Norfolk County Council Elections 2021: Who should you vote for?
- Credit: PA
Norfolk goes to the polls on Thursday, May 6 for the Norfolk County Council elections, with 83 divisions up for grabs.
But who should get your vote? We asked representatives from the main groups to tell readers, in their own words, why their party's candidates deserve a mark next to their names on the ballot sheet.
The current political make-up at County Hall is Conservatives 52, Labour 16, Liberal Democrats nine, Independent three, Independent (non-aligned) one, non-aligned one and two vacancies.
Andrew Proctor (Conservative group leader and leader of Norfolk County Council)
"Responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic has dominated the past year.
"Our staff, councillors and services have made a vital contribution leading the way on many projects, such as delivering 5,500 pieces of ICT equipment so that no child in Norfolk was left behind.
"Norfolk Conservatives have responsibly managed over £1.4bn of your money each year - investing more in highway repairs, a £120m programme to provide special needs school places, ensuring all our libraries and recycling centres are kept open, maintaining the quality and budget of adult social care, starting to build 650 new homes, constructing the Great Yarmouth Third River Crossing and planning for the Norwich Western Link.
"We will become a carbon neutral council by 2030 including planting 1m trees and protecting our county estate and woodlands.
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"We want to represent all parts of Norfolk. We understand the needs of rural and urban communities and have an ambitious plan to protect and enhance all the services people value.
"We will drive economic and social recovery and care for our environment.
"Investment in care services, road maintenance, better connectivity and renewable energy is a vital part of our plan.
"We will support our young people to get the skills and training they deserve. We will get solutions to flood problems in the county.
"We will work to deliver what we set out to do in an enterprising way with value for money at its heart, strengthening and supporting recovery where needed and constantly trying to make life better for everyone."
Ben Price (Green Party candidate)
"The Green Party is pledging to build a Green Recovery in every community.
"We want to see Norfolk leading in new industries, creating many new jobs needed for our future.
"Norfolk could be one of the first counties to produce green hydrogen, from renewable electricity brought onshore at Bacton.
"Our county is also in a position to establish a beneficial mix of forward-looking sustainable agriculture and rewilded places to support biodiversity as well as tourism.
"We want ambitious carbon budgets leading to carbon neutrality by 2030 - not just words and promises from other political parties - and a universal basic income.
"Transport in Norfolk needs a radical rethink. We must stop wasting public money on road building, instead improving bus and train services. We need to support smaller communities, making sure they are virtually connected to allow working from home and to keep facilities such as pubs and post offices.
"We want good local schools for all children, in areas with good air quality.
"And we'd focus on providing good adult social services. In recent years, the council has failed some of the most vulnerable: improvements to mental health provision and improvements to services for adults with disabilities or special needs, would be priorities.
"We need action on climate now. If you elect a Green, you'll know someone on the council is putting the county's future first.
"We want to make Norfolk strong, resilient economically and environmentally, and to bring hope and imagination to residents.
"We need a Green voice on the county council."
Sandra Squire (leader of the Independent group)
"A couple of weeks ago a motion was put to the regular meeting of Norfolk County Council that called for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to be rebuilt.
"It was an important proposal: there are real problems with the fabric of the building and it urgently needs attention.
"While it’s not the county council’s job to do this work, a strong statement would have put pressure on the government to fund the work.
"So what happened? Party-political game playing led to the Labour party withdrawing the motion after the Conservatives tried to amend it to make themselves look good. It wasn’t even put to the vote.
"Party-political posturing is the worst thing about County Hall. Independent councillors can work with anyone to get the job done.
"We don’t have to worry about upsetting party bosses and are answerable only to you – our residents.
"In the four years since the last elections we have achieved real benefits for the people of Norfolk and influenced many policies.
"Like my plan to plant a million trees to tackle climate change which was adopted by the council and is now being put into action.
"It was also the Independents who brought the motion to reduce single use plastics at County Hall. (Although the Conservatives like to claim both were their ideas)
"There’s a record number of Independent candidates standing this time.
"The more of us who win, the more common sense we’ll be able to bring to County Hall - Putting people before party politics."
Steve Morphew (Labour group leader)
"Norfolk Deserves Better. After four years of council tax increases, inflation busting councillor allowance hikes, ‘cruel and callous’ treatment of disabled people, and more service cuts for children and families it is time to do better.
"Emerging from the pandemic Norfolk needs investment in our communities and countryside, public services and local independent businesses that got us through.
"There is a pot of Covid recovery money to pay for these pledges. Labour would be proud to
"Start to restore children’s centres using vacant high street premises; bring back the youth service, Save Holt Hall and the Norfolk Music Service. No child will go hungry in Norfolk.
"Upgrade and improve Norfolk’s existing road network rather than building unnecessary, expensive and environmentally damaging new ones; expand sustainable transport alternatives and public transport
"Support communities to take on developers and defend the character of our countryside and county
"Tackle climate change and protect our natural environment – create green jobs, rewild 1,000 acres, extend partnership schemes with parishes and community groups for local initiatives
"Help communities secure local pubs and shops to prevent villages and market towns becoming dormitories for urban centres
"Bring care services back in-house and genuinely coproduce services with those who use them to improve standards, get better value for money, and a better deal for paid and unpaid carers
"Fight for better health, mental health and dentistry services
"Norfolk Labour manifesto, manifesto on a page and easy read versions are at NorfolkLabour.com"
Steffan Aquarone (Liberal Democrat group leader)
"The Liberal Democrats offer the energy, dynamism, and vision that Norfolk urgently needs as we emerge from the pandemic.
"Each of our fantastic team of candidates, who represent all ages and walks of life, is committed to the communities we serve.
"Year in year out we show up to listen to your views in order to represent you.
"Together we have a clear plan to untap Norfolk’s potential and make it an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
"We will make the most of our county’s economic potential by developing industrial zones for manufacturing, agricultural and environmental tech businesses, install 100pc superfast broadband and help SMEs grow.
"We will work to make Norfolk carbon neutral by 2030 as well as tackling air pollution and funding flood prevention schemes. The single biggest drop in carbon emissions will come from insulating rural homes.
"We will transform public transport so that everyone can get around sustainably and conveniently by creating a rural park and ride network to connect our market towns.
"And we are committed to supporting our county’s most vulnerable. We will ring-fence and increase the budget to fund additional special needs support for young people, which has been heartlessly ripped apart by the current administration.
"For too long, Norfolk has had to settle for second best – let down for decades by political leadership that lacks vision and lacks the energy and drive needed to deliver change.
"With your support this year, we can build a better Norfolk."