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Meet the Cabinet: West Norfolk councillor Bal Anota discusses cemeteries, solar panels and ‘forgotten town centres’

Exploring solar technology, tackling “huge concerns” at cemeteries and revitalising “forgotten town centres” are among a cabinet member’s key aims.

Cllr Bal Anota only started his latest term on West Norfolk Council in May of this year, but was appointed as its cabinet portfolio holder for property and corporate services soon after.

This means he is responsible for the likes of car parks, street lighting, open spaces and managing council-owned properties – including industrial estates and cemeteries.

West Norfolk Council cabinet member Bal Anota
West Norfolk Council cabinet member Bal Anota

He admits his first three or four weeks in the role were an “eye-opener” when it came to learning the depth of services the council provides – but he has still “very much enjoyed” his time so far.

This has included drawing up a corporate plan for the borough alongside council leader Terry Parish, who has allowed input from all of his cabinet members.

And when it comes to his own specific targets, Cllr Anota has some interesting propositions in mind.

“I am very confident in the new administration, Terry Parish and the cabinet to deliver the best for West Norfolk,” he told the Lynn News.

“We have a fantastic and diverse group of councillors with some amazing views and opinions, not only for Lynn, and more importantly the whole of West Norfolk all the villages and settlements.

“We have a fantastic opportunity to shape West Norfolk to be open to new business and revitalise the forgotten town centres. Also, we will be looking into solar technology with our car parks to not only provide shelter but also to use the space to generate electricity for local use.

“I would like to see our parish councils more included in our decision making on developments and things that affect their villages.”

Cllr Anota first served as a Conservative councillor back in 2016, but was unable to attend meetings on a regular basis due to his commitment to running a family business.

However, after doing so for 22 years, it was sold in late 2020 – now giving him the chance to focus more on his borough council role.

This time, he stood as an Independent councillor so as not to be constrained by “the restriction of party politics”.

One area of his portfolio that may come under increased scrutiny during his time in the position is the maintenance of the council’s cemeteries. Earlier this year, numerous residents voiced frustrations about what they felt was a lack of communication while having safety warning tags put up on gravestones.

At the time, the borough council said this was necessary to highlight safety concerns – and Cllr Anota has backed that stance.

He said: “This is a nationwide issue and it’s one of keeping residents safe in an area that is open to the public. I was first made aware of this by the officers very soon after my appointment to the cabinet and then soon after that by social media.

“Where I initially had huge concerns about this issue, I have since seen first-hand the extent of the problem surrounding headstone safety.

“Some headstones looked absolutely fine but on closer inspection, the bases were moving from the ground.

“The issue regarding the lack of communication is mainly down to the contact details – unfortunately when people move, they have so much to do and plan, and do not think to update new details to the council for this purpose.”

Cllr Anota has also visited many of the borough’s green spaces during the past few months and has highlighted the “fantastic job” ground maintenance teams do to keep them up to scratch.

This followed five of them being handed Green Flag Awards earlier in the year.

Behind the councillor: “If I get any spare time, I love spending this with my family as my family are the most important thing to me.

“I must admit I am a huge football fan and do enjoy watching live games when I can. I enjoy DIY, especially carpentry, and have made a few bespoke pieces for our home.

“I love to explore the wonderful sights in and around West Norfolk with my family and dog George.”

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