‘So much of our work is controlled by national government policy,’ says Shouldham-area councillor Pallavi Devulapalli
In our weekly Friday Politics column, West Norfolk Councillor for the Airfield Ward Pallavi Devulapalli discusses Government influence...
I read somewhere that it is a sign of getting older when the days and months seem to go faster. It’s certainly true in my case. I feel surprised every year when Christmas draws near - surely it can’t be the end of November already? There’s no slowing down at work, but somehow time must be made for buying presents and doing the other annual rituals of the festive season
I’m grateful at times like this, that my family are relatively undemanding and don’t expect too much fuss at Christmas; the boys will get presents and we will get together for a festive meal. We will have a Christmas lunch at work and presents will be given. One of my favourite things at this time of year is the Carols around the tree in Shouldham. There must be some deep wisdom in these acts of togetherness and merry-making, as the days get shorter, and the weather turns colder and more inhospitable.
It is unsettling as a councillor to realise how much of our work is controlled by national government policy. Much of the council revenue comes from housing and house building and of course car parks. Obviously, we cannot keep building indefinitely and I wonder what we can do to generate revenue once we have finished building. In the meantime, it’s concerning to see that places that have been built after assurances from local flooding authorities and other bodies have gone onto flood; climate change is likely to make flooding more likely and worse, and it makes sense to be prepared for it as the cost of picking up the pieces after an event is going to be far more than taking preventative action.
At the corporate performance panel, we had a report from officers of Anglian Water where they reported that the most likely cause of increased faecal matter in the wash at Heacham and other places is due to bird droppings. This is in spite of the fact that the RSPB has said that there has been no increase in bird numbers. However, we were told the wash is shallow, protected and the water tends to be quite warm, all of which are quite unique features and that this is probably why the bird droppings are having an effect where they might not have the same effect elsewhere. I have to say I’m not entirely convinced and I look forward to hearing from the EA in due course when they come back to a future council panel meeting. They are conducting more investigations to try and understand why the water has gone from being fairly clear to heavily polluted in a few short years.
The council launched its corporate strategic plan at the last full council meeting with votes against it from councillors of a certain political group. I couldn’t quite understand what it is that they were opposed to in the plan- it mainly talks about making West Norfolk a great place to live in and visit, and improving everyone’s standard of living. The real challenge will be in implementing the plan and I’m particularly keen to see that we do something to make travelling across the borough easier for everybody including the significant numbers of people, who either do not drive or do not own a car. I will be keenly following progress on improving both transport by buses and also active transport facilities so that more people are encouraged and enthused to walk or cycle.
This will have multiple benefits of taking cars off the roads thereby reducing road congestion, reducing accidents, reducing air pollution and improving our health.
I myself would like to walk and cycle more and will be trying to do more of this next year. I think we're very lucky to have a beautiful cycle route through the walks in Lynn. It's a great pleasure to go past the majestic trees and greenery along the way, although of course more could be done to make it easier to cross the roads and join up the paths.
One of the councillors, Cllr Ben Jones has decided to brave the cold water at Hunstanton for a Christmas Day swim in aid of the night shelter charity in Lynn, and even more remarkably, he's going to do it in a mankini! I hope he manages to raise a lot of money for the night shelter, and I wish him and all the other swimmers all the very best on the day. The link to sponsor him, should you so wish, is https://gofund.me/446d8fa5
All the best wishes to everyone for the festive season.