Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Press release: No car parking charges petition reaches 7,000

A petition launched by the Breckland Labour Group against the introduction of car parking charges across the district has already exceeded the organizers estimation and continuing to increase rapidly with over 7,000 people now putting their names to it. Breckland Council revealed in December last year that it intended to undertake a feasibility study around charging for public car parking in the five market towns of Thetford, Dereham, Swaffham, Attleborough and Watton. This study was due to cost ratepayers up to £50,000 but that was reduced to £25,000 in light of public pressure. Terry Jermy, Leader of Breckland Labour Group, who spent last Saturday morning at the Tesco store in Thetford collecting signatures with other volunteers said; “There has been phenomenal support for our petition and I am delighted that we have now collected over 7,000 signatures. There is across the board support against the introduction of charging for car parking in Breckland”. On Saturday, the EDP revealed that Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman is planning a survey on local people’s views on the idea of charging for Dereham. Mr Jermy added; “I am delighted that Mr Freeman will be taking on board the concerns of local people with regard to this debate. I very much hope he uses some of the 1,400 comments received on our online petition which clearly show that the vast majority of people do not support the introduction of charging for our public car parks and urge him to implore his Conservative colleagues at Breckland Council to think again”. A public meeting will be taking place in Dereham on Wednesday 1st February, from 6pm – 8pm at Dereham Memorial Hall to discuss this issue. Last week Thetford Town Councillors agreed to invite Breckland Leader William Nunn, and Chief Executive Terry Huggins to a future meeting to explain the proposals and hear the concerns of councilors. To sign the online petition visit; http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/noparkingchargebdc For more information contact; Terry Jermy on 01842 750722 or email terry.jermy@googlemail.com

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Round up of recent press coverage re: Breckland Car Parking charges

Letter to Thetford & Brandon 19.01.12 - re: Car parking charges

My views on youth issues in Thetford

A debate recently took place through Facebook on provision for young people in Thetford, here's my contribution; My 'two penneth' for what it is worth.... we have always struggled in Thetford to provide a satisfactory level of facilities and activities for young people. We are a small market town, but with a very large youth population, we have entrenched deprivation (the child poverty rate for my Council Ward is 29%) and low car ownership - this means it is difficult for many parents to afford to access paid activities or facilities on a regular basis or to transport their children to activities that are taking place or support their membership of organised clubs etc. (watching the commitment my sister has to put into supporting my nephew who is a member of a local football team is frankly inspiring). A limited public transport network compounds the problems - ask any young person how easy it is to get to and from Bury cinema for example on the bus (let alone the cost of the cinema, drinks etc. Frankly if I did not drive, myself and my circle of friends - who don't drive, would have a much reduced social life and we're all in our mid 20's!). As a town, we have also been historically poorly served by 'the councils'. For example, Norfolk County Council who were the primary provider of youth activities, for many years provided one of the least amounts of money for youth services in the country, even before you considered the additional costs incurred when spreading that service over a large rural county. Norfolk CC "deleted" their youth service last year and made all of their youth workers redundant, practically wiped out the Connexions support service, closed the Thetford Pupil Referral Unit and much else - including cuts to teenage pregnancy support services. Added to national Government cuts to things like the Educational Support Allowance (EMA), rises in tuition fees, scrapping the future jobs fund etc - you can see why young people are getting a bad deal at the moment (nearly 1 million youth unemployed - not including the 16 & 17 year olds of course not in education or employment as they don't register on the statistics). More locally of course, Breckland Council has historically not provided many activities for young people, or indeed many cultural or sports related services, although they have increased somewhat over the last few years, the service is still somewhat inadequate and Breckland is a large rural district, and many activities take place in the villages, as opposed to towns like Thetford (although I am very grateful for the £3,000 they recently granted to the Football Coaching project delivered by the TCA). I have long believed that Thetford Town Council needs to get a grip of the situation and support young people. They are the future of our town (a much overused cliche, but it is true). Last year I asked the Town Council to create a yearly budget of £40,000 to support children and young people - even that was insignificant, but it was an important start - eventually they granted £10,000 per year, but I have hopes that this will rise. The Town Council spends £750,000 per year in total, yet contributed just £5,000 to 'youth projects' (although I except that young people do benefit from generic services such as public toilets, Christmas lights switch on for example) but the point remains, for a town where over 25% of the population is under 16 years of age, the towns budget did not reflect this and still does not reflect this. So what can we do about it? If you're a parent reading this, or a young person, get yourself to the public question time at a Town Council meeting (last Tuesday of every month, always starting at 7pm, always with a 15 minute public question time at the start) ask YOUR representatives what they are doing to support young people (I am constantly surprised at how 'anti youth' some councillors are), make sure you vote at local elections (as the point has been made earlier by Bob, some very good pro-young people candidates do not get elected, because older members of our community and far more active when it comes to elections. And also, get out there and volunteer. All the previous comments about volunteering are very valid, but I can entirely understand peoples concerns about volunteering. Working with young people can be daunting, particularly given many of the young people can be challenging (wherever you live) - and there is a distinct difference with volunteering in Thetford and some nearby leafy village. There is an important role for 'councils' and other organisations to support parents and well meaning members of the community with volunteering, to facilitate and enable that commitment to flourish, by providing training etc. I work on a self-employed basis for a local charity - Thetford Community Association - that runs football coaching sessions for young people aged 10-14 years at the Ballpark on St Martins Way, last week we interviewed two people (one from the Abbey Estate, and one from Mundford) who are going to be volunteering at our sessions, two guys with limited experience in youth work / football coaching, but a very firm commitment to wanting to help their community, which is highly commendable. There are many examples of good projects, as had been demonstrated in this post, and if people wanted to they could quite easily fit in and give a small amount of time that would make a big difference.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Letter to Norfolk County Council re: bus passes

Director of Public Transport, Norfolk County Council County Hall Martineau Lane Norwich, Norfolk NR1 2DH Friday 6th January 2011 Dear Sir or Madam, There is currently much confusion in Thetford amongst our older residents regarding public transport and in particular, what public transport they can use with their free bus pass. I would be most grateful if somebody could write to me and explain what bus services are available to the people of Thetford and which ones they can use their bus pass on to receive free travel. Of particular interest is the route from Thetford to Norwich, but I would be grateful for as much detail as possible that you are able to provide, including whether or not the bus passes can be used on National Express coaches that stop at Thetford and whether or not there are any restrictions on usage during certain times. This would greatly assist myself and other local councillors when advising residents. Many thanks, Terry Jermy Thetford Town & Breckland District Councillor Leader of the Breckland Labour Group

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Letter to Secretary of State, Re: Kings Lynn Incinerator

Dear Secretary Of State, I am writing to you to ensure you are fully aware of the position of Breckland Council as regards to an incinerator in King's Lynn. I do appreciate that as Secretary Of State you will have a difficult decision to make. However, I have become aware that the Leader of Breckland Council has written to you in relation to the matter. Councillor Nunn is the Chairman of the Norfolk Waste Partnership, and it is my understanding that he has said that Breckland Council supports an incinerator in King's Lynn. As a member of Breckland Council, and as Leader of the Opposition Labour Group, I feel obliged to inform you that there has been no consultation with the Council nor indeed has this matter been discussed at any Breckland Council committee meeting. Were there to be consultation with the council, and/or the people of Breckland, I am confident that rather than overwhelming support there would be much opposition to an incinerator in King's Lynn. The Breckland Labour Group is completely against these proposals which have so clearly been rejected by the residents of the Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Council area. You may be aware that Councillor Nunn is also a member of Norfolk County Council, and that Norfolk County Council is proposing an incinerator. I can not say that this prompted him to write to you, but nor I can say it did not influence what he wrote. I believe that the Leader of King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council has also written to you. I am aware that, in stark contrast to Breckland Council, he has consulted with his council and that there was no support for an incinerator. Indeed it can be argued that KLWNBC is unanimous in its opposition to an incinerator, and that their opposition is a reflection of the views of the overwhelming majority of the district. Yours sincerely, Terry Jermy Thetford Town & Breckland District Councillor Leader of the Breckland Labour Group