|Latest Information, Advice, Useful Links and Service Updates
Updated 16 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 Englandand 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.
Information for Councillors
Leader’s reaction to Government’s winter Covid-19 strategy:
On Tuesday, the Government announced its five pillars strategy for handling COVID-19 over the winter.
Norfolk County Council leader Councillor Andrew Proctor said: “The success of the vaccination programme has been a major part of the country’s response to Covid. I welcome the clarity that the Prime Minister has provided, regarding booster vaccinations for the over 50s and the 5 point plan and measures proposed to manage any increase in cases over winter. I support completely having a contingency plan if the NHS comes under unsustainable pressure.
“Winter is always a challenging time for health and care services and the potential for more Covid and flu cases shows the need for continued vigilance by all of us. Even people who have been double jabbed can catch Covid and get ill which is why it’s essential everyone gets vaccinated.
“I continue to urge people to follow the hands, face, space advice, to take lateral flow tests twice a week, to keep buildings well ventilated and wear masks where appropriate. Please follow self-isolation advice, if you do test positive.
“The pandemic is far from over but based on how sensibly most people in Norfolk have acted, thinking of others to control the spread of the virus, I’m confident that this is the way we will continue, to face down the worst risks this winter. We want to ensure we can both respond to the virus and recover from it by keeping our economy open and hopefully avoid any further lockdowns”
Latest national announcements
The Prime Minister has reshuffled his cabinet, with major changes including Liz Truss replacing Dominic Raab as foreign secretary and the sacking of Robert Jenrick and Gavin Williamson, who have been replaced in their respective roles of Local Government and Communities secretary and Education Secretary by Michael Gove and Nadhim Zahawi.
Using drones to deliver vaccines as part of Government innovation fund:
The project, to be run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), is one of 21 bold new initiatives backed by the government’s Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to propel cutting-edge innovation across the UK.
The Fund supports projects led by regulators and local authorities that help support the country’s regulatory environment to keep pace with technological advances of the future – benefiting both entrepreneurs and consumers.
Using its grant, the CAA will develop world-first standards for special containers that will allow drones to safely carry sensitive goods like medical products, so that remote communities can access critical supplies without delay. At present, there is no regime anywhere in the world for testing and approving these containers to make sure that they do not leak even in the event of a crash.
National Highways announces multi-billion renewals programme:
National Highways today announced deals with 50 supply chain partners to carry out up to £3.6 billion worth of renewals to keep England’s motorways and major A roads running safely and smoothly. This work is awarded as part of the government-owned company’s brand new six-year Scheme Delivery Framework (SDF).
The framework will enable the delivery of renewals across a range of activities, including substantial civil work on barriers and drainage, traffic management activities and design services for a range of projects. It replaces the soon to expire existing contract mechanisms, known as the Construction Works Framework (CWF), Design Services Contracts (DSC) and Asset Support Contract (ASC).
All children aged 12-15 in England will be offered one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, following advice from England’s Chief Medical Officers which overrides the Joint Committee for Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI)’s advice not recommending vaccines for 12-15 year olds.
In addition, the Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that booster jabs would be rolled out from next week for those over 50 or with serious immune conditions.
Shielding Programme ends for most vulnerable:
People previously considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable will not be advised to shield again, as the government agrees to end the requirement for centralised guidance for these groups following expert clinical advice. The closure of the shielding programme follows a pause to shielding guidance in place since 1 April 2021.
This decision is based on there being far more information available on the virus and what makes individuals more or less vulnerable, the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and the emergence of proven treatments, such as dexamethasone and tocilizumab, to support improved outcomes in clinical care pathways.
Shielding was introduced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the few interventions available to support those who were considered to be most at risk of serious illness from the virus.
Calls are growing for the government to prioritise dualling the A47, as the chance for members of the public to have their say on the roads in Norfolk opens up for this year.
Members of the public can let Highways England know how important dualling the A47 is by sharing their experiences of the road via the National Highways Route Strategies feedback tool.
The feedback is collected by National Highways, (formerly Highways England) and the body responsible for maintaining the A47. The A47 trunk road is managed by National Highways on behalf of the Government and runs from just past Peterborough in the west and across the breadth of Norfolk to Lowestoft in the east.
Currently just 47 per cent of the route is dual carriageway and while National Highways have committed to making improvements to the road, including dualling some stretches, this will still leave substantial sections of the A47 as single carriageway with no current plans to dual them.
A fully-dualled A47 would bring significant benefits to the counties and communities along its route. Shorter and more reliable journey times along the road and onwards to the Midlands would not only improve quality of life for many residents but also provide a huge boost to the regional economy by attracting new businesses, supporting existing businesses to grow and become more profitable, encouraging more visitors to the region and creating more jobs.
Active Norfolk has launched Getting Norfolk Moving, its new five-year strategy to outline how the active partnership will help more of the people that can benefit most to be more active.
Being active helps our physical and mental health. It aids children and young people’s development and supports educational outcomes, and it plays an important role in bringing people and communities together.
But we know that right now across Norfolk there are many people, families, and communities that aren’t able to experience these benefits. This is due to a wide range of health, financial, and social reasons. Tackling inequalities, and working more closely with communities, are central themes of Getting Norfolk Moving.
Active Norfolk is hosting a series of drop-in sessions to give stakeholders and those with an interest in the subject a chance to hear from the Active Norfolk team about the strategy and their approach. Click here to download a summary of the strategy, watch their launch video, and register for one of the drop-in sessions.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service:
The Fire and Rescue Service has been sharing details of national safety campaigns in recent weeks, which impact on their work. Last week was Business Safety Week, where they encouraged Norfolk firms to check their fire safety procedures, which may have changed due to Covid-19 in terms of the number of trained fire marshalls, any one-way systems in buildings and use of fire exits.
This week the service is encouraging residents to ensure gas appliances are regularly serviced to help prevent fires, explosions and gas leaks- as part of Gas Safety Week.
Next week there is a campaign nationally around ensuring fire doors are correctly fitted and not propped open. Fire doors help to compartmentalise a fire, giving those in the building vital time to escape as well as limiting damage. One example of this in practice was a care home fire the service attended earlier this year, where a fire door prevented a tumble dryer fire spreading beyond the laundry, meaning staff and residents could be safely and quickly evacuated.
Such campaigns form just a small part of their prevention and protection work across the service.
The Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service offers home fire safety checks to elderly and vulnerable residents across Norfolk. If you know somebody that would benefit from one, you can fill in their details here and the service will get in touch. Fire safety at home – Norfolk County Council
|Follow up to the Highways Webinars|
|Over the past two weeks we have had three webinars with the Highways Team. The amount of information shared by them was immense and they explained in detail what they have to do with their comparativly small teams and how they do it. All of us who attended were simply amazed. So important is their work to all parish and town councils that I am taking the unusual step of making the presentations and recordings of all these meetings available to all parishes whether they attended or not. The second half of each recording is almost like an FAQ section as they answered a broad range of questions from councillors and clerks who attended.
I have attached the presentations from the North and South webninars and the links to access the recordings is set out in the table below. Slecting the link will take you to our own WeTransfer site – just follow the instructions and download the file to your own computer. It will take some time. So, best to start the download before making yourself a cup of coffee.
|Advance notice of upcoming Webinars|
|To Tree or Not to Tree, that is the question : 7 p.m. Wednesday 27th October
Mark Webster of the community conservation volunteering charity TCV(https://www.tcv.org.uk/) will set out some options for what best to do with your under-used or overgrown patches of land and how you can get help to do the work from TCV.
Discussion with NCC on the Budget Consultation : tbc but probably first week of November
Discussion with a Defra funded initiative to find (and fund) up to six parish based projects to explore new ways to manage excess water. Tbc but probably 14th or 21stOctober.
Meet the PageantMaster : tbc but probably in the week of 7th or 14th October. The Pageant Master is responsible for organising a great deal to do with the upcoming celebrations around the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – an event which is certainly unique in our lifetimes and very possibly – unless they find the secret of eternal life – unique in the history of our kingdom.
Resilience and Emergency Planning : tbc but several throughout November
|Sorry to give you so much to read and digest but it is all good and useful information.|
|With kind regards
John W Pennell FRSA
Director & Chairman of the Well-Being Initiative