Ageing population and disappearing coastline highlighted as key Norfolk challenges

Ageing population and disappearing coastline highlighted as key Norfolk challenges
Dr Jess French summarised the actions needed to combat these issues identified at the summit. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Disappearing coastline, a growing and ageing population and fast evolving technology changing people’s lives – these are among the challenges and opportunities Norfolk faces in 20 years’ time, a recent summit has heard.

Now, the county council and other Norfolk organisations, including the District, City and Borough Councils, have carried out detailed research and pledged to work together to tackle these issues – and make the most of opportunities, such as autonomous vehicles.

The county Council brought together public sector and business organisations from across Norfolk for the First Futures Summit, along with representatives from the education sector and local organisations, including Extinction Rebellion, to discuss these challenges and how to work together to face them. The Summit was also joined by North West Norfolk MP James Wild.

Council leader Councillor Andrew Proctor said: “The future brings challenges as well as opportunities. Issues like our ageing population, climate change and increased automation mean that we cannot afford to stand still.

“By looking ahead and understanding these issues, we can work together on a bold and collective response – shaping future investment and enabling us to get the best outcomes for the people of Norfolk.

“The Council has today acted as a strategic convener, bringing together leaders and influencers to draw on their expert knowledge, but we will only succeed if we are all committed to work better together, for the long term.”

The council has carried out an extensive review of the issues that are likely to affect Norfolk over the next 20 years, which was presented to a summit of Norfolk organisations this month.

Key issues include:

  • A 15 per cent overall population increase and a 96 per cent increase in the number of over-85s – so there will be fewer working people, as a proportion of the total
  • 75 per cent of new jobs will be in Norwich, posing issues for rural areas
  • 30 per cent of current jobs will be automated
  • Norfolk will have some of the biggest rises in temperature nationally and coastal marshes in north Norfolk could be lost to the sea
  • Declining turnout at elections and declining membership of political parties – creating a risk that more people will disengage from democracy

The Futures Summit agreed to:

  • Explore the public sector’s ability to support talent, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs to set up in Norfolk and offer workers of all ages an opportunity to use their talents in the workplace
  • Look into developing a strategic sustainable infrastructure and environment plan for Norfolk
  • Work to make Norfolk a place to be born, thrive and live out long lives full of opportunity as engaged citizens
  • Recognise that Communities are built from the bottom up, and to work together to celebrate and build on the initiatives that are already happening on our doorstep to deliver better outcomes for all