Town Mayor report September 2020

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Thanks to technology I was able to attend and chair the September Council meeting, despite still being in Hertfordshire helping my son with his boat refurbishment. It looked very smart as it left the dry dock, after 3 weeks of hard work and long hours. I was in the small village of Aldbury, a quintessential English village of timber framed houses, village green, pond and manor house and even still had its own shop, post office and garage. Although technology made the link possible unfortunately it was not very reliable and the Deputy Town Mayor had to come to the rescue and take over the meeting a couple of times. However, having been forced by Covid to test run virtual meetings I can see that virtual links will always be part of meetings in the future.

We have had a number of residents ask about our plans for the area at the top of Hillside allotments which was touched on very briefly in the latest Thorpe St Andrew News. I can assure people that we will be listening to all ideas and representations before any final decision is made. At the moment this piece of amenity land is home to our orchard which is in need of attention and the water tank which feeds the allotments tanks, but it also commands one of the best views over the river valley and we believe it could be enjoyed by more local residents seeking a tranquil seat and rest. I am always happy to chat things over with residents and listen to their ideas. Please stop me if you see me walking along Elizabeth Avenue with Trixie my dog.

Broadland Planning Committee recently approved three applications for the new business park extension at Postwick junction. They were a Lidl supermarket which will allow residents more variety and will be competition for Saisnsbury’s which opened 30 years ago, a  police control centre which will employ over 200 people and should benefit the town as this will naturally see more police vehicles in the vicinity. The other approval was for an electric vehicle charging station, similar to a petrol station but with electric charging points. This is to be one of many across the whole of UK and will help convert drivers to using electric vehicles. The facility will include places to rest and eat and small retail outlets similar to existing petrol stations. I know that the fear of lack of charging points is a major factor when people are considering the purchase of electric vehicles so I really welcome this initiative.

Residents local to River Green will have noticed that the grey landing craft boat has recently sunk on the island side and a floating bund has been installed by the Broads Authority to prevent any oil spillage into the water course. The Town Council are keeping this under observation and we have requested further meetings with both the BA and Environment Agency to discuss our concerns.

The cameras at The Buck public house site were refused by Broadland DC planners but the owner has now appealed that decision, so they remain in place for now. The steel bollards that were erected have to be changed to timber and we are monitoring this situation also. Still on planning issues, we are expecting a fresh planning application to be submitted for the Pinebanks site with separate applications for the old Langley School site.

I mentioned last month that the Town Council had interviewed new office staff and a groundsman. I am pleased to say that all three have now started their positions and are settling in well. The groundsman had a particularly interesting first day, as that was the day the large bough fell from the horse chestnut tree on River Green. Fortunately, nobody was injured and the tree has been inspected and is in good order. The bough itself weighs around 40 tons so we are having to get specialists in to deal with it. It will receive attention as soon as possible. The Town Council has regular inspections of all trees on TC land and action is taken to deal with any reported dangers. However, trees are live items and we understand that this bough severed through weight of fruit, so we can expect a good conker season.

Merchant Navy, 3rd September, day was marked as usual with the Red Ensign being raised on the flag pole at River Green, being ex merchant navy I was sorry to miss this but was still away, although my brother did travel up from Bury St Edmunds to ensure an MN uniform was present, near the flag. I would like to thank the Deputy Town Mayor Cllr. Lawn for stepping in during my absence.

John Fisher, Town Mayor.