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Meet the cabinet: West Norfolk councillor Sandra Squire says she hopes to ‘protect and improve’ in environment and coastal role





A West Norfolk Council cabinet member has expressed her wishes to increase recycling rates and reduce other waste in the borough.

Cllr Sandra Squire, who was first elected as a borough councillor in 2015, is now on her third term as a councillor, having also spent four years as a county councillor.

She became an Independent councillor in 2017, meaning the majority of her time in the role has been as an Independent.

West Norfolk councillor Sandra Squire. Picture: West Norfolk Council
West Norfolk councillor Sandra Squire. Picture: West Norfolk Council

Cllr Squire said she is “very pleased” to have been appointed as a cabinet member, with the environment and coastal portfolio being one she is “not unfamiliar” with, having previously served a short stint as a deputy cabinet member for environment several years ago.

“So it’s more of a case of being reacquainted with it, but there has been a lot to go over in a short space of time,” she said.

“I requested new recycling bins along the prom at Hunstanton for example, they were installed before the start of the school holidays. There are other initiatives being developed and discussed, so it’s very much a case of ‘watch this space’.”

Passion, experience and a different viewpoint are among the characteristics that Cllr Squire believes she brings to her role.

“I’ve campaigned on single-use plastics and other environmental issues for a long time,” she said.

“More so after I crossed the Atlantic during a leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and saw first-hand the level of plastics in the ocean.

“As a sailor, kayaker and rower, I love the sea and the coast and appreciate the unique challenges our borough has with so many miles of coastline.”

As for being a part of a brand new independent team at the heading up the administration, Cllr Squire said it had brought a “new collegiate way of working, where everyone has a voice and ideas can be put forward by anyone”.

“Decisions are based on what will be of benefit to our residents, not any political masters,” she added.

“It is very different being in administration and it will take a little time for some differences to become obvious.”

Asked how the new administration and cabinet were getting on so far, particularly after a first full council meeting in which Conservatives attempted to pile on some pressure, she said: “We’re coping very well thank you.

“The full council meeting wasn’t really anything unexpected. I think it is unreasonable to try and judge an administration based on just a couple of months in the role.”

In terms of her specific aims for her time as cabinet member, she said she wants to “keep a steady hand on the tiller”.

“You don’t have to be a cabinet member to make a difference, I think I proved that when we were in opposition,” she said.

“Norfolk County Council’s 1 million trees project developed from a motion of mine for example.

“Obviously I'd like to increase recycling rates and reduce other waste, especially single-use plastics, but we need to make sure whatever initiatives are introduced are suitable for our residents.

“Water quality and flooding are also big issues for our residents and something we continue to look at.

“I’m thinking along the lines of protect and improve at the moment.

“I’m finding out where we are currently before working on the direction of travel going forward.”

As for the ongoing issues with water quality at Heacham, West Norfolk Council and other agencies have been looking into it for “quite some time”.

“I have only recently got involved with this and water quality is something I am passionate about,” Cllr Squire said.

“We are not alone in these issues and I'm also speaking to my LGA (Local Government Association) colleagues in other areas to see what we can learn.

“It's is going to take some time to unpick the issues and tackle them, but I'm confident that by working together, we will be able to improve matters.”

Water safety is “vitally important”, she added, especially as our borough has a “large coast, several waterways and waterbodies”.

“Council officers have been giving talks about water safety and drowning prevention, tide times are displayed at beaches but there is always more to be done – especially in educating people around the risks and how to stay safe.”

During her time as a councillor, she has been responsible for several policies at both borough and county council, which has included everything from reductions in single-use plastics to biodiversity task groups, as well as balloon and lantern release bans.

She spent four years as the deputy group leader of the Independent Group at the borough council and is a former Independent group leader at the county council.

“At the heart of everything, is representing my residents as best I can,” Cllr Squire said.

What does Cllr Squire get up to away from the hustle and bustle of local politics?

”What is “spare time”?” she said. “I like to keep busy.

“I work full time for the Forestry Commission, I’m the secretary and rear commodore of Hunstanton Sailing Club and I have a family.

“So between council and everything else, all of which I enjoy, spare time is rare and most often spent sleeping, gardening or reading.”



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