Dear Boris: A letter from Norfolk on why you should ignore us at your peril
PUBLISHED: 12:06 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:42 23 July 2019
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Editor David Powles has this to say to new Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
I'll keep the congratulations on being selected as this country's Prime Minister short and sweet. Hopefully you know as much as anyone there is lots of work to get on with.
I'm writing to you on behalf of the fine county of Norfolk with some thoughts on how you might best serve an area which at times feels a little bit neglected by the Whitehall powers that be.
More of that later, because firstly we need to get the B-word out of the way. Of course I mean Brexit. Like so many other parts of the country I detect a wide-scale feeling we've all had enough of it by now.
No matter how people voted, the people I speak to, or whom write to our letters pages, are generally fed-up and desperate for a way forward to emerge.
Of some concern is that increasingly businesses in Norfolk have highlighted the negative impact the current paralysis is having on their companies. People aren't spending or investing and if it's allowed to go on for much longer there are real fears the implications could be serious. It needs to be sorted.
As no doubt you are aware, Norfolk, and to some extent the whole region, is something of a stronghold for Conservative support. Take away south Norwich and North Norfolk and it's a sea of blue.
I sometimes fear this may have led to a bit of complacency, which then translates into less investment of time and money into the area. Do you and your colleagues concentrate more on seats that are either at risk or up for grabs, instead of somewhere you feel is a safe haven?
If that is the case I implore upon you to be the Prime Minister who changes that perception.
The latest statistics show that both Norfolk and Suffolk perform reasonably well in terms of the value they add to the overall economy of the country. However, there is a feeling we could do so much more and that increased investment from central government would be paid back in spades.
Take the current A47 campaign to get the road fully dualled. It's been proven time and time again that a poor road infrastructure is not only holding back our existing firms, it's even forcing some to leave the country completely.
The cash to fully dual that road would open up areas like Great Yarmouth, with its harbour, the east coast in terms of expanding wind farms and other areas for business in general. The positive impact could be massive and while your party helped fund the A11 several years ago, that is not enough. We need more so Norfolk's economy can truly flourish and that massive potential be met.
But this is only one area of Norfolk life I believe you and your colleagues need to concentrate on.
For way too long now our mental health services have struggled and still no improvement appears to be on the horizon. Some say that by covering both Norfolk and Suffolk it is too big a challenge to make work. Others that a lack of investment hampers it.
All I know is that scores of hard-working mental health staff are struggling with massive workloads which ultimately mean the needy miss out on care. This is leading to lives being lost and needs resolving urgently.
As do the problems at our hospitals in general. All of them full to the brim with staff working overtime on a daily basis. That's particularly the case at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, built some years ago with good intentions - but nowhere near enough space or staff to cope with the increase in population Norfolk has experienced.
We also have the complications of being the country's oldest county to contend with. I can completely understand why people choose to grow old here. It's beautiful, calm and generally safe. But our public bodies need the cash to provide the services these people require.
This is just a snapshot. There are other issues our readers get concerned about. These include the best way for Norfolk to govern itself, the need for housing growth to be balanced with a desire to keep Norfolk special, growing deprivation in certain areas of the county and a nagging fear certain types of crime may be on the rise.
Perhaps someday soon you will make it here, I'd recommend one of our new 90 minute trains, to see and hear about these problems yourself?
I wish you good luck - you may need it!
Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News