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Meeting of all the senior figures in the Norfolk borough councils at Great Yarmouth Town Hall to discuss how the EDP Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal funds are to be administered. Picture: James Bass
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Plans are under way to ensure the tens of thousands of pounds you have donated to the EDP’s Flood Appeal can be accessed by the people who need it most as quickly as possible.
As the total reached £73,000, council leaders from across the county discussed their concerns for flood-affected constituents with EDP editor Nigel Pickover and talked about how best to use the cash.
Council officers will refer those in desperate need to the Norfolk Community Foundation and then, following their successful application, money will be given to them within just three working days.
The foundation’s chief executive, Graham Tuttle, explained that the criteria for those eligible for cash from the fund would be decided by district councils and using advice offered from Cumbria following its own flood appeal in 2005.
“People have been very quick to donate to the appeal because they see the need in Norfolk; now we need to make the process of handing out the money as simple and fast as possible,” he said.
It is hoped that councils will be able to refer those who need help as early as next Wednesday and, in the meantime, Mr Tuttle urged those who are still donating to include their name, address and signature to be eligible for Gift Aid.
“We have been able to claim thousands of pounds of Gift Aid and it really does make a huge difference,” he said.
Following devastating floods in Cumbria, an appeal was set up and funds raised were given out to worthy recipients who had been left without homes or possessions.
Cash was given to individuals who were in dire need and to charities helping to rebuild communities in the wake of the flood. It paid for cleaning up, emergency repairs, clothing, food and drink, heating and heating equipment, cookers and kettles, childcare equipment, beds and bedding and basic furniture.
We are overwhelmed. It is hard to believe that a week ago money was only just starting to trickle in. Now we have hit the staggering £73,000 mark.
And we will soon be handing out cash to those who have been hit by the floods in the hope that we can make things just a little bit better for members of our community hit so badly in the run up to Christmas.
Our appeal has captured the imagination of so many of our readers and the wider community, thankful that no lives were lost, but devastated to hear of the livelihoods and homes that have been impacted.
But while many have rallied together, the same cannot be said of top decision-makers in London.
Just days after the Prime Minister said he would help during a visit to Norfolk, representatives of our hard-pressed councils have returned dejected from meetings about how they can claim compensation.
The compensation scheme – known as Bellwin – was put in place for these sort of unexpected events. Yet actually drawing from the fund appears to have been made as hard as possible. Councils are facing eye-watering bills which they may never be able to recover. Bellwin was put in place in a different era.
Our local authorities’ budgets have been squeezed to the point where impossible choices between services are having to be made, yet they face another huge burden on their ever-shrinking budgets from forces beyond their control. We quite rightly rally around and send huge sums, aircraft, people and supplies overseas when a natural disaster strikes. Yet at the same time Whitehall budgets do not seem to be able to stretch to our own shores. We should not shirk our overseas responsibilities. We are proud of what we do to help those less fortunate than ourselves. But what about our domestic responsibilities? It should not be a question of either or.
We salute the hundreds of people who have helped communities across Norfolk and north Suffolk and, in particular, the Norfolk Community Foundation and its chief executive Graham Tuttle. And thank goodness for the generosity of our readers. You are all doing your bit to rally round, and it is not too late to donate. Now it is central government’s turn. Over to you Westminster and Whitehall.
Priority was given to those who were over the age of 70, families with young children, people with physical or learning difficulties, those with mental health issues and people on low incomes.
A similar system will be put in place in Norfolk and Waveney with council leaders from North Norfolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney working on a revised plan over the weekend.
“What we want is to get stuck in and help our communities at the time they need us most,” said Mr Pickover. “We want to make a difference, quickly.
“We have been astonished and humbled by the overwhelming response to our appeal. In difficult times, our readers have once again dug deep to make a real and immediate difference to people in their time of need.”
The appeal – currently running at £73,000 – has been boosted by a £7,500 donation from Archant. Chief executive, Adrian Jeakings, said: “When people in the communities which we serve with our publications are affected in such a devastating way we want to do all we can to help them.”
n Work clearing damaged beach hut debris from Cromer’s east promenade will begin next week – during which time the area will be closed off to the public.
North Norfolk District Council said work would start at 7.30am on Tuesday, December 17, and is expected to take three days.
Access will not be permitted on the east prom between the Doctor’s Steps and the Rocket House from 7.30am on Monday, December 16 – to allow for skips to be delivered – and Friday, December 20.
The steps will be cordoned off at the top. Local fisherman will be advised to keep the access clear during this time.
The council reminded members of the public to take care along the coastline, and to respect any cordons still in place.
n The RSPCA’s East Winch Wildlife Centre, near King’s Lynn, has received £25,000 to help care for the pups, which have been separated from their mothers.
The centre is currently caring for nearly 100 seals after some were transferred to other RSPCA wildlife centres in Cheshire and Somerset since being washed up last week along the Norfolk coast.