Extra cash hope for north Norfolk

Mary HamiltonA �90,000 'stop-gap' fund could be created to help north Norfolk people who have been hit hard by recession.Mary Hamilton

A �90,000 "stop-gap" fund could be created to help north Norfolk people who have been hit hard by recession.

People who have been made unemployed or who are stuck in low-paid jobs would benefit from the fund, which would be used to meet the increased demands for support, advice and information caused by the economic downturn.

Those needing basic training in numeracy, literacy and computer skills could benefit from extra help, and CV advice and job-hunting support could be provided for people who been unemployed for some time.

The money would also improve access, providing more services from council offices in North Walsham and Fakenham as well as the Cromer headquarters.

North Norfolk District Council cabinet this week allocated �45,000 towards the project from its reserves - meaning there is no additional cost to taxpayers for starting the fund.

And officers hope their commit-ment will be matched with another �45,000 from the North Norfolk Community Partnership.

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Economic development officer Robin Smith warned that the country is entering the second wave of recession, where local councils and their partners become more import-ant as local people increasingly need their services.

He added that it was important to see the �90,000 fund as part of an ongoing strategy to tackle the recession.

It is funded separately from a �1.1m bid to Interreg which council officers hope will fund a raft of measures to help the district's recovery in the medium term.

The council's strategy stems from ideas gathered at a recession summit that took place in April, when 140 delegates from various business sectors came together with the council to discuss how to fight the downturn.

"It is important to remember that this is not just my action plan, and not just the council's action plan," said Mr Smith. "It is everyone's plan and we have created it in partnership with the people it will help."

In the meantime, the council is relying on the North Norfolk Community Partnership to contri-bute �45,000 to the short-term fund, and a spokesman for the council said after the meeting that initial discussions were very positive.

He said: "The partnership will meet on November 23 to discuss the fund, and we are confident that our partners will support the initiative."

However, if the funding bids are not approved, the council will be forced to scale back its plans, focusing on priority areas rather than the wide-ranging approach it favours.