Council reflects on supporting district through COVID-19 at Annual General Meeting
Date published: 27th May 2021
North Norfolk District Council held the Annual General Meeting (AGM) last night (26 May) in the Chapel at Greshams School.
The annual meeting is an opportunity for local authorities to reflect on the year they’ve had, appoint a new Chairman of the Council, approve proposed chairs to internal and external committees and agree the political balance of the council.
The AGM was the first opportunity for members to meet in person, since COVID restrictions meant that Council meetings had to be taken online.
Addressing the meeting, Leader of the Council Sarah Bütikofer reflected:
“When elected, none of us elected members knew that we would be facing a global pandemic, and how we would have to stand up for, and fight for our communities in unprecedented ways.
I am so proud of our District Council and the communities of North Norfolk, in the way everyone rose to meet those challenges. We know how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country. What sometimes gets forgotten is the community spirit, the dedication to helping and serving each other and the pure kindness that we also benefit from in this part of the world.
None of us have been unaffected by COVID-19. We all know family, friends, neighbours and constituents that have been impacted by the disease”
Through the Council’s local response to COVID-19, a community support programme was set up for local residents who were shielding or self-isolating, which operated via the Council’s local Co-ordination Centres. From these centres, almost 500 food parcels and over 5000 prescriptions were delivered and staff volunteers helped secure and deliver from local and national retailers.
Within the Council offices, officers administered support for businesses and residents in the area, including;
• £26 million in Business Rate Relief payments
• £120 million in Government Business Grants
• Made a significant number of hardship payments to local residents in receipt of benefits
• Support was also provided for rough sleepers under the national “Everybody In” programme
Throughout 2020 and into 2021, the Council has given focus to ensuring the district was equipped with measures to locally minimise the risk of COVID-19, with a strong delivery in outward facing public services, such as the provision of hand sanitisation stations, promoting social distancing measures, industrial sanitisation (known as ‘fogging’) and the deployment of COVID Support Officers.
Through the local efforts to provide a COVID-safe environment, North Norfolk experienced some of the lowest infection rates in the country throughout the summer months, despite significantly higher visitor numbers to coastal towns.
Cllr. Bütikofer outlined further headline achievements for the Council, aside from the COVID response, which have continued to deliver the core aims as outlined in the Corporate Plan, including:
• Delivery of homes instead of bed and breakfast accommodation designated for the safe housing of residents presenting as homeless and in need of temporary accommodation, with plans to increase these numbers. Whilst delivering financial benefits for all North Norfolk residents.
• Delivered new affordable homes – with our first affordable green homes now progressing (making them affordable to live in too).
• Worked in partnership to deliver affordable flats with on-site care for older people
• Delivery of Electric Vehicle Charging Points to better support green transport alternatives in the district
• The planting 20,000 trees, with plans in place for a further 40,000 as part of the 110,000 Trees project
• Hosting Major Climate Forums and the progression of an Environmental Charter for the Council to operate and adhere by
• Development of business units in North Walsham to create new jobs and expand local business opportunities.
• Support for the Government Kickstart scheme, helping to employ 16-24 year olds into employment, which has helped create around 100 new opportunities for young people.
• Securing external investment of £3 million for the North Walsham Heritage Action Zone programme, delivering improvements to the town centre.
• The continued delivery of the £12m The Reef leisure centre in Sheringham, which is due for completion on time and on budget this year.
Cllr. Bütikofer closed her address to the AGM, saying:
“I do not deny there is much more to do, but I believe this Council has a record it can be proud of. We promised to deliver housing, to support business, to work hard to protect our natural environment and to put our residents first. We have delivered and we plan to go on delivering for the people of North Norfolk who are and always will be our number one priority.”