Quietest pre-elections ever! By Richard Bird political correspondent

Next Month on Thursday 6th of May there will be Norfolk County Council elections. The lesser known, Police and Crime Commissioner’s office will also be on the ballot papers.

I have been involved with politics at all levels for decades and due to obvious issues, specifically Brexit and Covid 19, this upcoming election has been the quietest I have ever known.

There has been hardly any news about this event, the door to door canvassing has been, for the same obvious reason, non-existent, there have been very few press releases from any individuals, parties or groups. Hardly any adverts in the press, social media or T.V. /Radio. Generally these elections will create possibly the lowest turnout we have ever seen. The Suffragettes, and other Votes for all evangelists will be turning in their graves, me thinks.

In the name of democracy, we should all be aware, be prepared and vote according to our belief and conscience, at the rate we are going we will daydream into another 4 years of governance without the knowledge of what has happened. I can hear the calls now ‘They are all the same’,’ it doesn’t matter who I vote for’, and ‘they are all in it for themselves’, brigade, who then put hundreds of complaints on social media, about people they don’t know or didn’t vote for or against. The current democratic system isn’t great but it is what we have and its better than nothing.

It doesn’t matter what your views are at this stage, there will be hardly any opportunities to debate the merits of one party or individual over another, one ideal over another, it’s now virtually too late. At least look at the alternatives before casting your vote, but please, please do vote.

If you feel you cannot risk the Polling Station environment, there may still be time to organise a postal vote, but you must be quick.

So a quick catch up NCC is responsible for:

  1. The disposal of waste (not the collection)
  2. Highways (not completely)
  3. Education (with Exceptions)
  4. Care in the community
  5. Norfolk’s farm estates (mostly in the East of the county) - one of the largest in the country
  6. Watery issues (mostly shared) - Water resilience programs (what happens when flooding occurs (not flood prevention)
  7. Child care, (looked after children) ,a budget in the £billions, 2000 ++staff and so much more. Would you not want a say in how this is managed?

If you are to have a say on what goes on in your area this is your chance, no amount of debate on social media changes much at all but your Norfolk County Councillor can. This is a report from our local NCC councillor Stuart Dark about what he has done with his ‘Local Member Fund’, recently increased by 40% to £10k p/a. Just a very small part of a NCC councillors workload. He Says:

“I had a good conversation (as always) with Richard a few days ago and we got talking about the County Council’s Local Member Fund which is a little known but important, if used right, devolved budget for County Councillors to support initiatives on their Parishes with both funding and prioritisation (initiatives that may not normally meet the bar for action, keep on being put off etc).

“Over my first 4 years in office I've used this to good effect right across Dersingham Ward in co-operation with the Parish Councils, using it as a 'lightning rod' to get things done promptly and increase funding available, even utilising it to pay a significant proportion of the Parish's 50% of the separate 50/50 Parish Partnership Funding scheme (meaning NCC effectively financially supporting a local scheme twice!)

“2017-18 Flitcham bus shelter renovation, Flitcham new safety measures at dangerous narrow bridge, GT Massingham widening and levelling the 100m footway to the GP surgery to help pram/wheelchair access, Snettisham paying for the bus shelter to be repainted (by the scouts), Dersingham widening and levelling of footway to new village hall, Dersingham helping with Right of Way Diversion for new village hall, Wolverton -establishing two Trod paths over uneven ground from the A149 bus stops in an unlit area to aid safety

“2018-19 Snettisham - Paid for investigation, major dredging and piping in Common Rd/bypass alleviating long standing serious flooding putting homes at risk, Dersingham-installing two new disabled friendly bus stops at the GP practice and Village Hall, Sandringham - drainage at persistently flooding road, West Newton Trod path to bus stops over uneven ground to aid safety

“2019-20 Hillington and Flitcham supported the introduction of the shared SAM2 speed reduction sign between the villages, Snettisham -the new gate and levelled footpath adjacent to Watermill, Snettisham-The Trod towards the beach, Ingoldisthorpe paid for the new High viz crossing across the busy Lynn Rd to facilitate walk up to school and to the rec field and bus stop, Great Massingham -bench for walkers.

“2020-21 Snettisham -further payment towards another section of Trod to the beach, Wolverton and Snettisham money set aside to fund junction improvements and safety measures on the A149, Ingoldisthorpe replacement of a number of old/broken/unsafe bollards in centre of village, Great Massingham -tidying and reseeding of grass verges around the centre of the village”.

So in closing these elections are important, we have some very good councillors and they deserve your support, some will be retiring and new prospective candidates need the public to underscore their ambitions some think they can do a better job than the incumbent and they too need your vote to endorse their plans for the betterment of the County.