View from County Hall

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 20:21

I sit on the committee that is considering the Western Link – the so called “missing link” – between the A1067 Fakenham Road and the A47. My objective is to minimise the impact, and get the maximum benefits, for the parishes I represent.

A series of consultation events are being held at different venues up to Tuesday 3 July. You can find details of these events and also respond online HERE

I would encourage you to register your views and experiences of any transport issues that exist to the west of the city and what, if anything, you believe needs to be done to improve travel in this area.

With the completion of the NDR a lot of people said they were concerned about congestion, rat-running and other issues.

Once the consultation closes we will analyse the responses over the summer and let people know the results later this year and what, if anything, we propose to do to tackle any of the transport issues identified.

If you have any questions now or throughout the consultation, please get in touch with me or email norwichwesternlink@norfolk.gov.uk

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 13:04

On the morning of 25 April I arrived early in Reepham’s Market Place to take part in BBC Radio Norfolk’s live outside broadcast to discuss the routing of the offshore wind farm cables. The producer had told me I would be interviewed at 8.15 am and advised me to get there in good time.

So I strolled into the market square at 7.30 am, grabbed a coffee and thought I would go to Johnsons to get a paper.

As I approached I caught sight of the police cars and tape across the road and immediately saw the burning wreck of the teleporter and the smashed shop front. Like all of us, I assume, after the initial shock my reaction was to get very angry.

When asked for my comments by Radio Norfolk’s Nick Conrad I mentioned that as this had happened twice in six years I thought that we would want to talk to the police about how we could prevent this happening again.

To their credit the police immediately contacted me and we fixed up a meeting for 11 May. Myself, District Councillor Graham Everett and Reepham Town Council chairman Les Paterson had a very productive meeting with Sergeant Ed Watson, district engagement officer PC Rob Devlin and the new Reepham beat manager, PC Colin Bailey.

 

Left to right: Temporary Police Sergeant Ed Watson; Broadland District Councillor Graham Everett; Reepham Town Council chairman Les Paterson; Norfolk County Councillor Greg Peck; and Reepham Beat Manager PC Colin Bailey.

 

Sergeant Watson took us through the action the police had already taken and are continuing to take. He also explained the methods being deployed to stop organised crime gangs operating in the county. It was very impressive and I have no doubt they will find the culprits.

To reinforce my view, the previous ram raid took place in May 2012, the police made arrests in October 2012, and five individuals were eventually convicted of the crime and sent to prison.

In terms of preventing it happening again, we discussed various preventative measures, some of which may have some merit. However, it became clear that the best way to beat these organised crime gangs is through intelligence. In this respect the police have asked for the support of the public.

In particular they request we all remain vigilant and report anything suspicious. Prior to a ram raid the gang will steal various vehicles, number plates, crane straps (for lifting the ATM onto the getaway vehicle), etc.

Some of these on their own may seem insignificant; for example, prior to a previous ram raid, after the theft of a couple of lifting straps the owner didn’t bother to report the crime to the police. The straps were later found at the crime scene and one fingerprint helped catch the criminals.

The earlier the police are aware the quicker they can deploy surveillance teams to prevent a crime taking place.

If you have any such information or if you are aware of the theft of any tools or equipment that could be used in a crime, please contact PC Colin Bailey. Email: baileyc2@norfolk.pnn.police.uk or if you prefer call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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