NCC News Sept 21

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Latest Information, Advice, Useful Links and Service Updates

Updated 30 September 2021

This weekly briefing is intended as a resource to keep you up to date with the latest information and advice.

COVID-19 Trusted sources of information

The most recent verified data on cases in the UK and Norfolk is available from Public Health England and Norfolk Insights.

Everyone has a key role in promoting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus and www.gov.uk/coronavirus as trusted sources of information to the public.  It is important to ensure people go to the right sources of information and keep up to date with how to look after themselves.

Keep up to date: We have a dedicated webpage for coronavirus updates in Norfolk and impact on Norfolk County Council services. This is updated regularly so please do re-visit this page.

Service updates: The most up to date information on council services can be found at Norfolk County Council services disruptions. The council will continue to monitor its services and, if regulations and circumstances change, it will review its current plans.

 

LGA responds to latest quarterly housing supply figures

Quarterly housing supply figures released today, showing a 5 per cent decrease in the number of dwellings where building work has started on site, compared to the last quarter.  Cllr David Renard, Local Government Association housing spokesperson, said:

“Councils want to work with government to build the housing we need, ensuring it is affordable, built in the right places and supported by the right infrastructure to serve the needs of local communities.

“This is why we are calling on government in the Spending Review to give councils the powers and funding they need to build 100,000 green social homes for rent each year, which would help to tackle homelessness and achieve a third of the Government’s annual housing target.

“This should include further reform to Right to Buy, by allowing councils to retain 100 per cent of receipts, have flexibility to combine Right to Buy receipts with other government grants and be able to set the size of discounts locally.

“With over 1.1 million homes given planning permission in the last decade also yet to be built, developers need to be incentivised to build housing more quickly.”

Information for Councillors

Fuel disruption – Councillor briefing

1. Situation update

Availability is perhaps slightly better today (Wednesday), with petrol in particular more easily obtainable.

Disruption to public services has mainly been through critical workers who use their own cars for service delivery – for example home care workers and front-line social workers – being unable to get fuel or spending a great deal of time searching for or queuing for fuel. The fuel disruption has also to some extent affected critical workers travelling to work.

The effect on services delivered through emergency vehicles – such as fire appliances – has been less. This is in part because these vehicles are typically given priority without any question at fuel stations and in part because of access to private fuel stocks – albeit that fuel is only held in a few locations across the county, so this mechanism is avoided where possible.

There has been minor disruption to home-to-school transport, generally in rural areas, but no disruption to bus services.

The disruption to home care and the difficulties in staff travelling to residential care homes needs to be seen in the broader context of recruitment problems and the ongoing effects of Covid-19. So far, services are coping fairly well, but prolonged disruption could add to the existing strain.

2. NCC response

As well as supporting the Norfolk Resilience Forum, the County Council has issued priority-worker passes to critical care workers, because in some cases they were being declined access to fuel where others with a more ‘visible’ public service role, such as uniformed NHS staff, were being served. The council is coordinating advice and help to the care sector and is working to communicate the importance of care staff to fuel stations. In some cases it has been able to arrange for priority to be given to critical workers by marshals.

3. NRF response

The Norfolk Resilience Forum has been in session since Friday coordinating the response to fuel disruption.

The NRF fuel cell is in operation to coordinate an understanding of daily fuel needs, fuel availability and agency stockpiles.

4. How you can help

We would be grateful for councillors’ support in reinforcing the fundamental messages:

Lasting Memorial for Every Town and Parish Council

The work of communities across the county, which pulled together in the challenging times of the pandemic, is being recognised with a lasting memorial.

Lady Dannatt, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Norfolk, has commissioned a plaque for every parish and town council in the county using the design skills of Ruby Douglass and the wording from a team at Norwich’s National Centre for Writing.  Deputy Lieutenants closest to each parish or town will distribute the plaques over the coming months. 

The cost of the project has been covered by generous sponsorship from Adnams, the Red Socks Charitable Trust, the Geoffrey Watling Charity, the Pennycress Trust, the Kip and Alison Bertram Trust and the Sybil Cholmondeley Trust.

Parish and town councils, which have not made an application for a plaque already, should email:Wellbeing@NorfolkALC.gov.uk

For further information please contact: Mary Rudd DL, 07831 719573.

£70,000 community fund could boost green projects

A £70,000 online crowd funding scheme, to support environmental and community projects, is set to be launched by the county council.

Crowd Fund Norfolk would enable communities to bid for the council to fund half the cost of a local environmental scheme, with the community raising the remainder. The maximum grant would be £15,000.

A report to the council’s cabinet says: “There is potential for this platform to boost community engagement by supporting community-driven projects benefitting local areas. A wide section of the community can be engaged through the crowdfunding process and the engagement enables significant financial contributions to be raised from the community for projects that matter most to them.  In addition to enhancing community engagement, Crowd Fund Norfolk will enable the county council to make its funding go further by drawing in community donations for selected projects.”

The report says the £70,000 could attract up to three times that amount in match funding from the community and other sources.

If the scheme is a success, the council intends to expand it to fund a wider range of projects.

New drive to accelerate use of electric vehicles

A new drive to accelerate the use of electric vehicles in Norfolk is being considered by the county council’s cabinet.

A report says more charging points could be provided on Norwich streets, at village halls and community hubs and in parking spaces for every new house.

In April there were already 2,631 electric vehicles registered across Norfolk – with 22 per cent in South Norfolk and only five per cent in Great Yarmouth.

There are also relatively few public chargers, with Norwich home to 44 of the 198 currently across Norfolk as a whole.

The report says electric vehicles currently make up 0.6% of the total vehicles on the road in Norfolk in 2020 but is set to increase tenfold by 2025, before rapidly increasing to 27% by 2030.

The electric vehicle strategy is one part of the work underway by the county council to achieve its ambitious target of net zero carbon by 2030. The strategy will complement other sustainable transport initiatives to boost active travel and cut carbon outputs, such as the hire schemes for e-scooters and e-bikes in Great Yarmouth and Norwich, and new zero emission buses.

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NEWS RELEASE

28 September 2021

Call for School Governors to address shortage in Norfolk
A new campaign has been launched asking members of the public to become school governors and play a role in supporting future generations.

School governors play a vital role in the community of a school by supporting school staff and monitoring the school’s performance. Governors work alongside senior leadership in schools to help advice and support on strategic decisions.

Nania Poulson, a parent Governor and Co-Chair of Governors at Avenue Rd School, Norwich, said “I became a parent governor at Avenue Junior School, Norwich  in 2013, at that time I had one son at the school and one at Recreation Road Infant School. It was a huge learning curve as I had no previous experience of governing and no knowledge of education or schools, apart from my own experience. I felt really supported by the other governors and there was (and still is) plenty of training available. At the time I worked in small family business, so I really enjoyed working the team of governors and being part of a much bigger picture. It was a fantastic way to gain experience of working strategically and being part of a board. It was fascinating to gain an understanding of the political and economic landscape of a totally different sector and to have the opportunity to work with a wide range of people with a variety of skills and experience.

“Governing does require commitment and time (but only a few hours a month) and what I have got back from it is immeasurable. It has been a great way to be involved in the life of the school at which my children spent so much of their childhood. It continues to be a privilege to have the opportunity to help shape the vision and values of the school and to be an active part of such an important part of our community. “

The campaign is Norfolk is encouraging everyone over 18 to consider whether they could become a governor. With the focus on encouraging diversity from across the county, the campaign hopes to create a more representative and inclusive selection of governors. There is also a national shortage of school governors, so Norfolk is not alone in seeking new governors.

Steve Thurlow, Chair of Governors at Sheringham Woodfields School, said “I have a background in adult learning and have been involved with children with special needs in the past, so getting involved with Sheringham Woodfields was an easy decision. I became a Governor in 2018 to add a perspective from the business world to the Board. And in 2020 I became Chair.  I believe I bring some knowledge and best practice from the corporate Boardroom to our team. In return, I have gained great insights into the challenges school faces, formed some great new relationships, and enjoyed a huge amount of satisfaction from contributing to a happy and effective school. Not least, being a Chair gives my six-year-old granddaughter bragging rights over classmates at her school!”

Cllr John Fisher, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said “Being a school governor is incredibly rewarding; it’s a great way to give back to the local community and play a part in ensuring that the school and staff have the resources and support they need to do their jobs well.

The main tasks of a governor are to think, and to question; to see things from a different angle and help senior school leadership to make the right decisions. You don’t need to be an expert in education or data, but if you’re passionate about helping your local school thrive then it might be the perfect role for you.”

There are currently approximately 5,500 governors in Norfolk – all local people serving the schools and young people in their local communities, and you could be the next one. All governors have to be aged over 18 and will be subject to DBS checks, but we’d encourage people from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds to apply or get in touch for more information.

If you’d like to volunteer as a school governor, you can download our application form and explore these webpages to find out if the role is right for you or someone you know.

You can also email governor.services@norfolk.gov.uk for more information.