Friday, 19 April 2013
Councillor / Canvassing Update - after 1,000 houses canvassed - 19.04.13
I've been pounding the streets for the past week knocking on doors for the Norfolk County Council elections. I've knocked on approx 1,000 doors so far so I think I am getting a good understanding of the issues that people wish to talk about. The two BIG issues by far are the 'King Street Square' and the moving of the Bus Station. Most people are absolutely horrified that so much money was spent on the square and consider it to be a complete waste of money (I agree!). Others have lost faith in voting altogether as a result of the Thetford Parish Poll regarding the future of the Bus station and people are still very angry that it is moving to St. Nicholas Street. Unfortunately these are not issues that whoever wins the election will have much of a say over, and both County Councillors for Thetford will have to make the best of a bad situation! I did not support the moving of the bus station and supported the Parish Poll occurring - even though I know the result would not be binding and Breckland Council / Moving Thetford Forward would be able to ignore the outcome of the poll. However, as I have reminded people this week time and time again, if we were to allow people to do whatever they wanted, or put up no resistance at all, things would be so much worse and there would be a downwards spiral, we must keep working towards the sort of community that we want to live in.
All this canvassing has resulted in a considerable amount of casework that has been collected, that I will attempt to cover below;
For the past 7 days alone....
1. Kimms Belt garage block: These are the garages at Kimms Belt - I have previously reported garages on numerous occasions and I am still holding out hope that Flagship Housing will come up with a more medium / long term solution for them. In the meantime I am hoping that they can at least tidy these ones up and remove this fly-tipping.
2. Pathway problems: The photo below is of a stretch of pathway around Elm Road. I have been nagging Norfolk County Council for years to upgrade the pathways around the Barnham Cross area. This is a Norfolk matter - but I have still been nagging even though I am only a Town & District Councillor. This week I got a fantastic email from the Highways Officer to say that Barnham Cross had been included in forward plans for footpath improvements and the extent of the work would depend on the budgets available - great news, and I am hopeful for a positive outcome.
3. Fir Road Garages: The photo below is of the Fir Road garage block - I have been assured by Flagship that they may finally address this. This particular garage is full of rubbish and is not only a fire risk, but a health and safety one- particularly with the Calor gas cylinder present on top of the garage.
I have also reported fly-tipping in the Elm Road garage block (a mattress) and complained about the build-up of leaves. I've requested that fascia boards on all garage blocks are looked at for repair.
4. Street Furniture issues: I have requested that this metal stump along the top of Almond Grove is removed - I believe it was once a no balls games sign but it has been damaged and now presents a health and safety risk.
I have also been liaising between the Town Council and a group of young people who have constructed their own bench in memory of a young man that tragically passed away. The bench will be installed at the front of Pine Close shops and I am very pleased to say that Town Council staff applied for the necessary licence from Breckland Council for the bench and have constructed the necessary concrete base ready for the bench to be fixed to in the near future. Another Councillor, Corinne Fulford, spoke to the Thetford Garden Centre and managed to get some plants donated that will be planted in the area by the young people themselves. An excellent community initiative that has come from very sad circumstances.
5. Wheelie Bin issues; I made enquiries on behalf of two residents regarding wheelie bins. One resident was £72 and was having to pay extra for Serco to collect his wheelie bin from his property as he was unable to take it to the designated collection area himself. He is in fact eligible for free collection given his age. I also spoke on behalf of a family requiring a larger wheelie bin than the standard size, but unfortunately because of a change in Breckland Council policy (that I opposed!) they will now have to pay £62 to have their bin upgraded to the larger size.
I have also spent a lot of time talking to people about the state of the play areas, education provision generally - including the recent Ofsted report for Thetford Academy. Just two households, out of the 1,000 that I have knocked on - raised immigration and I gladly explained my thoughts on this matter (that will be the subject of a separate blog post altogether!). I have discussed potholes, and the state of the roads generally, and the lack of car parking provision in certain areas, and much much more. Onwards to the next 1,000 doors!!