Friday, 28 October 2016

Thursday 27th October - Breckland Full Council

Today at Breckland Council was a good example of why voting for UKIP really isn't a good idea. For a start, they're supposed to be the official opposition on Breckland Council to the Conservatives but as usual, they voted to support everything that the Conservatives wanted to do. They get paid to provide the opposition (£2,600 annually) but rarely ask any serious questions or scrutinise the work of the ruling administration.
For example: Changes to the Housing Allocations Policy (i.e. who's entitled to 'social housing' locally) UKIP voted to support. Labour members, myself and Harry Clarke voted against and made the point that there is insufficient support for social housing and that the housing support team is too stretched and needs more staff. Later in the meeting under a separate vote, UKIP members again voted with Conservatives for a staff review that will see the number of staff in the housing department reduced. Similar reductions in the already stretched environmental services team. Labour members highlighted that the Council is not dealing with fly-tipping etc as it is and there needs to be a greater focus on enforcement and highlighted that there are significant issues with Serco and that there are financial penalties built into the Serco contract and if they aren't doing their job properly they should be fined (e.g. Serco are supposed to litter pick before cutting the grass to avoid litter being shredded - hmmmm yeah!!). Tory members also highlighted that locally we have good levels of employment - great yes, but as our reports have shown us there is currently a 7 to 1 ratio for average salaries in Breckland to average house prices. I..e purchasing a house in unaffordable, rents are too high, people are trapped renting and cannot afford to raise a deposit etc. There's statistically more people in work claiming benefits then out of work. We're a low wage economy - fact.
Under Councillors questions - Labour members highlighted the unacceptable time that Flagship Housing properties are sat empty - 'void figures' - which are now on average a month - crazy when people are desperate for homes - and I asked what Breckland would be doing to get Flagship to fix this. I also asked when bins would be installed at Riverside complex, would the three-legged bridge be upgraded and made DDA compliant and complained that Councillors had not been engaged in reviewing parking and transport issues in Thetford. Harry spoke up again for Dereham residents regarding the Dereham Transport Study.
Such a shame more members of the public don't get to see their Councillors in action.

Speech at graveside of Maharajah Duleep Singh

Commemoration event to mark anniversary of the death of Maharajah Duleep Singh:

Maharajah Duleep Singh spent many years of his life here at Elveden, having purchased the Hall around 1863, he initiated a major expansion of the Hall and created one of the premier sporting estates in England. His children were brought up here, and through his efforts the population of the village and surrounding hamlets almost doubled. In 1877 the Maharajah hosted a visit by the Prince of Wales and he was joined on regular occasions by other dignitaries including the then Duke of Cambridge. During his time at Elveden,the Maharajah restored, the church, the estate cottages and the village school. Upon his death, Prince Frederick brought his father's body back to Elveden. His coffin, on the occasion of his burial was borne by the Estate Gamekeepers, whose descendants still live in and around Thetford.
His family maintained links with the Thetford area, and his second son Prince Frederick was a major benefactor of Thetford, firstly founding the Ancient House Museum and generously donating some of his personal collections, and latterly a large selection of his portrait collection comprising a wide range of East Anglian families.

The graves here today are a key part of  the Anglo-Sikh Heritage trail and mark the final resting place of  Duleep Singh ,his  first wife Maharani Bamba and young Prince Albert. This wreath commemorates the death of Maharajah Duleep Singh on this very day in 1893 and is freely given on behalf of the people of Thetford.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Speech at Hurth on Twinning 13.09.16

Speech for twinning visit to Hurth, Germany

Mr Mayor, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. May I thank you on behalf of Thetford for hosting us this weekend and sharing with us your beautiful community.

In Thetford we are very proud of our twinning links with all four of our twin towns; Hurth, Les Ulis, Skavina and Spijkenesse.

I’m really pleased to be able to support twinning activities in my Mayoral year and to be able to visit Hurth.

Twinning provides us with an opportunity to learn from one another. Whether that be understanding different ways of working, appreciating new food, enjoying new music and of course making new friends. Twinning widens our horizons and enriches our lives.

The links established through twinning will be more important than ever for our country and will assist with maintaining that internationalist outlook built on mutual understanding, co-operation and friendship. Twinning provides us with opportunities to develop business links and to drive innovation through shared learning.

We give thanks to those people from all communities involved with twinning for their support and steely determination to maintain these important links.

Best wishes,

Terry Jermy

Mayor of Thetford