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West Norfolk Council leader Terry Parish outlines official four-year corporate strategy

West Norfolk Council has officially adopted a new corporate strategy which sets out its ambitions and priorities for the next four years.

It features four priority areas – to promote growth and prosperity to benefit the borough; to protect our environment; to support our communities; and to deliver efficient and effective services.

Under each of these priority areas, there are a number of specific objectives.

West Norfolk Council leader Terry Parish has outlined the new corporate strategy. Picture: West Norfolk Council
West Norfolk Council leader Terry Parish has outlined the new corporate strategy. Picture: West Norfolk Council

Among others, these include improving skills and employment opportunities and supporting business growth, working with others to manage and protect our coastline, rivers and streams and improve sea water quality, and reducing our carbon emissions.

The Independent-led administration also aims to work with partners to reduce residents’ isolation, improve access to affordable housing, support parish councils, and manage the council's budgets to remove any projected budget deficit over the four-year period.

Cllr Terry Parish, the leader of the borough council, said: "This is our first corporate strategy since being elected in May, and it is the first time in 20 years that a minority administration has been formed, and the first in West Norfolk that is made of up a partnership of independent councillors and other parties.

“As a result, the approach we have wanted and needed to take has been one of open and honest collaboration, listening to the views of those elected to represent their communities.

"I believe we have developed a well-rounded strategy that focuses on the health, well-being and development of individuals and communities, as well as the growth of businesses.

“It also acknowledges the differences between the rural, coastal, and urban areas of our borough and embraces new development as well as the preservation of our wonderful heritage.

“Running through the strategy is a desire to tackle those issues that impact on our environment, including water quality, flooding and CO2 emissions, aiming for a cleaner, greener, and better protected borough.

"We will be reviewing the corporate strategy annually. We are committed to consulting and engaging with residents and businesses within our communities, along with parish councils and other partners, to see if we are tackling the things that matter to them and providing the right services in ways that meet their needs.

“Clearly, this will need to be done alongside careful management of our budget.”

Cllr Parish has also referenced a recent borough council pledge to lobby the Government to reduce the “unfair” £3million in annual funding it currently provides for Internal Drainage Boards.

These boards manage water levels and undertake works to reduce flood risks, and currently get half of their contributions from the borough council.

"Councils across the country are facing increasing budgetary pressures within rising energy bills and ever-increasing costs of materials,” Cllr Parish added.

“In West Norfolk we have the added impact of the Internal Drainage Board (IDB) levy. 42% of the council tax income we retain is paid over to the IDB. Prior to 2013, the Government used to reimburse a portion of this.

“We don't question the crucial nature of the IDB work, but we are lobbying government for a fairer funding arrangement so that the people of West Norfolk are not disadvantaged by this financial burden."

Councillors defended the new corporate strategy at last month’s full borough council meeting after West Norfolk’s Tory leader, Cllr Stuart Dark, accused it of being nothing more than “a few short pages of upbeat sound bites”.

A draft strategy was first set out in September, and was reviewed by its corporate performance panel and cabinet in October.

Now, the council’s chief executive Lorraine Gore has said: "Adoption of the corporate strategy is a major milestone enabling us to focus our budget and resources on the priorities identified within it.

“Over the coming months we will be engaging with stakeholders and local communities on our budget setting process. This will lead to the production of an annual plan setting out exactly what will be delivered over the forthcoming 12 months.

“This is a new, more transparent approach which will help residents understand how their council tax is spent locally."

The full corporate strategy can be viewed on West Norfolk Council’s website (https://www.west-norfolk.gov.uk/corporate-strategy).

There is an opportunity to leave a comment about the strategy using the link on the webpage, and further opportunities to get involved will be publicised over the coming months.

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