very firm footing as it moved into the next term of this Council’s history.
Additionally, the results of a Breckland resident survey showed that local people had high levels of trust and satisfaction in this Council.
Nationally, around six-in-ten people stated that they had trust in their local council, but in Breckland this level was around 80% - a significantly higher figure than the national trend. Similarly, Breckland residents reported higher-than-average satisfaction with the Council, which was a phenomenal result and highlighted just how valued the work of this Council over the last few months and years had been - and the difference it had made for the people and businesses of Breckland.
Finally, with just a few weeks to go before the local elections, the Leader took the opportunity to sincerely thank all members, of all political backgrounds, for their hard work, contribution to the debates at meetings, their dedication to this Council and to the district and above all to the residents and businesses of Breckland. He also thanked Councillor Martin for his 4 decades of incredible support to this Council, and for those who were standing for another term in May, he wished them all the very best of luck.