Monday, 28 October 2013

Incinerator debate at Norfolk County Council - 28th Sept 2013

(Photo from

Norfolk County Council; Incinerator Debate 
Monday 28th October 2013

Madam Chairman, like many members, but particularly for newer members of this Council, I have found that the information to consume for this debate has been vast, but worse than that, there have been so many conflicting pieces of information.

I have found it difficult to believe what is fact and what is fiction? I have found it difficult to decide how I should be voting.

For myself; the primary aspect that I have based my decision on, is the referendum that was held. I am here, indeed I believe we are all here, because we believe in democracy. I simply cannot ignore that 65,000 people voted against this project in West Norfolk. I simple cannot ignore that a majority of Councillors were returned to this Council in May on the basis of opposing this incinerator.

I witnessed, as an ordinary member of the public, the disgraceful way in which the West of our County was treated by the last Tory administration. I witnessed how leading members of this Council bullied and belittled anti-incinerator campaigners who were only after all exercising their democratic right - the actions of those individuals will forever be a stain on this authorities’ reputation and I will not align myself to this behaviour.

Trust in politicians is at an all-time low, faith in democracy to resolve our problems is decreasing. What a tragedy that this will only be compounded by this issue, when actually it should be motivating people to be involved so that it never happens again.

I will not vote for a situation that I believe to be fundamentality wrong. For me, voting for this to proceed would condone what action has gone before, and I will therefore, despite the financial risks, not vote for this incinerator.

Incineration itself is an outdated and obsolete solution – it is a process that admits that society has been unable to deal with its own waste. Like some monster fit for Halloween itself, it consumes our rubbish, without regard for the fact that much of it could have been recycled or not used at all. The focus should be on reducing our consumption, rather than burning away our mistakes. This technology is outdated, it is costly, and it is not wanted in Norfolk.

Madam Chairman, I find it hard to comprehend how we can find ourselves in this position at all. I find it hard to grasp that the Conservative group of this Council could be so negligent, so arrogant as to push this project through to the extent that it has been. And now we are told that we cannot even afford to pay to terminate this project without massive cuts to services – that is arrogance from the past Tory group of the highest possible degree; putting in safeguards that do not give any opportunity to cancel whatsoever, an attitude that has resulted in a situation where it would appear to be ‘incinerator or bust’.

Councils are notoriously risk adverse, but yet we are told that despite a very real risk of this project failing, we would be unable to afford a penalty clause that this Council agreed to. It would seem that either someone somewhere has been grossly negligent, or, forced into situations that they should not have been.

This incinerator train was set in motion a long time ago, be under no doubt, a failure to stop this incinerator from happening, or the financial burden that may result, rests with nobody other than the previous Conservative administration of this Council. This situation represents to a far greater degree the lengths to which some people were prepared to go to, to ensure that it happened, rather than a failure on the part of anybody trying to stop it.

Councillor Terry Jermy (Labour) - Thetford West Division

 How people voted. Courtesy of

Sunday, 6 October 2013

September: Log of activities undertaken as a Thetford Councillor

Councillor Terry Jermy; Log of activities undertaken

A round-up of activities undertaken as the Norfolk County Councillor
for the Thetford-West Division and Thetford Town and District Councillor for the Thetford Saxon Ward

Telephone: 01842 750722 (Home) / 07742157967 (Mobile)
Twitter: @CllrTerryJermy

September 2013

Monday 2nd September: Attended Norfolk County Council Cabinet meeting at 9.30am, and attended Croxton Road Residents Group at 7.30pm.Updated the group on the situation with play areas in Thetford and presented my Councillors report for August.

Tuesday 3rd September: Catching up with various casework issues and responding to emails and telephone messages. Undertook preparation for Full Council at Breckland on Thursday.

Thursday 5th September: Breckland Council meeting in Dereham this morning. I spoke on the Agenda item concerning the loss of the Council’s Chief Executive (Trevor Holden) and Deputy Chief Executive (Mark Stokes):

I said: “There are some here today who, upon learning that several senior officers are leaving an authority branded that authority “rudderless”. I speak of course of recent Conservative comments regarding Norfolk County Council. However, if we were to compare the percentage of Breckland officers leaving, or already left, versus that of the county, perhaps we should be mulling the loss here of not just our rudder, but also our steering wheel and sails.

Mr Chairman, I find it troubling that this authority has been left in a position where it is making what are ultimately rushed decisions, due to the fact that another authority now, understandably, wants its Chief Executive back. For a temporary arrangement, this has gone on for quite some time with no apparent progress made in the interim. And if progress has been made, we’re certainly not being told about it as a Full Council and I am left to make my own assumptions. But, Mr Chairman, we’re not just facing the loss our Chief Exec on this occasion, we faced the loss of the previous one not so long ago, and we’ve got the added complication of the second in command going as well. A rather significant loss to this Council given that individuals immense knowledge and experience. But Mr Chairman, further to these two positions, I’m aware of the loss of several very good members of staff during my time on this council in the past two years. Which leaves me to conclude, isn’t it time Mr Chairman that we undertook as a Council to review the reasons for Brecklands staff turnover? Something’s clearly not right, and if indeed the new Leader wants to move forward on a solid footing, we need to ascertain this information. So I’d like to propose that as an amendment to this recommendation.

Proposed: For the Council to carry-out a review of the senior staff turnover over the past three years to see what lessons can be learned”.

The proposal was rejected by Councillors, with Conservatives voting against.
Sunday 8th September: I attended the Norfolk County Labour Group meeting at 10am to discuss County matters and the forthcoming Full Council meeting.

Monday 9th September: I attended the Town Council Amenities Committee at 6pm, and spoke in relation to play areas – I urged the Council to now take on the play areas from Breckland Council or we would never see them improved. I then attended the monthly meeting of the Thetford Community Association.

Tuesday 10th September: Attended Norfolk County Council Community Services Overview & Review Panel meeting at 10am, discussed adult social services in Norfolk and museums. Attended Breckland Youth Advisory Board (YAB) in Dereham at 5.30pm, new funding will be made available to groups in Breckland to tackle bullying, sexual health matters, drugs and alcohol and diversity matters. Went to Thetford Town Council Planning Committee at 7pm – spoke regarding proposals for electoral ward boundaries in the Town. Very pleased that the Town Council supported my recommendation which was to merge the proposed Abbey and Redcastle Wards into one, two member ward (rather than two, single member wards).

Thursday 12th September: Attended Safer Thetford Action Group meeting at 10am.Spoke regarding concern for Flagship garage blocks – empty garage blocks will continue to be boarded up by chip-board! Fire Service expressed concern at the state of the garage blocks and the risk that they pose to their fire-fighters. A tour would be undertaken prior to bonfire night to clear as much debris from the garage blocks as possible. Discussion also regarding motorbikes and excessive usage, particularly around Barnham Common.

Friday 13th September: Attended Moving Thetford Forward Programme Delivery Panel (PDP). Spoke against the proposals for the temporary arrangements for the bus station when the current site becomes unavailable and the Minstergate site becomes operational. No shelter / waiting facilities, no parking, no arrangements for dropping off / picking up, no arrangements to limit unauthorised parking in areas such as the Chase car park or around Newtown, no alterations to traffic lights along London Road - (I suggested the installation of a button to control the lights to make it safer for pedestrians) – and all this was costing a minimum of £50,000. I said that it would make much more sense to move the bus station straight from its current site to the Minstergate one, saving a lot of money and preventing considerable disruption and preventing a potential health and safety nightmare.

Sunday 15th September: Attended the annual Battle of Britain parade and ceremony.

Monday 16th September: Full Council at Norfolk County Council. Group meeting from 9-10am and then Full Council from 10am – 3pm. I was formally welcomed to my first County meeting by the Chairman – Hilary Cox. At 6.30pm I attended the monthly meeting of the Barnham Action Group and presented my August Councillors report.

Thursday 19th September: Visited a resident in St Johns Way to discuss concerns about parking and visited a resident in Williamson Crescent to talk about a possible house exchange and concerns about repairs to their Flagship property.

Saturday 21st September – Wednesday 25th September: I attend the annual Labour Party conference in Brighton. I have written a full account of my visit to conference – this can be viewed here;

Whilst I was at conference I was very saddened to hear of yet another attack on a girl in the wooded area between the Redcastle and Abbey Estates. I was contacted by the press for my reaction to this incident and I commented as follows;
“I am Very concerned at yet another attack so soon after the previous one. Thetford is not an unsafe place, but people have got to consider their personal safety to deny people the opportunity to undertake these attacks”.

I followed this up with a discussion with the local police and asked what action they would be undertaking, they responded as follows:

“As an update, we have put the woods as one of our taskings which means it will be patrolled every evening and we have to log our results on our daily briefings. We are stopping and accounting a number of people when we do this. I also have some posters I will be putting up in the next couple of days. Also we have delivered letters to a number of addresses in the area to make them aware there is a problem and assure them we are dealing.If you would still like to meet I’m happy to try for another date that suits”.

Thursday 26th September 2013; I attended the Thetford Community Association’s Annual General Meeting this evening in my capacity as their self-employed project co-ordinator. The press release that was sent out following the meeting can be viewed on my blog;

It was fantastic to see so many young people attending and being recognized for their commitment to this project and their commitment to their own personal development. The evening was particularly poignant as we launched the Teresa Judge Award, in memory of Teresa, one of our founding members of the charity who sadly passed away this year.

Friday 27th September – Sunday 29th September: I visited Les Ulis in France (near to Paris) to help represent Thetford Town Council at an official twinned town visit – I’ve written a report on the trip that can be viewed here;

Friday, 4 October 2013

Labour Party Annual Conference 2013

Ed Milliband addressing the Eastern region delegates reception

Having had a male delegate in 2012 to the national Labour Party conference (i.e. me!), our Constituency Labour Party (CLP) had to send a female delegate this year. Cllr Brenda Canham was chosen as the delegate. I booked to go along as well to support Brenda and attend several fringe meetings and training sessions. In the end I was asked to go and act as the assistant for Richard Howitt MEP as his normal assistant was unavailable at short notice - as some of you will know I work on a part-time basis for Richard undertaking constituency liaison work.

Conference is particularly busy for any elected official, but particularly for MEPs this year - being the conference in advance of the European elections in 2014. Conference began with the East of England reception on the Saturday night - all national party figures attended this including Ed Balls, Harriet Harman and Ed Milliband (photo above shows Ed speaking at the reception, where he repeated his commitment to stop the bedroom tax). There were various other receptions that evening as well.

Sunday began with the Eastern region delegates briefing followed by a rally held at the Odeon cinema re: the European elections - Alex Mayer number 2 for Labour for the Eastern Region spoke at this and did very well as did all the other speakers. Labour candidates for the European elections seem to be of a very high calibre.

The highlight of Sunday evening was the RSPCA beer and curry event - not just a highlight because of the curry (which was very tasty!) but because the RSPCA and other guests spoke passionately about their duty to protect animals. I managed to get a few 'Stop the badger cull' pin badges and stickers to pass around to local party members.

Richard Howitt MEP meeting with Eastern region representatives

Monday was a very busy day as the bulk of functions that Richard needed to attend occurred on the Monday so it was important to be well organised. In the morning Richard was lucky enough to be called to speak in the international debate section of conference. Richard spoke regarding European matters and highlighting UKIP and Tory MEP voting records - he reminded delegates that "it really does matter who you elected to the European Parliament" - asking those present to do all they can to maximise the vote for the Labour Party in 2014. 

Big thanks to my technical consultation (i.e. Angus!) who got this video uploaded onto the internet very quickly

Also on Monday, I attended debates relating to Israel and Palestine - a very emotive subject and naturally, the debates were really quite fiery.

Tuesday started with a number of meetings with selected parliamentary candidates for the Eastern Region including North Norfolk, South Norfolk, Southend & Rochford, South Suffolk and others. The Leaders speech was on Tuesday afternoon and I thought that Ed did very well and has continued to outline some very clear differences between the Labour Party and the Conservatives. There were some clear policy pledges, including a firm commitment to axe the bedroom tax and freeze energy prices until January 2017 if Labour were to win the election in 2015.

 Ed Milliband addressing the Labour Party conference

The frozen energy bill that appeared in the conference hall to symbolise the commitment to freezing energy bills

On Wednesday I attended a fringe entitled "Does Labour have a UKIP problem?". I was pleased to see a lot of people attending this and pleased to see virtually everyone attending recognise that UKIP was indeed a threat to the Labour Party. There were numerous examples given of seats that would normally elect a Labour representative instead being won by UKIP and I was pleased to be able to highlight my own Thetford example. A joke was shared to highlight the message put out by UKIP and the Tories, it went something like this; "there was a banker, an immigrant, a voter and a politician and there was a pack of 10 biscuits. The banker takes 8 biscuits. The politician then says to the voter, watch out mate that immigrant is going to steal your biscuit".

Conference is also a great opportunity to meet up friends friends and make new ones. I went along to a Labour karoke with Jane Basham, the fantastic Labour parlimanetary candidate for South Suffolk and Luke Cresswell a member for that CLP as well as Sandy Martin who helped me a lot of with my by-election campaign and I met Tracey, who I'd never met before, but helped with telecanvassing for the by-election.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Thetford's young people recognised at annual meeting

Fifty people packed into the Annual General meeting of the Thetford Community Association last week to witness local young people being recognized for their sporting and gardening efforts.

Thirteen year old Mason Nembhard received a new award set-up by the committee to recognize a founding member of the committee that passed away earlier this year. Teresa Judge was one of the first people to join the charity when it formed in 2000 but tragically passed away this year after suffering from cancer. Mason was chosen by the TCAs football coaches to receive the Teresa Judge Award in recognition of his very good attendance and excellent attitude and dedication. Mason received a trophy and a £50 voucher for Sainsbury’s.

Speaking at the event, Chairman of the TCA, Andy Richardson said; “We began as a very small group of 5 or 6 people and have managed to keep the Ballpark open for 10 years and we have delivered a whole number of additional activities including weekly football coaching sessions, a gardening club and a cooking club. We need for more committee members though to take the charity forward and I would urge people to come forward and offer their support”.

Organisations that have financially supported the TCA were also recognized, including; Thetford Town Council, Breckland Youth Advisory Board, Shadwell Stud and Flagship Housing.

All attendees of the football coaching sessions over the past few months received a medal and a certificate at the meeting held last Thursday evening at the Meet Up Café. Special awards were awarded to Jay Marston, for good attendance, Kai Lott, for most improved player and best attitude to Ricardo Taverez. Young people that attend the TCAs weekly gardening project were also recognized with youngsters receiving packets of seeds and gardening tools as a reward for good behavior and effort.

For more information about the Thetford Community Association, to make a donation to help cover costs or to volunteer as a coach, or as a TCA committee member, please contact 07742157967.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Our visit to Les Ulis in France (one of Thetford's twin towns)

On Friday 29th Sept myself, Angus and Councillor Brenda Canham travelled to Les Ulis to represent Thetford Town Council at a commemoration of the twinning link between the two towns. We left Thetford at 11am so that we could arrive in Les Ulis for around early evening time but thanks to delays on the A11 getting out of Thetford and past Elveden, the M11 being completely shut and then delays on the M25 and Dartford Crossing - we didn't arrive into Les Ulis until gone midnight and we were naturally very tired! On Saturday we rested in the morning and then after breakfast we had a look around the shopping centre and main park before we met up with our hosts. They gave us a very informative tour around Les Ulis library ('mediatheque') and swimming pool ('piscine') and they took us to see examples of community centres and youth projects as well as a tour around some of the main housing areas. We were interested to learn that 80% of Les Ulis residents live in apartments and 60% of the population is under 30! We were amazed at the facilities that were on offer and Les Ulis Council clearly spends a lot of money on sports, recreation and culture. We also visited a skatepark, a football area (sponsored by Thierry Henry - who was born in Les Ulis) and other youth facilities.

In the evening we attended the official welcome reception hosted by the Mayor of Les Ulis Sonia Dahou. We were treated to some traditional French food and greeted in French by the Mayor who presented us each with a gift. We in turn read out a speech from the Mayor of Thetford - Cllr Stuart Wright and presented Les Ulis with a framed picture of Kings House. 

Talking with the Mayor of Les Ulis was very interesting - she is directly elected by the residents of the town and she is elected for a period of 6 years (the current Mayor has only been in office for a year as she was appointed by the last Mayor as she went on to become the MP for Les Ulis at a national election). Being the Mayor of Les Ulis is a full-time role. The 'municipal' or Council has 800 staff - and it took some time to explain about Thetford Town Council and it's responsibilities and the role of Breckland and Norfolk Councils. After the reception we visited an African music concert - reflecting Les Ulis's diverse culture with a lot of African inhabitants (Les Ulis is also twinned with Sedhiou  in Senegal).

On Sunday morning we visited a traditional French flea market - there had been torrential rain earlier in the morning so I felt very sorry for the stall holders who were braving it out! there was some food and drink prepared for us and other guests. We were then given a tour around the Council run greenhouse / allotment. 25 people work there and they grow all the plants to service the towns shrub beds and planters etc - they explained that they have been making a considerable effort to make Les Ulis a very green and pleasant place. The area also served as an allotment where school groups and youth groups could visit and learn about growing fruit and vegetable. There was also an aviary of sorts that housed stray cats found in the area which were then re-housed. After this we were treated to a Portuguese dish of fish and mashed potato - Les Ulis is also twinned with a town in Portugal. 

Big thank-you to Angus for accompanying us on the trip and not only helping with the driving (I was rather poorly and tired after a busy conference week!) but he also helped with translating and taking pictures - thankyou x