Dereham’s re-elected councillors on their priorities for the town
- Credit: Adam Lazzari
On May 6, Dereham re-elected its two county councillors, Conservatives Phillip Duigan and William Richmond, for a further term of office.
We asked them what their plans were for Dereham in the coming four years.
Considering his priorities for Dereham South, Mr Duigan said combatting flooding was among the most important.
“We’ve got to think of surface water flooding as much as people in Yarmouth or King's Lynn will be thinking of coastal water flooding,” said Mr Duigan.
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Asked whether Dereham’s drainage infrastructure needed replacing, Mr Duigan said: “I think it does need looking at, to see, but a lot of it could be just making sure that the existing infrastructure is working as well as it can.
“We need to pin down the reasons why [places flood] and then ensure that the actions are kept in mind four or five years down the line."
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On transport, Mr Duigan pledged to continue working towards dualling the A47.
He said: “Hopefully we’ll also get what’s known as the Western Link in, because that would leave Dereham much more connected to Norwich, which will have benefits, and challenges.
“One of the challenges will be that Dereham will become an even more attractive place for people who work in Norwich to live, but hopefully it will also make it more attractive for firms to come and locate in Dereham.”
Mr Duigan said he was also interested in ensuring young people had access to good vocational training, as an alternative to university.
“If Dereham wants to get better jobs in, we get into a catch-22 situation - where employers won’t come because they can’t get the quality of staff they want, but at the moment, people in Dereham won’t go on to do those higher [vocational] qualifications,” he said.
In addition, Mr Duigan said he would look at bus links to the smaller villages.
He said: “Rural buses are an important thing, which need encouraging. It’s the one of the things I’ll be looking at, but probably the rural councillors will be looking at further.
“One of the problems with the bus passes is that they’re not much use unless you have a bus!”
In Dereham North, Mr Richmond said that he hoped to have 20mph advisory part-time speed limits outside the high schools and sixth form college.
“Scarning Primary School already has one of these, as does [the back entrance to] Northgate High School,” said Mr Richmond.
“Neatherd High School is next this year. The front of Northgate High School, and Dereham Sixth Form College, will hopefully follow in due course.”
He caveated however: “This is dependent on the support of Dereham Town Council via the county council’s parish partnership scheme.”
Mr Richmond is also prioritising the introduction of zebra crossings on Quebec Road and Cemetery Road.
He said the part-time speed limit introduced for Northgate School “has suppressed speeds sufficiently on Quebec Road to make a zebra crossing feasible.”
He added: “A new zebra crossing is conditioned for Cemetery Road as part of the outline planning permission for the Swanton Road development. This needs to be seen through to the reserved matters planning application.”
Bus shelters were another key priority.
“New bus shelters have been installed on Dereham Road, Scarning and Highfield Road and Norwich Road in Dereham in the last year,” said Mr Richmond.
“Two further shelters are due to be installed in 2021 on Dereham Road, Scarning, opposite the church; and Norwich Road, Dereham, near the Crown Road junction,” he added.
Mr Richmond also listed improvements to public rights of way as a focus.
“Works by the county council to Shillings Lane on the Neatherd Moor, near Etling View, are due to start this year,” he said.
“Funding of £24,000 from the parish partnership scheme and the local member budget has been put towards this.
“As part of the developer contributions for an additional 62 dwellings at Etling View, Taylor Wimpey will also work on a section of Shillings Lane. I will be considering improvements to other public rights of way in due course.”
Mr Richmond explained that councillors’ local member budgets have increased from £6,000 to £10,000, and are spent on environmental projects.
“I will put the local member budget towards new signs, road markings, bus shelters and footways over the next four years,” he said.