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Opinion: A Norfolk and Suffolk manifesto? Here are the six key areas we need to fight for...

PUBLISHED: 12:04 20 September 2017

The A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton . Pic: Highways England.

The A47 between North Tuddenham and Easton . Pic: Highways England.

Highways England

“Oh Norfolk!”

These were the words my partner and I found ourselves proclaiming on a journey recently when the phone signal cut out within seconds of us passing the county sign on the A11.

Days earlier, while on a run during a family holiday in deepest darkest Yorkshire, I’d sent a tweet expressing frustration that the levels of 4G I was enjoying in between the mountains, would unlikely be experienced in most parts of this county.

The massive response highlighted that fact many others feel similar frustrations.

And what both experiences showed was just how much we still need to fight and campaign for in this region to reach parity with many other parts of the country. And that’s not just in terms of technology.

I’m lucky enough to be in a position that allows me to galvanise people to attempt to convince the powers that be our region deserves more of the financial pie than it currently receives.

So, with that in mind, below are the six key areas where I think action will need to be taken over the next 10 years to keep us up to speed. No doubt they’ll be issues will be giving plenty of coverage to on these pages. They are:

* Improved Broadband/4G/phone signal. There’s been some great advances in this area in recent years, but the fact that you can sometimes lose connection within a few minutes of leaving the city shows there’s still a great deal of work to do to bring us up to speed.

* Road links. We’ve fixed the A11, now we need a fully dualled A47 to open up easy access to and from another part of the country. Watch out for lots of action from the paper on this over the months and years to come.

* Better trains. It’s not just that the trains to and from London need to get faster, we need to be able to rely on them more as well. How we all long for a time when you can travel by the train at the weekend without facing massive hassle.

* Fewer have/have not communities. Below the surface of this being an affluent part of the world, Norfolk and Suffolk are not without their deprivation issues. These are even harder to tackle at a time of reduced council budgets so some innovative ideas will be needed to come up with solutions.

* Coping with an influx of people. I think Norfolk has more than enough green space to cope with the predicted population rise without losing its charm and character, but what worries me more is the expanded communities don’t get the improved services they will need. I live in Hethersett where seeing the GP has become akin to an SAS challenge and that’s before the impact of lots of new people is properly felt.

* Providing the elderly with decent care. Given Norfolk is already the oldest county in the UK, this probably would be at the top of any league table of issues we are facing. Once again with council budgets shrinking this is a real concern and hard work will be needed to ensure no-one is left languishing in an unacceptable situation.

Can you think of an issue I’ve missed? Drop me an email at david.powles@archant.co.uk

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