Dear ‘Santa’ David Cameron - what Norfolk wants in 2012

Father Christmas, in the form of David Cameron, today receives one final wish list from Norfolk on the eve of the big day.

And if he can deliver a sack of presents including an A47 upgrade, Joint Strike Fighter jets for RAF Marham and better broadband, then he will be close to fulfilling the county's hopes and dreams for 2012.

But while the EDP still accepts Father Christmas exists, prime minister David Cameron and his coalition government are the people better placed to satisfy our desires.

Today we bring you messages to the government from council bosses, the NHS, charities, police and other leading community figures about what they would like to see happen in the next 12 months,

The public sector will continue to make cuts following a reduction in government spending while the private sector attempts to rally in tough economic conditions.

But while recognising life is hard at the moment, officials still harbour aspirations for Norfolk. These are expected to help the region survive and, in many cases, thrive.

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Elected police commissioners, council services, the NHS and Europe will feature heavily throughout 2012.

RAF Marham's future will also become clearer and there is hope among thousands of supporters that Norwich City will continue their stunning resurgence in the Premier League.

It is a wish list like no other that Father Christmas, in this case David Cameron, will receive this year.

Derrick Murphy, Norfolk County Council leader, said: 'One thing we have been cam-paigning across the county for is called the Fair Fares campaign, which is to get the �4.5m shortfall paid to make sure we can properly run the concessionary bus fares system.

'We want to make sure the Joint Strike Fighter jets come to RAF Marham to replace the Tornado. That decision will be made in the spring.

'We would like the A47 upgrading and that leads on from the great news of funding for the Northern Distributor Road (NDR), north of Norwich.

'I just hope the Local Enterprise Partnership, of which the county council is an integral part, brings more jobs to Norfolk. My aim is to bring as many jobs to the area working with the government.'

The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham James, said: 'I could list a host of countries where I hope there will be increased peace and stability in 2012 – Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan among them. But the most serious dangers to our world often come from unexpected sources. I hope for a bit less of the unexpected in the coming year.

'The Church is local, national and international. In the diocese of Norwich our established links with Papua New Guinea, Lulea in Sweden and Koblenz in Germany keep developing. I hope to see them flourish even more. They widen our horizons.

'I also hope Norwich City finish the season in the top half of the Premier League. And a dream? European football at Carrow Road again would be thrilling for this fine city!'

Glynn Burrows, owner of Norfolk Tours, said: 'My wish list could be many pages long, but I have tried to condense it – that councils and government start living in the real world and work like businesses, stop with the top-heavy management structures, start using common sense and stop wasting our money.

'As someone who used to work in local government, I saw the wastage and stupidity first hand.

'The scale of wastage went from many tens of thousands of pounds restructuring and moving offices, just so managers had something to talk about in their meetings, to silly little things like the throwing out of perfectly good suspension files one week and then the ordering of new ones the next week.

'There seems to be a complete lack of common sense in all government, both national and local.'

Keith Skipper, EDP columnist and Norfolk dialect expert, said: 'What I would like is to land a part in a traditional panto-mime. The role I would choose is the genie in Aladdin. I love to get on everyone's wick when they rub me up the wrong way!

'What I would say to David Cameron is please, please would you instruct your disciples in this part of the world to leave Norfolk alone and stop imposing thousands and thousands of houses and road improvements that we don't need. It has an impact on Norfolk's character.

'Anything that brings jobs or cuts journey times down by 2.9 seconds must be good for the county!

'Why does Mr Cameron keep ignoring my Christmas messages? I just find it mad that more is seen as better.'

Rob Whitwood, vice-chairman of the North Norfolk branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: 'I think the govern-ment needs to continue to back investment in infrastructure such as broadband and road networks.

'Businesses by their nature are entrepreneurial and driven but they need an infrastructure that they can use to engage with their customers and grow. Through this the region, especially north Norfolk, will grow.

'The current projects around broadband and the newly announced go ahead for the NDR are absolutely crucial during 2012, especially with 2012 set to be challenging year for a lot of businesses.'

Graham Tuttle, director of the Norfolk Commu-nity Foundation, said: 'The creation of meaningful strategy and funding that will allow Norfolk Community Foun-dation and the local voluntary sector to engage in the support of young people, particularly the vulnerable, in their aspirations for training and employment.

'This is such an important issue for the young people, for the county of Norfolk and for the country as a whole and, therefore, funding which could be used to incentivise local businesses and individuals to come together to address this problem could only be good news.

'The government could and must consider doing more to sustain and grow the voluntary and community sector in recognition of what it delivers in a rural county such as Norfolk. This is especially true for youth provision and other areas that have been affected most by the public sector cuts.'

Norfolk Police Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: 'I am confident that we will be able to continue delivering a quality service to the people of Norfolk while we reduce our resources and shrink the organisation. We will be flexible, adaptable and agile.

'Next year, we look forward to the challenges of policing some of the greatest spectacles of 2012 – the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games – including the torch relay. Our officers will proudly provide support to some of the host venues and I share the excitement of being part of something which promises to be special.

'Next year is likely to be equally demanding for us all but, working with you, we'll be aiming to keep Norfolk one of the lowest crime counties in the country.'

Ian Thornton, director of the Norwich City Community Sports Foundation, said: 'The coming year sees the return of the Street Life Soccer project for the homeless and vulnerably housed, thanks to Big Lottery funding.

'The foundation's Sporting Light Appeal began in March and the fundraising efforts to support disadvantaged and disabled people across Norfolk will continue in 2012 with a representative team set to run in the Virgin London Marathon. Iwan Roberts, David McNally and eight others will form 'Team Norwich City' and raise money to help towards the appeal's overall target of �50,000.

'As with any charity, the foundation is dependent on the help of volunteers and fundraisers and is continuously looking for those who wish to support the official charity partner of Norwich City FC, with time or donations.

'Local businesses have the opportunity to get involved with the foundation by sponsoring programmes and initiatives or by becoming a business champion for the Sporting Light Appeal.'

Dr Jenny Harries, joint director of public health for NHS Norfolk and Waveney and Norfolk County Council, said: 'The news is dominated right now by the ongoing economic crisis. We know that losing your job or never having had regular paid work is linked to significantly poorer health. Winter also brings additional pressures.

'But I want none of us to forget that the biggest asset we each have is our existing level of health. We all need to focus on preserving and improving that. Healthcare services will never be able to meet all the increasing demands currently on the system. We can't stop the population getting older but we can support the population to get healthier.

'During 2012 NHS Norfolk and Waveney public health experts will be moving to Norfolk County Council under NHS reforms.

'This will give us wider opportunities to work with our professional colleagues, communities and their elected representatives on developing services and environments which help people to improve their health.'

Phil Wells, Age UK Norwich chief executive, said: 'What I would like for Christmas is a land fit for heroes. I would like to live in a country where people in their 80s and 90s are recognised for the hard work they have put in and the hard times they have endured.

'I would like a country in which people are supported to stay in contact with the community as age begins to limit their options; where neighbours expect to lend a hand to iron out those small challenges that undermine independence in later life; where carers are respected – and rewarded – for the important work they do.

'I would like later life to be one in which I have time to pass on my knowledge to the younger generations and discover from them what new things are happening.'

George Freeman, Mid Norfolk MP, said: 'While 2012 looks set to be another hard year economically as we pay off the debts of the last decade, here are some highlights I'm looking forward to: a business and export-led economic recovery strengthen, with more new high growth businesses, job opportunities and apprenticeships for Norfolk school leavers; continued recognition and support from government for infrastructure to unlock the potential of the Norfolk economy to help a UK recovery; recognition of the A47 as a key route that needs dualling, and upgrade of the Norwich-Cambridge rail link; some relief in the Budget for rural families, pensioners and businesses from rising fuel and energy costs; first steps in roll-out of fast broadband to Norfolk; the Canaries staying up; and an end to the roll-call of casualties and injuries to our brave troops in Afghanistan.'

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