View from County Hall

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 08:51

By Cllr Greg Peck

Norfolk County Council is holding a Carers Support Day on Friday 14 June at The Forum in Norwich to recognise and celebrate the huge contribution that carers play in people’s lives and to promote the support available to them from across Norfolk.

The event coincides with Carers Week, a national campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlighting the challenges unpaid carers face and recognising the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

The County Council will be hosting stalls and events in The Forum throughout the day from 10 am to 4 pm.

An estimated 100,000 people in Norfolk provide unpaid care (that’s around one in nine people).

Carers Week is about connecting carers to their communities and the event at The Forum will be hosting organisations, groups and networks from across Norfolk who can help with the difficulties, stresses and challenges of caring.

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 20:06

By Cllr Greg Peck

The development of a Norwich Western Link, to connect the Broadland Northway, formerly known as the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR), from the A1067 to the A47 west of Norwich, is one of Norfolk County Council’s top infrastructure priorities.

Since construction began on the Broadland Northway there have been sustained calls to fill in the “missing link”.

With cross-party support, the County Council has supported the development of a Norwich Western Link for a number of years and council members agreed in 2016 to include it as one of the county’s top three major infrastructure priorities.

The Council published four shortlisted road options for a Norwich Western Link, designed to improve travel between the A47 and the western end of Broadland Northway and tackle transport problems in this area.

A public consultation on four shortlisted options for a Norwich Western Link was held between November 2018 and January 2019. Since then, a great deal of work has been carried out – and continues to be carried out – with the aim of identifying a preferred route.

Analysing the responses received to the consultation is one of the elements that will inform this decision, but there are many other important factors that need to be considered, including: the results from ecological surveys and environmental information; the routes’ effectiveness at improving traffic issues in the area and meeting the other project objectives; and costs and the ratio of those costs to the benefits they are likely to create.

We still have work to do, so we don’t have a preferred route yet. However, we hope to make a decision on this in mid-July.

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - 20:56

By Cllr Greg Peck

May sees the start of the political year at County Hall and this year we have seen a major change to the governance system in place there.

A vote to formally reintroduce the cabinet system was held at the annual general meeting of Norfolk County Council on 7 May, which also saw an executive leader model brought in.

This means the chief executive officer, who resigned some months ago, will not be replaced. Effectively the leader and CEO roles have been merged and a corporate board created.

When the Rainbow Alliance took control of County Hall in 2013, it changed the way the council was run from a cabinet system to a committee system.

The current administration wanted to revert to a cabinet system, believing it will mean quicker decisions and more accountability. This will enable the Council to move forward with strong, accountable decision-making and drive the transformation programmes that are in place to deliver improved and efficient services.

I have been appointed to the Cabinet and have been given the responsibility for commercial services and asset management. It is a challenge I am looking forward to.

The new Cabinet is already developing plans to balance the books and fulfil its ambitions for the council.

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 18:32

By Cllr Greg Peck

At County Hall we will have some tough decisions to make this year as we struggle to balance the budget.

The many services Norfolk County Council run include ensuring children and young people have the best start in life, providing the fire and rescue service, protecting vulnerable people, maintaining a safe road system and helping to improve the local economy; we spend more than £1 billion pounds a year providing public services.

The use of such services, particularly by those becoming older, is growing every year. Demand is rising, but the amount we receive from central government is declining: we now receive £204 million less each year compared with 2011/12.

We have developed a financial strategy to overcome these challenges, but this means we must continue to make some difficult decisions about how we spend your money.

If you have any questions about County Council policies, or indeed any other matter, please contact me for advice or support.

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Monday, February 4, 2019 - 18:26

By Cllr Greg Peck

This is the time of year when we face the prospect of dipping temperatures and possibly very cold weather, even snow and ice. I’m sure we’re all hoping we won’t have a repeat of the Beast from the East this year.

However, one thing is certain this winter: the elderly and the vulnerable will no doubt be suffering from cold houses, especially those who are struggling to pay their heating and electricity bills. This in turn has an adverse effect on people’s health.

Through the Warm Homes Fund, Norfolk councils are offering funding toward the cost of installing first-time central heating in privately rented or owned homes. The central heating will be at no cost to eligible home owners with up to 75% grant funding for landlords with qualifying tenants.

You are likely to qualify for this if your home has no central heating. This includes homes currently heated by storage heaters, electric radiators, open fires or gas fires, and you have a low income or receive benefits.

If you are struggling to pay heating and electricity bills, or living in a cold property is affecting your health, please contact your local council to see if you are eligible for support.

If you qualify, the Norfolk Warm Home Team will contact you to arrange a survey. If you are eligible, a new central heating system will be installed by an accredited company. This should make it easier to keep warm at home without increasing your fuel bills.

The grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, if you don’t qualify, there may be other ways the Council can support you to keep warm and well.

So if you or any of your friends, family or neighbours need extra help to stay warm and well, for more information and to check eligibility, please contact the Energy Team at Broadland District Council on 01603 430627, email or visit the website

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 12:36

By Cllr Greg Peck

Last week, as we came to the climax of the commemorations of the end of the First World War, I hope you managed to visit the wonderful Broadland Remembers exhibition at Whitwell Station. Broadland District Council did an excellent job of putting the exhibition together.

 

Left to right: Greg Peck, County Councillor, Reepham; Shaun Vincent, Leader, Broadland District Council; and Graham Everett, District Councillor, Reepham.

 

It listed every parish in Broadland with the names of the fallen. It was very humbling to see the long lists from even the smallest villages, often with multiple entries from the same family.

One board had several poems by Wilfred Owen, including my own personal favourite, Dulce et Decorum Est.

The exhibition ran for a week and included talks and a reading by local author Brenda Gostling from her book Sister Poppy at the Front.

We must never forget the debt we owe those men and women who sacrificed so much to give us the freedom we enjoy today.

However, it is not enough to just remember this debt once a year on Remembrance Day. I have signed up as a founder supporter of the campaign for a memorial in Norfolk to the memory of the 97 soldiers from 2nd Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment and other units who were massacred at Le Paradis on 27 May 1940.

The successful evacuation of more than 300,000 troops from Dunkirk in May 1940 was the cornerstone of our eventual victory in the Second World War. It was made possible by the selfless defence of the Dunkirk perimeter by troops who knew they would not be rescued.

One battlefield centred on the villages of Le Paradis and Lestrem. Here, detachments from the Royal Norfolks and the Royal Scots fought the enemy to a standstill, inflicting heavy losses. They surrendered only when they ran out of ammunition.

As prisoners-of-war they were entitled to all the protection of the Geneva Convention. Instead they were massacred by their Waffen SS opponents; machine gunned to the ground and finished off with pistols and bayonets – now known as the Le Paradis Massacre. Ninety seven died, the majority from the Royal Norfolks.

Against all the odds, two men survived and led a successful post-war campaign to bring to justice the officer responsible for the massacre. He was found guilty of war crimes and executed in 1949.

The massacre, the courage and the sacrifice are still remembered by the French, and there are several memorials in Le Paradis and Lestrem to those who died.

However, there is no permanent memorial in Norfolk to these heroes. We need to do something about this. You can visit the campaign website.

For the full story of the massacre click HERE

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Monday, November 19, 2018 - 15:27

By Cllr Greg Peck

I recently had the honour of attending Broadland District Council’s Community at Heart Awards, which celebrate the achievements of people from the Broadland area who have made an exceptional contribution to their community.

Winners were chosen from categories, including carer of the year, young person of the year and environmental champion of the year, from nominations made by members of the public.

Among the winners was Ben Bartram, who was named as young person of the year, for his wheelchair tennis achievements.

Another young winner was 12-year-old Nadia Sparkes, who was named as environmental champion of the year for her commitment to litter picking. She is known as the “Trash Kid”, the nickname she acquired from bullies but has now appropriated and printed on her T-shirt. I had the added privilege of presenting her with her award.

Each winner was presented with a trophy, certificate and £100 in shopping vouchers. Highly commended finalists were also presented with certificates.

One of the highly commended finalists was Sophie Tudor of Reepham, who was nominated in the inspiration of the year category.

Sophie, who has congenital heart disease, was told by her cardiologist that her weight was putting her health at risk. She went on to lose a third of her bodyweight and she now inspires others.

Seeing all the fantastic achievements of our residents was very uplifting and, although they do not seek recognition, these awards help those impressive members of our community feel appreciated and valued.

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Monday, October 15, 2018 - 22:18

By Cllr Greg Peck

Those who have read my previous articles will know that, being on the Adult Social Care Committee at County Hall and a member of the Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board, I have great interest in supporting vulnerable adults.

One of our strategies is to encourage people to be independent and live at home as long as they can. To enable this we have been looking at assistive technology, which is a range of gadgets that can help people live independently in their own homes.

These include such things as sensors/detectors that link to a monitoring centre via a rented “pendant” alarm; for example, smoke, low temperature, falls and property exit sensors.

There are also Global Positioning System (GPS) location devices that use a mobile network to raise an alert to a carer or monitoring centre.

In addition there are triggers/sensors that can support a person or their carer in and around the home, such as pendant buttons, door contacts or motion sensors linked to a pager.

This service is for adults over 18 years living in their own home (this excludes residential/care homes).

The assistive technology team will carry out an assessment to see if someone could benefit from having any electronic gadgets that could help them to stay independent and/or provide support for their carer.

The assessment is free and many of the gadgets are available on free loan. As part of the assessment they might suggest some other gadgets not provided by them, but which might be useful. The person carrying out the assessment will be able to suggest where these can be purchased.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this scheme, contact Norfolk County Council’s Customer Service Centre and ask for a referral to the assistive technology team. Tel: 0344 800 8020 or email: information@norfolk.gov.uk

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Friday, October 5, 2018 - 12:47

By Cllr Greg Peck

Those of you that travel on the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR) or, as we should now refer to it, Broadland Northway, will have hopefully noticed that Reepham is now on the map.

I managed to persuade Highways to replace the “Local Traffic” sign on the splitter island at the Reepham Road roundabout with a sign that says “Reepham”.

I apologise to all residents, and in particular those who tirelessly lobbied me to fix it, that it took so long. However, we got there in the end (which is probably the same remark uttered by those drivers not local to the area who eventually found Reepham after following the old signs).

Highways issues are becoming a subject on which I am getting an increasing number of requests to resolve: during August I had meetings with several residents in different parts of Reepham on the subject of parking.

Finding a solution to parking problems is often difficult. If you put in restrictions you tend to just move the problem to another part of the town.

In such cases I think the best approach is to involve the Highways officer and the Police, along with myself, in a meeting with concerned residents to discuss the alternatives and try and find a solution.

Beat Officer PC Colin Bailey and Highways engineer Chris Mayes are very accommodating and we have hopefully managed to mitigate the concerns of at least one group of residents.

However, parking will always be a problem and I know the Town Council and Broadland District Council are working to find solutions for the town.

As I reported previously, two Broadland officers, supported by the Town Team members, have toured the town looking for possible solutions. We should soon receive feedback on the findings.

In addition to parking I have ongoing issues with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) driving through the narrow streets of many rural Norfolk villages; in my division these issues are particularly problematic in Foulsham and Cawston, where the size of the vehicles seems to increase every year.

Again, the solutions are not simple. I will always initially try to get a weight restriction, but often Highways will not allow it because it can restrict trade by preventing businesses, hauliers and farmers moving their goods. This is especially so if a neighbouring village has got in first with a weight restriction.

In other villages, such as Themelthorpe, the problem is more with speeding cars. There is something we can do to mitigate this and, together with the Highways Department, there are ongoing discussions with the village committee about ways this could be done.

However, I am still of the opinion that we need a county-wide solution by introducing recommended HGV routes around the whole county to take the pressure off our villages.

Hopefully, once the Western Link of the NDR is completed, that should ease the problem somewhat, as large HGVs should have less need to drive cross-country and through villages.

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council, Reepham Division
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - 18:23

District councils and Norfolk County Council work closely together, with many services run by each being interdependent. Formal collaboration between district councils is also becoming common, with the main benefit to attract more central government funding.

I was proud to chair the cross-party Broadland Lead Member Group, which together with our opposite numbers in South Norfolk has spent the past 10 months overseeing the production of a feasibility study looking at the potential benefits of a collaboration agreement between the two councils.

On 12 July a decision was taken by Broadland District Council and South Norfolk District Council to embrace a strategic collaboration and for one joint officer team to be established to support two autonomous councils.

This is intended to be the starting point to accelerate growth and prosperity in a new combined area, with the potential to deliver savings of around £8.6 million over the first five years.

The combined focus is on driving economic growth, house building and improving the services delivered to provide enhanced benefits to 260,000 residents and 10,000 businesses.

The shared services partnership is intended to make us more efficient and strengthen our hand when working with partners and attracting funding from central government. It will also increase our ability to take advantage of commercial opportunities to deliver better value for residents.

Cllr Greg Peck, Norfolk County Council
Tel: 07972 230282
Email: greg.peck.cllr@norfolk.gov.uk

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