Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Taken from EDP website on 27/12/09. Article written by Ian Clarke. Norfolk's chief constable has been asked to order an urgent inquiry after a Polish man froze to death in a tent in Thetford. The body of Mariusz Fidos, 33, was found at Barnham Common five days before Christmas and he had been sleeping rough in the area with other men, including his twin brother Piotr. It remains unclear how long they had been staying in the area, but there are reports they had been there for several weeks. Peter Smith, Labour parliamentary candidate for South West Norfolk, said he was “extremely concerned” about the events surrounding Mr Fidos's death, especially what had been done to help him and other men . Breckland Council said four men were found sleeping in the area in October, but the Fidos brothers were not among them. Mr Smith said: “I am alarmed that a situation, which was known about for some weeks, was not acted upon in sufficient time to prevent this completely avoidable death.” In a letter to Norfolk police chiefs, Mr Smith said: “What we now see is a concerted effort by Breckland Council to promote the idea that officers and councillors had done everything possible for Mariusz and his fellow 'campers'. This is so evidently not the case.” Mr Smith added: “I am therefore asking you to initiate an urgent police inquiry into all the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, including the roles of all the agencies involved. It is indeed an irony that the Safer Thetford Action Group, knowing in advance of this developing situation, was unable to ensure the safety of this unfortunate man.” A post-mortem examination revealed early indications are that Mr Fidos died from hypothermia. The case has now been passed to the coroner. Police said the man's death remains “unexplained” but a spokesman said there were no suspicious circumstances. Police did not want to comment on Mr Smith's letter. Thetford town councillor Terry Jermy said: “I think we owe it to Mr Fidos to properly examine what happened and learn lessons so that this cannot happen again. I cannot believe that in this country today, someone can be allowed to die from the cold in a tent.” A Breckland Council spokesman said: “In early October, the housing advice and homelessness service visited Barnham Cross Common to offer advice to four men who had been reported as sleeping in a tent. Mariusz and Piotr Fidos were not among the men who were occupying the tent at that time.” A statement said the men were offered help to travel to their home countries, but they declined and expressed a wish to continue living in the tent on the Common. The council has not said how long it though the Fidos brothers had been on the Common.
Monday, 28 December 2009
Taken from the EDP website, story printed on 22nd December 2009.The body of a man who had been sleeping rough in sub-zero temperatures has been found on the outskirts of Thetford. The dead man, who was from Poland and was found in a tent on Barnham Cross Common has been named as 33-year-old Mariusz Fidos. Yesterday team rector of Thetford, Canon Bob Baker and Thetford mayor, Pam Spencer, both spoke on behalf of the town of their sadness over the tragedy. "The people of Thetford are shocked and saddened. We don't know what the circumstances are surrounding this man's death but clearly, if there are lessons to learned, we must learn from them and ensure that this does not happen again," said Canon Baker. Mrs Spencer said: "My thoughts are with the relatives and friends of the deceased at was must be a particularly difficult time." It is understood that Mr Fidos was sharing the tent with his twin brother and a friend, all three being Polish nationals. A fourth man, also believed to be Eastern European, was in a tent on his own by the dead man's tent. The three other men have since been provided with emergency accommodation in Norwich. Mr Fidos was found dead on Sunday. A post-mortem examination carried out later that evening revealed early indications are that he died from hypothermia. The case has now been passed to the coroner. Police said the man's death remains "unexplained" but police said there were no suspicious circumstances. John Walker, of Breckland Council's housing advice and home-lessness service, described Mr Fidos' death as an "appalling tragedy". He said that the authority was not aware that Mr Fidos was sleeping rough on the Common and had not had any direct contact with him. He said Breckland Council was working hard with the police and other agencies in the Thetford area to ensure that everyone was aware when people were sleeping rough and then provide what help they could. Council officials, had, however, been aware in October of three men sleeping rough on Barnham Common. The group were advised of their housing options and also offered assistance to travel to their home countries but they declined such help. "We can't force people to return to their home countries if they do not want to go," said Mr Walker. Thetford town councillor Terry Jermy, whose ward covers the Barnham Common area, said that although housing officers were aware of people sleeping rough on the Common, he did not feel it was a priority to them. He was angry at the situation and suggested that a caravan could have been provided on the town's travel-lers' site which had not yet been used. "At least on that site they could have been free from harm," he said. He is calling for a serious look at the homelessness issue in Thetford. There is a facility for the homeless in Thetford at John Room House but it is currently closed for major refurbishment. Breckland Cabinet member with responsibility for housing, Paul Claussen said the authority took the homelessness issue very seriously and would be working with partner agencies to ensure that such a tragedy did not happen again. Mr Claussen stressed he was not aware of all the details of the case, but Mr Walker and his team did their utmost to find accommodation for people in difficulties. "We do encourage people to be our eyes and ears and let us know when they are aware of people facing difficulties with accommodation," he said
Sunday, 22 November 2009
On Thursday I had a job interview with the Benjamin Foundation, for the post of Project Co-ordinator for an exciting new project in Thetford. I am delighted to have been offered to post, which I will start at the beginning of January. The project, has been funded by the Government (Over £400,000!)and is the only one of its kind in the whole of East Anglia. There were 15 projects in total funded across the UK. It aims to address the fact that many children in Thetford have such low aspirations and leave school at 16 going straight into employment with few remaining in education post-16, and less still going on to University after that. The project will take over the empty Community Centre on Redcastle Estate and turn it into a Youth Cafe, and Community hub for learning, and education. It is very exciting!!! I would welcome anyones ideas and thoughts about what sort of activities could take place to help children while at school (e.g. home-work clubs) and what can be done to get more children staying in education post-16.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Thie piece in today's Eastern Daily Press is wholly unfair. - http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=News&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=NOED17%20Nov%202009%2017%3A54%3A10%3A823 I agree entirely with the comments laid out here by Peter Smith. "I always read the Inside Politics column with interest. For the most part the analysis is both perceptive and balanced. Today's piece, though, is worrying in its assertion that 'Elizabeth Truss will go on to win the seat very comfortably in the general election'. This is, I believe, an assertion based, not on current evidence, but on past outcomes. The selection controversy which engulfed the SW Norfolk conservatives reflected tha anger of local people fed up with being taken for granted, resentful of what they perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a metropolitan elite deciding what was right for country bumpkins. The old certainties about elections and their outcomes have changed dramatically, even since the last general election. The techniques employed so effectively by Obama in the USA are now with us. It is very foolish indeed to assume that because a particular constituency has been one colour for many years, that this will never change. It is equally foolish to assume that national politics will always be reflected in the way people in a particular community will vote. A constituency is made up of many smaller communities and interest groups. I believe that, more than ever before, localism will matter at the next general election. I agree with Terence Blacker when he writes, 'communities are different from one another, whether they are in towns or the country. The local connection that you have to those who live and work in your neighbourhood or region matters more than ever in a changing, impersonal world'. (Independent 18/11/09) I believe my local connection will play a significant part in the coming election. But other factors in SW Norfolk will challenge the cosy, and deeply anti-democratic media-reinforced consensus on the inevitable outcome in SW Norfolk: Major boundary changes, which have seen Attleborough and Watton transfered to Mid-Norfolk and reduced the notional majority to around 6000. Significant demographic changes, including a major influx of population, especially in Thetford and Downham Market. The role that UKIP will play in taking predominantly Tory votes. The strong Labour base. The choice of yet another outsider as Tory candidate. Mr.Fraser's trees. Major questions about the financial behaviour of Breckland District Council. The latest Tory selection rumpus. The electorate may well vote the way that Chris Fisher says they will. But it is a much more competitive contest this time round and I believe strongly that the huge media coverage of the antics of one political party in SW Norfolk, without any attempt by the EDP, or indeed any other newspaper, to engage in a balanced political debate, treats the electorate with contempt and further re-inforces the view that there is no point in voting because the outcome is a foregone conclusion. And that's even before the election campaign, which will, I hope, focus on issues and policies, has even begun in earnest. Yours faithfully" Peter Smith Labour's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, SW Norfolk
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Monday, 9 November 2009
I've just sent the text below to the Editor of the Thetford and Brandon Newspaper. Dear Editor, I would like to give a massive thank-you to the thousands of people from Thetford who turned up on Sunday night to support the first organised fireworks display in this town for many years. It was an absolutely fantastic success. The fireworks were amazing, everyone enjoyed themselves and the people of this town got the chance to come together and meet friends and show what fantastic community spirit this town has. I would like to particularly thank the two main organisers, Larry Gray and Susan Glossop. Without them, this event simply would not have happened. Many people got involved with this event and many donated their time and provided support. I would especially like to thank the small group of peopled who helped me with raising funds for Help for Heroes, they were; Sheron Rourke, Barbara Bysouth, Jaime Smith, Gavin Leach, Fiona Drew, Mark and Sarah Lynam, Roxanne Laws, Robert Waple, Kevin, Gina, Rebecca, Zoe and Jade, Andy Hradsky. A total of £1900 was raised for Help For Heroes. Well done Thetford, you have done us all proud!! Best wishes Terry Jermy Thetford Town Councillor for the Saxon Ward (Photo credits to Bernie O'Connor)
Sunday, 1 November 2009
On a fairly regular basis, I randomly get stopped by people wanting to speak to me as a 'councillor'. Whether it be in the street, at the local Supermarket, walking through the town centre, or wherever. I have no problems talking to people, it is part of the job, even if I am in a rush, I make time to talk and answer questions. I make myself very 'available' - I have no issues giving out my home telephone number, and my mobile number, people can email me, message me on facebook, read and comment on my blog. However, what I really object to, is people being rude. Just because I am a councillor, it seems like some people think they can shout at you, or blame you for whatever it is they have an issue with. I'm a Thetford Town Councillor, I can hardly be held responsible for decisions taken by Norfolk County Council, Breckland Council, the Government, the police. Am I accountable for decisions taken by Thetford Town Council? to an extent yes, but not entirely. People often don't think to ask your views about something before wading in and giving you their two-penneth worth and 'holding you accountable' - which is often not the case, its 'let's have a pop at a councillor' moment. Yesterday, at 11.30am (on a Saturday), a guy stopped me in the street and was literally shouting at me and was very aggressive. It was something part work related, and something part town council related. For starters, I think it is very sad if someone feels it is Ok to talk to a fellow human being in that way, it is totally unncessary. But worse, I was working on a session for work with young people, and I am sure they would have been scared by this guy. On another occasion, at 12.30 at night, I was walking out of the front door of a friends when a half drunk guy walking along spotted me and started shouting about something council related. I've learnt to be very clear with people, I will talk as much as they want, I will not shy away from a discussion or a debate, but under no circumstances, will I allow someone to be rude to me.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Apparently we are erecting an oak obelisk! Burrell memorial obelisk plan approved 09 September 2009 A three sided oak obelisk dedicated to Thetford steam engine builder Charles Burrell will provide the centre piece for a new community garden in the town. Planning permission for the sculpture, which has already been commissioned and will be paid for using lottery money, was granted by Breckland Council's Development Control Committee. When finished the 1.8m memorial will sit in the new Charles Burrell Garden on land next to 54 Staniforth Road. The derelict site, which is near to the Charles Burrell High School, is currently being transformed into a community garden by the Keystone Development Trust. When finished it is hoped it will provide a tranquil place for townsfolk to go and be a haven for wildlife. Along with the famous author Thomas Paine, and Britain's first black mayor, Dr Allan Glaisyer Minns, Charles Burrell is one of Thetford's most prominent historical figures. From 1740 to 1930 Burrell and Sons produced custom made steam engines and at one point the company was Thetford's largest employer with an international reputation for manufacturing traction engines and road locomotives. Charles Burrell was also a Thetford town councillor for 55 consecutive years and held the office of town mayor on seven separate occasions.
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Saturday, 15 August 2009
Dentists get £3m cash injection 14 August 2009 By Lindsey Newton More people in Thetford will be able to access an NHS dentist thanks to a cash injection of £3 million for dentistry across the county. Currently, there is only one NHS dental surgery in the town, serving more than 15,000 patients, and the funding means up to 4,500 more patients per year will be able to see an NHS dentist in Thetford from early 2010. The news, which was announced by NHS Norfolk last week, has been welcomed by health bosses and residents and a tendering process for additional dental services in Thetford has been launched. Ann Piper, 68, of Elm Road, said: "This is brilliant news as there is a real shortage of NHS dental services in the town and many people have to travel to Brandon or Bury St Edmunds to see a dentist. "Private treatment is very expensive, and many people who have paid their taxes for years are not getting the treatment they deserve, so it's good to see that Thetford will benefit from more NHS dental services." William Simper, 61, of Durham Way, said: "This extra money is a really good thing for Thetford, especially as there is only one NHS dentist in the town. "There should definitely be better access to services, especially as the NHS is funded through public money, so hopefully this will go some way to improving the situation." The extra money will be spent on improving dental services by increasing access to NHS dentists, providing more orthodontic services and improving dentistry provision in elderly care homes. Fiona Reynolds, NHS Norfolk's assistant director for primary care, said: "This additional investment will go a long way to helping us to further improve the NHS dental services in our area. "While we have already made significant investments and improvements in recent years and months, having extra money in the budget means we can do even more. "This is part of NHS Norfolk's on-going commitment to improve services in the Thetford area and we will continue to evaluate the need
Community radio planned for Thetford 13 August 2009 PLANS for a youth drop-in centre and a community radio station were unveiled last week as part of a £400,000 project to help raise the aspirations of young people in Thetford. North Norfolk charity The Benjamin Foundation is set to expand its reach after successfully getting a share of a government 'inspiring communities' fund. The organisation, which provides a range of services for young people, will team up with the Thetford Education Partnership to try and improve the ambitions of the town's youth. The Benjamin Foundation received £400,000 from a £10m pot of money from the Department for Communities and Local Government to help encourage youngsters in deprived areas to “think big.” A drop-in youth centre and café, a training base, a community horticulture scheme, and a youth community radio station are being proposed in Thetford over the next two years. Sharon Matthews, operational manager at The Benjamin Foundation said Thetford was the only place in Norfolk to benefit from an Inspiring Communities partnership. She added that the long-term goal was to establish self sustaining social enterprises run by the town's young people. “This funding represents a wonderful opportunity for the young people in Thetford. The Benjamin Foundation is incredibly excited about being able to meet and work with people in these vibrant communities. We look forward to forging some long lasting partnerships with both individuals and groups living and working in the area,” she said. The charity is set to work with local schools, Fulmerston Family and Community Project, Keystone Development Trust, Connexions Norfolk, Moving Thetford Forward, and Norfolk County Council Children's Services. Christine Davies, manager of the Thetford Education Partnership, added: “We are thrilled and very excited at the prospect of what this grant will bring to the community. We know that in Thetford there is already a great deal of positive activity and that our young people, their families and the wider community have a great deal to offer. This grant gives us the opportunity to build on what is already here.”
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Everything seems to be moving at a very slow pace at the moment. Not a lot happens in the political and community work world in August. Although there is some news to note; I got into hot water for my recent criticisms of different agencies regarding Redcastle Community Centre. I was quoted in the press articles at saying Peddars Way Housing Association had under-invested in West Thetford. This is not the case, and they took exception to my comments, but are hopefully now aware that they were not my views anyway. Some fairly major news - a funding bid which I supported and assisted with has been approved, £400,000! I will post the press article seperately but it is a major piece of good news for the Saxon and Abbey Wards. We had an interesting Town Council planning committee meeting last night, 12th August. Approximately 20 residents turned up to complain about an application to fill-in and build over a rather nice pond area along Nightingale Way. I had already been alerted that this was being proposed so I was aware of the implications so put my points across at the meeting. We cannot keep allowing developers to cram in housing into every nook and cranny in this town, particularly building on attractive green areas, when so many brown-field, disused eyesores, and unused buildings remain in this town. The planning application for the Charles Burrell sculpture also came up for discussion last night and thankfully, my fellow town councillors rather liked it so I gather.
Friday, 31 July 2009
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Thetford and Brandon Newspaper, Wednesday 29th July 2009 - Page 3. Here's the link to the story; http://www.thetfordandbrandontimes.co.uk/content/tbtimes/news/story.aspx?brand=TBOnline&category=news&tBrand=TBonline&tCategory=news&itemid=NOED31%20Jul%202009%2009%3A49%3A56%3A540
Saturday, 25 July 2009
At this weeks planning committee meeting of the Town Council, the matter of the London Road bridge came up for discussion. I took the opportunity to comment on the fact that very few people in the town knew that the bridge was going to be removed. As a councillor, I get to hear about all sorts of things planned to happen - e.g. planning application proposals, and generally I am kept informed about matters of interest in the town. As a community worker, my instincts are to involve, engage and inform people. But yet with my town council hat, I have no capacity or resouces to share this information with the wider public and it is thoroughly frustrating. This blog is one avenue I use to share information, the other main one is facebook - I find it incredibly useful for informing people about matters which may be of interest or canvassing views on a given subject. For example, I think around 20 people used it to contact me initially asking what was happening with the bridge, and then to pass comment on what they thought of the idea. At the meeting on Wednesday, I explained that councils - County, District and Town and other agencies, such as the police, needed to put more effort into involving communities, and using a variety of methods to do so. Otherwise, can we really wonder why apathy rules in so many quarters? I would welcome any views from readers on methods of sharing information.
Saturday, 18 July 2009
When I stood for the Town Council by-election in July 2008, I listed three priorities on my main election leaflet. One of which was to campaign for more facilities and activities for children and young people in this town. We have a higher percentage of children under the age of 16 than any other place in Norfolk. 25% of Thetford is under 16, the national average is 17%. Imagine my horror therefore when I read the latest edition of Breckland Voice (the propaganda newspaper produced by Breckland Council, affectionately known as the 'bin-rag' by some, and worse names by others). I digress. Breckland Voice detailed two pages of activities for children taking place across the district, all free! great! Errrm. No. Not a single one taking place in Thetford. (Although, not many in Dereham either to be fair). I contacted Breckland Council and asked why. Because deadlines were missed. OK. What is happening? Activities at the Sports Centre provided by Parkwood? Hold on, Parkwood are a private company, they are charging for all their activities, one was £18 per child per day! Can parents across the Saxon Ward, and Thetford afford that? No. Furthermore, they are a sports centre, activities are sports related. Not all kids like sport. The activities detailed in 'Voice' were a mix, including arts and crafts related. So the bottom line is, it is not like for like. Once again, Thetford is being missed out. Don't children and young people in Thetford deserve something to do over the summer holidays? It would be worth mentioning Norfolk Youth Service at this point, part of Norfolk County Council, whom it would appear are also inadequately serving the needs of young people in this town. I contacted the Bury Free Press and shared my frustrations. They picked up on the story, and initially wanted a photograph of me to accompany the story, I suggested they speak to the parents who had contacted me initially asking about activities for children and hence the above lovely photo of bored children, has ended up on this weeks front page. Providing more activities for children and young people is of paramount important in this town and I will continue to do whatever I can to chip away at the issue. Here is the link to the story; http://www.buryfreepress.co.uk/thetford/Nowhere-to-go.5468253.jp UPDATE: From a parent who contacted me about the lack of childrens activities who's child I invited to be in the photo for the newspaper: "I couldn't believe it when I saw it, I went to buy it and noticed they got front page! I was really pleased because people will have to pay attention now :) if it gets the message through then its all worth it because our children are the future an they will determine what happens next; if Thetford is going to be a respectable place with many opportunites or whether it will be known for crime and anti social behaviour !! thanx mate for giving me the opportunity to play a part in what happens to my childs future :) xx
On Monday, we had an anti-social behaviour and crime related roadshow at the front of Pine Close shops. The idea being to encourage more people from the community to report crime and asb that occurs to ensure the figures represent the reality of what goes on in the area. A good number of people went along to it, could have been more, but the opportunity was there. Change does not happen overnight but you have to chip away at it. Click here to view our latest Barnham Action Group newsletter which was delivered around the estate prior to the event; http://www.terryjermy.btik.com/documents/2624576209.ikml
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Last week I attended the 'What we are proud of awards' organised by the National Housing Federation. The Abbey Estate, and Abbey Neighbourhood Centre had been nominated in recognition for the huge amount of work that has taken place to improve the community, and for the way which the estate has changed over the years. We work closely with Peddars Way and other agencies on the Abbey Estate. I went with four volunteers from the Abbey community, and the PCSO for the Estate - Gavin Tampin. We were all delighted to have been shortlisted in the top 3 out of the 24 projects submitted. We had to give a 15 minute presentation outlining 'what we are proud of' and focus on what examples of partnership work had taken place and how the project helps housing association tenants. All of us attending gave short speeches as part of our presentation, followed by a brief video of some of the activities taking place. Giving a speech in front of so many people is no easy undertaking, luckily I have a little bit of experience of it now, but I was still very nervous, but those not used to doing it were very brave, and did a fantastic job and were clearly determined to make sure they got their good news story across. Despite the other two projects being of a very high standard, I am delighted to say that our project won, and will now represent the whole Eastern Region at the national awards ceremony in London. The victory was even more poignant given that the winner was chosen by votes cast from those attending on the evening, including attendees for the other projects. Here is the text from my speech on the night: Good evening, my name is Terry Jermy and I am a Community Worker with Keystone Development Trust and Manager of the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre. A community workers’ role is to work with, engage and empower local residents to address issues themselves and work together to improve their community. Therefore, you need a community, to have a community worker. And ultimately, the reason why the Abbey Estate has improved is not because of the money spent on it, or the greater attention from whichever agency, it is because the community, the people that live there, have wanted it to improve, and improve it has. The community centre now boasts a fantastic community café, open from Tuesday – Saturday, it really has become the hub for the community, the café is providing employment for people from the local area, and is providing training and support to a whole number of volunteers. We have a weekly youth group on a Tuesday, providing an activity for 5-9 years and then 10-15 years, over 60 children walk through the door every Tuesday for this. We have at least 6 volunteers assisting this project and all are completing child protection and first aid courses, and will soon complete basic youth work training, this will hopefully get them a foot in the door to paid youth work. We have two weekly bingo sessions, Wednesday afternoons and Thursday evenings. This is greatly appreciated by the older members of our community – for some it is the only thing they do each week. We’ve just launched weekly senior citizen lunches on Fridays, a home-cooked meal such as shepeherds pie, for just £2.50 per person. We also have a table tennis club on a Monday night for those aged 16-24 years and this is helping us to develop links with this age group, many of which have a chequered past having been in prison and experienced drug and alcohol misuse. Hopefully through something as simple as table tennis, we can start to help improve the lives of these young people as well. It is truly a community centre for the whole community, and I think symbolizes that this community has improved. For me, the most striking thing about the people you see here tonight, and others involved with activities in this community, is their commitment and dedication through adversity. They all have a whole variety of issues going on in their own lives, they could easily let these issues consume them, and have resentment against society, but they do not, they all muck in, do their bit, and through it, support each other, and are stronger for it. Brenda touched upon an issue sensitive to her just now, and many of the people involved with activities at the Abbey have their own personal situations which they strive to overcome. But they don’t let that prevent them from doing their bit in their community, and I like to think in return, they support each other, and I like to think that their community supports them. So to summarise, We know our community has improved, the people on the Abbey Estate know their community has improved, YOU here, have the power this evening, to help us send a message to everyone else that this community has improved. Vote for the Abbey.Here's the link to an article about it in the Bury Free Press; http://www.buryfreepress.co.uk/thetford/Neighbourhood-centre-wins-community-award.5445820.jp
Sunday, 5 July 2009
Monday, 29 June 2009
I found the last statistic given in this article on the EDP website very interesting. "On the outskirts of Norwich, 82pc of people under Breckland Council, were happy with their area as a place to live; half were satisfied with the way the council runs things; 42pc felt the council provided value for money and less than a quarter, 24pc felt they could influence the way things were run". Indeed, I think we have a democratic defecit in Breckland.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Sunday, 21 June 2009
My new role at Keystone is supporting voluntary and community groups in the Keystone area, called K.A.V.O - Keystone Area Voluntary Organisations. It provides advice to groups, help with funding applications, training services, networking opportunities etc. Click the link above to download and complete the KAVO Membership Form if you are put of a group and would like to join.
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Here is a picture from what I think is probably one of my favourite projects at the moment. Last year, a funding application submitted to the Football Foundation was approved and the Thetford Community Association was awarded £8,000 plus £2,000 from Norfolk Community Foundation to run football coaching sessions at the Ballpark on the Redcastle Estate for two years. We launched the project in March of this year, having first recruited three coaches - all of which live local. We worked through risk assessments, produced session registers, membership forms and we registered as an 'employer' for payroll and everything that goes with that. The sessions now take place every Tuesday and Thursday. There are regularly 25-30 youngsters aged 10-15 years attending - mainly boys. Tonight, there were 36 youngsters - too many in fact! This project has been achieved by a committee of about 5 people, absolutely amazing. Credit also to the three coaches, who are working hard to make this project a success. £10,000 for this project is peanuts in the world of funding, but look how far it can go - 180 sessions, 25-30 youngsters engaged for 2 hours at every session, new skills taught, addressing behaviour, providing suitable role models, improving confidence and self esteem, encouraging healthier lifestyles etc etc etc, this sort of activity is not rocket science, it should be happening all the time in a community like Thetford where 25% of the population is under 16. Let's hope for more successes in the future
Saturday, 13 June 2009
Monday, 8 June 2009
Well, I was unsuccesful in my attempt to become the next Norfolk County Councillor for Thetford-West. Initially I was very disappointed, it is afterall something I have put a lot of time and effort into for a long while, but then given the national situation, and loss of 19 Labour seats in Norfolk, in hindsight it was rather inevitable! I may sound very anti-Conservative when I say this, but I was delighted that the seat was at least won by the Liberal Democrats. I do not think councils work well when they are hugely controlled by one political party, there is no room for debate or discussion, refining policy or ideas, just look at Breckland Council - 48 Tories out of 54 councillors. And now, Norfolk has 60 tories out of 84 councillors. However, I polled a respectable 706 votes on a turnout of 28% - I suspect out of the 72% of people that didn't vote there would be a large number of labour voters there sitting on their hands refusing to go and support the Government, and numerous voters around my age (18-30) who are just oblivious to the democratic process. I lost count in this campaign how many people I had to sit down and explain how to vote, i.e. simply how to walk into a polling station, what to do etc. As with the by-election last year, and again this year, I am very pleased to have managed to motivate people to vote who do not normally, or have never voted! I think at least 30 people voted for me last Thursday who rarely, or more realistically, never vote. I was pleased that I seemed to do far better on the Saxon Ward half of the Thetford-West seat. I assume anyway, can't know for sure. But the Labour vote was particularly poor for the Abbey Ward by-election, just 256 votes, so if people voted the same for the county election, it meant I got roughly 450 votes for the Saxon Ward half of Thetford-West and 256 on the Abbey half (Mike Brindle, Lib Dem, also won that seat so is now on the Town Council and Norfolk Council all in one go!). I live to fight another day, I'm still on Thetford Town Council, I am still employed as a community worker in Thetford, and I am as determined as ever to work to improve Thetford, and this will probably mean standing in future elections! It goes without saying, but I wish the two new Thetford County Councillors all the best, and our two new town councillors! Interesting times ahead :) All results here - http://www.breckland.gov.uk/news_declaration_of_poll_county_elections
Sunday, 31 May 2009
About the competition: You need to submit two photographs about where you live, one photograph should show what you like most about where you live, and the other about what you like least about where you live. Each photograph should also have a small amount of text explaining why you have chosen each picture. Competition for young people aged 5 - 11 years and 11 - 18 years. How to submit your photograph: You can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can post them to; Photography Competition, Keystone Development Trust, The Limes, 32 Bridge Street, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 3AG Deadline for all entries; Wednesday 10th June 2009 For more information, contact 01842 821643
Friday, 29 May 2009
I've been spending a lot of time out and about recently, mainly due to the need to deliver literally thousands of leaflets - (trust me to be standing in the second biggest seat out of all 84 in Norfolk!) Although, ever the optimist, it is really good exercise, it gets me out and about in the fresh air and sunshine and I can speak to people as I'm going around. Plus, I pick up lots of things to report to either Breckland Council or Peddars Way, never any shortage of this, as these two latest photos demonstrate - both now sent off to Breckland. Furthermore, have just finished working my way through the 11 voicemails on my landline, mainly from residents, oh joy. Some happy customers, some very rude - politics really isn't for the faint hearted.
Thursday, 21 May 2009
At the Town Council planning committee meeting last night (Weds 20th May 2009), we discussed an item put forward by a representative of the Thetford Society concerning the Abbey Barns. Planning permission has now been granted again by Breckland Council - controversially, and people are being encouraged to write to the Secretary of State to 'call in' the matter and decide if it should be upheld. You would therefore expect that Thetford Town Council would of course add its weight to the campaign and exercise its duty to provide a voice for the town. It did not. They voted to send no letter, or undertake any lobbying of any kind, merely to 'support' the Thetford Society's efforts, what form that 'support' might take was unclear. Some councillors actually thought this was indeed the wishes of the town as the majority of people did not care about the Barns. Whereas, a great many people have spoken to me about them - as a councillor, and as part of the 'West Thetford consultation' which I am working on as part of my Keystone role. Surely our council is there to lead and fight for what is right with gusto and determination. Not sit mealy mouthed mumbling theirselves into insignificance. NOTE: I've attached an example letter which can be sent to the Secretary of State should anyone so wish.
Sunday, 17 May 2009
On Saturday I attended the Norfolk Homewatch event at County Hall. I had been invited to be a member of the 'question time' panel representing 'youth'. Not an enviable task at a 'homewatch' meeting given that I am sure most people there had issue with 'youth' for one reason or another. The main two questions I answered were about how to get more young people involved in Homewatch and their community. The main jist of my answer was that new technologies; i.e. blogs, facebook etc should be utilised far more then they are now - improving accessibility and the other question was around addressing the issue of youth nuisance / anti-social behaviour, so I reminded the audience that Norfolk has one of the lowest funded youth services in the country and much of what takes places is very piece-meal and short-term, and therefore community & youth workers have little time to establish relationships with the youth people and address some of the issues which exist. All in all I rather enjoyed the event and it was good to give a 'younger person' an opportunity to be on the panel.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Last night was the annual Mayor Making ceremony for Thetford Town Council. Every time I mentioned the title to someone that I was going to this, I needed to explain what exactly was 'Mayor Making' - what a pity that so few people in our town are aware of the customs and traditions of the town council. I get the feeling that some people view me as some kind of 'revolutionary' with no respect for such things as customs and traditions, maybe its because of my age, but actually this could not be further from the truth. I am very proud of Thetford, and I do respect the role of the council and its customs (although of course, none of them are properly explained or discussed with new councillors). I may sometimes get frustrated when customs and traditions stand in the way of progress, but on the whole, I would consider myself respectful of such things. It was my first Mayor Making ceremony as a councillor and I must confess to being exceptionally nervous! Our new Mayor, is Pam Spencer who I am sure was also very nervous, but did a great job last night and I wish her well for her year ahead.
Monday, 11 May 2009
The photos below are of St Mary The Less Church on Bury Road, Thetford. It is the oldest church in Thetford and as you can see from the photos, it is in a very bad state. Like so many other buildings around Thetford, The Mary The Less is owned by a private property developer - (if you could say developer?). The owner bought the building from the church, has done virtually nothing to it, applied and obtained planning permission to convert it into a house and attempted to sell it at a far greater price than what it was originally purchased for. Easy hey? Well no, because nobody has bought it, and several years and neglect are really now showing, particularly the gaping hole in the roof which must surely be affecting and weakening the whole building considerably. As ever, our local district council seems entirely ineffectual at forcing the landlord to do anything in regards to protecting this building, despite its Grade I listed status. The planning permission has now lapsed, and I cannot imagine that if it was obtained, there would be anymore demand for it as a house then there was previously, particularly given the economic climate. Maybe the price will continue to drop and some other well intentioned organisation, or person, could purchase it, and make the improvements it so desperately need. What a fantastic beacon for Thetford this could be with enough thought and investment. Update: St Mary the Less is a grade II - not a Grade I.
Monday, 4 May 2009
Saturday, 2 May 2009
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
I am delighted that our community garden idea at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre was launched this week. The idea of the project is to link with the very popular youth group which takes place on a Tuesday night, attended by approximately 60 kids and get them involved in growing and caring for their own plants and vegetables. ANCHOR (Abbey Neighbourhood Centre Helping Our Residents) obtained funding from O2 (£1,000) and Keystone / Breckland Green Grants (£750) and on Tuesday the project was launched with a cheque presentation from O2. Full credit to the fantastic Youth Club team for all their efforts as usual. Fingers crossed for some more good news in the near future. And it made front page of this weeks Thetford and Brandon too!!
Sunday, 26 April 2009
The question I raised at the meeting the other night regarding Redcastle Community Centre has made it into this weeks Bury Free Press, not that they acknowledged how they came to know about this, i.e. because I raised the point! - see here - http://www.buryfreepress.co.uk/thetford/Community-centre-at-threat-of.5200076.jp Let's hope however that this extra publicity will support the community centre. There is a Redcastle residents meeting at 6pm on Monday 27th April which I will be attending.
Thursday, 23 April 2009
On Tuesday evening, I attended the 'Thetford Neighbourhood Forum' which is basically an opportunity for Thetford to keep the pressure on Breckland Council to actually deliver a reasonable level of service in this town - this was the third meeting, with the first being initiated by the Thetford Society and then the event became consumed and stage-managed directly by the Council. I found the 'you said, we did' presentation particularly interesting for a variety of reasons. Anyway, I too the opportunity to ask two questions, 1) Would Breckland Council commit to keeping the Redcastle Community Centre open for community use when the lease expires at the end of July as at present - the centre will be closed from August and will be a great loss to this community and 2) Would the Council support groups such as the Thetford Ballpark whom, like so many other organisations and facilities in this town and so greatly under-supported and constantly at risk. These were the only questions asked, out of approximately 30 questions, to prompt the Leader of Breckland Council - William Nunn, to jump up and answer, rather than the Chief Executive Trevor Holden (more about the questionner rather than the questions??) A fairly wishy washy answer to both parts resulted, but nethertheless, I did raise the point and hopefully some good may come of it. The main bone of contention on the evening, as expected, was the Abbey Barns. A day earlier Breckland Council's Development Control Committee had controversially agreed to grant planning permission to turn this historically significant site into housing. The state of St Mary the Less Church on Bury Road was also discussed. We have serious issues in Thetford with buildings, some historically significant (E.g. Abbey Barns and St Mary the Less), others just visually significant (E.g. Pine Close shops) just being left to rot, and sit as a severe risk to the health and safety of the community. Breckland Council has a statutory obligation to ensure the protection of these buildings and safeguard them. They fail miserably in this respect. Breckland Council claimed at the meeting to be doing all they can to force landlords to protect buildings, this is simply not the case. I reminded the Chief Executive that if a local authority was to serve an 'Enforcement Notice' on a landlord, demanding work is carried out, if such a notice was ignored, other authorities would undertake this work, and then promptly issue the landlord with the bill for it, with failure to repay resulting in court action. This is a power available to Breckland which it does not utilise. Breckland has no budget for 'works in default' and as I stated on Tuesday; "it will not be enforcement ACTION if there are no teeth, behind the words".
Sunday, 19 April 2009
'Vandals are creating a ghost town' By Lindsey Newton The centre of Thetford's Barnham Cross estate has been branded a ghost town and eyesore after becoming a target for vandals. Now residents are calling for something to be done about the smashed windows, graffiti and dumped rubbish. Flats above shops in Pine Close have been empty for 18 months and, despite the owners spending thousands of pounds securing the site, anti-social behaviour continues and residents want the area to be regenerated. Shaun Pickering Merrett, of Pine Close, said: "It's a real state and something should be done to clear it up. "It would be great to see some of the shops reopened, as it looks awful with all the shutters down." Other residents said the area was 'an eyesore' and looked like a 'ghost town' because of the empty shops. Terry Jermy, Keystone Development Trust community worker for Barnham Cross, said: "The flats are a real mess and something should be done, rather than leaving them to rot. "A recent tour involving local agencies took place where residents expressed concern at the area being such an eyesore." The Barnham Cross Action Group and other agencies had managed to get funding to secure the site, but the gates had been broken, added Mr Jermy. "There is a lot of good work going on in the area but this damage is really dragging down the community," he said. The landlord responsible for the affected flats and shop units did not want to be named but said: "It's a real problem but there is nothing we can do about it. "I look after the properties for the owner, who wants to get them up and running again, but they keep being vandalised and it is so expensive to keep repairing – I've spent between £20,000 and £30,000 on them." A Breckland Council spokeswoman said: "Two of the flats have been boarded up and we are in discussions with the owner, while another two are being refurbished and are nearly completed. "We are aware of the flytipping problems and we have spoken to the owner about the bins, while a lot of time has been spent at Pine Close by our environmental services team." Rachael Ashley, a Thetford PCSO, said: "We are consulting with the shop owners on a daily basis. They are working with us to help to identify the individuals responsible for this spate of criminal damage. "The neighbourhood policing team is conducting extra high visibility reassurance patrols in the area and is encouraging anyone who has any information about the vandalism to contact the police."
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Friday, 3 April 2009
The signs are good on estate By Lindsey Newton Walking to school is now much safer for pupils living on Thetford's Barnham Cross estate, thanks to a new road safety scheme. Pupils from Queensway Junior School took part in a competition to design road signs to display alongside those warning of a 20mph zone which has just been introduced. The project, which has been welcomed by parents, pupils and residents,was made possible by a collaboration between Barnham Cross Action Group, Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Police, Keystone Development Trust, Sure Start Children's Centre, Queensway infant and junior schools and Charles Burrell Humanities School. Charlie Wilson, eight, who had two of her drawings turned into road signs, said: "It's really important to get drivers to slow down to make it safer for us going to school. "I drew a school with children coming out to make people think about their driving and I thought the competition was really fun, because it's great looking at my pictures on road signs." Katie Stevens, eight, Georgina Baldwin, nine, Jiorjia Flint, nine, and Rebecca Grimmond, 10, have also had their drawings turned into road signs. Tim Lovejoy, chairman of Barnham Cross Action Group, said: "The school's previous headteacher, Ralph Headley, set the ball rolling by getting all the various groups together and getting funding together through the school travel plan. "It has been a great project to work on, as it has brought everyone together for a worthwhile cause." The full article contains 241 words and appears in BFP Thetford newspaper.
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Saturday, 21 March 2009
Been a very busy few weeks with all sorts going on. Saturday 28th February; Worked on the Charles Burrell Garden & Sculpture project, took the group of children involved to Didlington Nursery to purchase some plants and then we all planted them into the garden which is coming along well. Monday 2nd March; Met with Elspeth Barnes, from the Matthew Project which seeks to tackle drug and alcohol issues in Thetford. In the evening it was our first session of the new Abbey Table Tennis Club for 16 - 24 year olds, went well for a first session. Tuesday 3rd; Youth club from 4pm - 6pm then had to leave before the second session really got going as I attended the Moving Thetford Forward meeting in the Carnegie Rooms, mixed views on this! I will post my whole letter as part of the consultation seperately. Wednesday 4th; Met with Sadie and Abi to talk about 'Transitions' a possible new Keystone project looking at supporting people during the recesssion and addressing life problems, a much needed project! Then around mid-day, I was interviewed by BBC Politics on Migrant Workers in Thetford and how this affects the local community, I was rather nervous! In the evening I met with Dennis and Colin to progress with the Thetford Labour Party Spring Newsletter Thursday 5th; In the morning I met with Tim Lovejoy to progress with Barnham Cross Community Worker and then in the evening it was the monthly Thetford Labour Party meeting. Bit of a special one tonight, selections for Norfolk County Council candidates!! Will blog seperately about that. Friday 6th; Met again with Tim, and Elsie Coleman the Barnham residents group Treasurer to review the groups finances and plan ahead. At 2.15pm it was the monthly ANCHOR meeting which went well. Spent the evening with Dave H looking at my Go Further website and sorting out the bloody wireless internet which has been a pain to get set-up, sorted it in the end!! Saturday 7th; Another gardening session at Staniforth Road Monday 9th; Annual leave from work, hurrahhh!!! Just as well, was feeling awful, so did not get to make the Abbey Residents meeting at 6pm or the Croxton Road meeting at 7.30pm Tuesday 10th; Felt awful still, spent most of the day in bed, dragged myself to the Barnham Action Group meeting for 6.30pm, lots of residents present tonight which was very encouraging. After this, at 8.30pm, had another Labour Party meeting, finished about 10pm, no wonder I'm feeling exhausted!! Thursday 12th; Tour of Pine Close shops as part of STAG, will post seperately on this as well! what a total an utter disgrace this whole matter is. Monthly Safer Thetford Action Group meeting at 10am and then after this, the Fireworks committee met at 12pm. Due to lack of funds forthcoming, it was agreed to postpone the fireworks event until 2010. To be fair, not a great deal of effort went into a 2009 date and raising funds, but all round, a 2010 is best so I did not fight this. Friday 13th; Annual leave again, rested!! Monday 16th; Barnham Cross Regeneration group meeting at 10am, was interesting, and then a Thetford Community Association meeting at 6pm with Paul Dives and Dean Roberts progressing with the risk assessments for the new football coaching project, all very exciting. Tuesday 17th; Had a trip for my business to London, took 24 to see Oliver and Joseph. Went very well. Few issues with the coach so will be meeting the coach company seperately, but encouraging trip with good feedback. Got home at 12.30am! Wednesday 18th; Had the morning booked off for a lay-in, then went in around lunch-time and progressed with some work. Town Council planning committee in the evening, Moving Thetford Forward on the agenda, got the impression only a handful of us actually wanted to spend any time talking bout the plans for Thetford... not sure why, I would have thought it was a fairly important matter. Thursday 19th; Progressed with Barnham Cross work at Fulmerston, attended Thursday night bingo at the Abbey PM. Saturday 21st; Had a SW Norfolk Labour Party meeting at 11am at the Sports and Social Club, then went out as a group delivering the Thetford Party Spring Newsletter, managed to cover most of Cloverfields Estate today so good going, lots more areas to get done.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Breckland councillor storms out in free speech row 12 March 2009 15:58 An angry councillor stormed out of a meeting at Breckland Council this morning branding the authority a “disgrace to democracy”. While members of the full cabinet were approving minutes of previous meetings Keith Gilbert wanted to reignite a debate about contracting out planning and building control services which had been discussed at the cabinet meeting on February 24. He felt there had not been enough consultation on the subject and that it had not been open. But chairman John Labouchere told him that if he had “nothing new or pertinent” to say then there was not enough time to go over the subject again considering they had already given it a two hour debate at cabinet. William Nunn added: “Most of the points you are raising were raised at cabinet and we would not look to raise them again here.” Mr Gilbert walked out of the chamber saying that Mr Labouchere had refused him free speech. “I want it noted that the council has refused a debate and is therefore a disgrace to democracy,” he said. After the meeting Mr Gilbert told the EDP that it was his job as an opposition member to offer constructive criticism but he felt that anyone with negative comments was being gagged. “I have spoken to several members who are very much against this idea of giving a private company a say in planning issues which is a core service that Breckland Council should provide. “The way the council is working makes my position worthless and I feel like full council meetings are now just a self-congratulatory rubber stamp. I just could not stay in that meeting after being told I could not say what I wanted to say.”
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Call for return of town's fireworks Published Date: 13 February 2009 By Lindsey Newton Fireworks could once again light up the skies over Thetford as a town councillor heads up a campaign to bring the once annual event back to the town. Cllr Terry Jermy, who is one of Thetford's youngest councillors, is calling on the town council to hold a bonfire event to give something back to the town's residents – and he wants local people to register their interest online. Cllr Jermy said: "Many years ago, there was an organised event in this town which was very popular. However, this finished and, for a long while, Thetford has been without a bonfire and fireworks display. "A town-run event would mean residents wouldn't be disturbed for weeks on end, it would be safer than home firework displays and it would bring the town together." Cllr Jermy has set up a group on Facebook, the social networking website, entitled The Bonfire and Firework Event in Thetford 2009 and has more than 250 members, many of whom have posted messages of support. Alison Arnold said 'Great idea Terry! I used to love the huge bonfire that was built on Melford Common when I was a kid' and Kaye Bloomfield said 'I think it's about time Thetford did this again, the last one I can remember in Thetford was at the high school and that was some years ago'. Liz Staight wrote: "I think we should definitely have one in Thetford again, we always have to travel to the surrounding villages for fireworks and if somewhere as small as Barnham can put on an excellent display, then why cant we? "It's good to know that someone is trying to cut through the red tape and give something back to the people of Thetford." The event is also supported by Thetford police and fire service. The idea was first addressed by Cllr Jermy at November's town council meeting, where some councillors objected on the grounds of cost, disturbance to local residents and lack of demand. Cllr Derek Mortimer said: "My personal view is that it would be money going up in smoke. "The event would cost a lot of money, then there's insurance, health and safety assessments, crowd control and a suitable location would need to be found. "I haven't heard a great deal in favour of it and I think there are much worthier causes which could benefit from that sort of money." If you would like to register your support for the event, become a member of the group at www.facebook.com or email email@example.com
Monday, 9 February 2009
In November 2008, I requested an agenda item for the Full Town Council meeting at the end of that month. For weeks leading up to Bonfire Night in November, many local residents asked me why there was no organised display in Thetford and to be honest, there was no answer that could be given. I therefore proposed at the November meeting that Thetford Town Council should take the lead on organising such an event in 2009. The reason being that other towns and small villages organise their own displays for their residents so why could Thetford not have a display? Also, much work has taken place over many years primarily by the Fire and Police Services locally tackling illegal and dangerous bonfires and fireworks. Without an organised event, it is difficult for these organisations to address this issue. Many members of the Town Council supported the concept of having a display but were sceptical of the practicalities, cost, noise, location etc. The Town Manager - Susan Glossop, was asked to produce a report looking at the options available which she did, and this was presented to full council at the end of January. The report indicated a lot of support from agencies and residents groups around the town and Serjeant Steve Burke from Thetford Police was at the meeting to confirm their support. Some councillors still had issues with the project and were reluctant to 'underwrite' the cost and wanted other groups/organisations locally to financially commit to the project. The Town Council have no money available this year as it is heavily supporting the Thomas Paine events. The council agreed to defer making a decision on the idea until more information was gathered. In the meantime, to address the question posed by some councillors that there may not be support for this idea amongst people in the town, I decided to set-up a group on Facebook to see how many people from Thetford would join to show their support. Amazingly, over 350 have joined in just 48 hours!!! I am not sure what my fellow Town Councillors will make of this but I am greatly encouraged by this and firmly believe that involving the people of this town is vitally important for all organisations and all community projects. The next few weeks will be interesting!
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Monday, 26 January 2009
Well as you can see by the picture uploads, it has been a busy week! Last Tuesday (20th Jan) I attended the Obama Inauguration event in Cambridge hosted by Richard Howitt MEP and attended by Jon Prescott MP. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event, attended by myself an 10 other people from Thetford, and literally hundreds of Labour Party people from across East Anglia! who would have thought it... hundreds of Labour Party people in East Anglia! Whatever next! Then on Friday, we had the annual Thetford Labour Party Social Event, attended by more people this year then any other year I can remember. Feedback was great, people loved the food and the venue! Which was great considering branch members requested it was held at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre (where I am now Centre Manager) and I was pleased they liked our humble little centre. Richard Howitt attended, and as someone commented on the night, we certainly get out fair share of Richard's time given the vast geographically area he covers. I managed to talk to him for quite a while as I sat next to him on the top table - oooooooo get me! On Saturday, I went to County Hall in Norwich for a meeting of the Norfolk Labour Group and planning for the 2009 County Council elections! - which no-body still knows if they are happening or not! Then today, I worked all day on various bitsand pieces, and this evening attended a meeting of the Recastle Action Group, was designed to rejuvenate the group and actually went very well. It has always been the estate that misses out because local people have not wanted to come forward and volunteer and take part, hopefully that will change, tonight was certainly encouraging......
Saturday, 24 January 2009
On Friday, we had the annual Thetford Labour Party Christmas/New Year Social event which I organise each year. It is normally a Christmas event but this year we opted to try a 'New Year' event. It was very successful with 34 members attending. We were joined by special guest Richard Howitt MEP - who is probably the hardest working MEP in the whole of the UK!