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My Norwich

Citizen - winter 2020

Published 6 November 2020

Message from the leader, Alan Waters

I've been thinking about picket fences. I was remembering  advice that American President Lyndon Johnson gave to fellow politicians in the 1960s, around the vitalness of ‘keeping the picket fence painted’. To summarise: whatever you achieve in Washington, never forget the importance
of keeping your own home in its best state.

In this country, local government and national government are deeply entwined. Both have a democratic mandate granted through the ballot box. This gives them the authority, through elected representatives– members of parliament at Westminster and councillors in town halls – to support their citizens.

Local councils like Norwich are very much at the ‘picket fence’ end of the business of government, and have been key partners with central government in tackling the ongoing pandemic. In addition to public health protection, councils have acted as the pipeline through which a wide range of support grants have been distributed. Our local knowledge has been vital in supporting our local communities and planning for the city’s long-term recovery.

The winter issue of Citizen highlights just how important thinking ‘local’ is. A strong democracy depends on high levels of community activity and partnership working. The progress report on shaping the future of the city through ‘Norwich 2040’ is a striking example of just that. Our promise is that the picket fence of Norwich will always be freshly painted.

This issue of Citizen highlights the many unique threads that weave their way through the daily life of the city and contribute to our individual sense of place within it.

Wishing you all a happy Christmas and very best wishes for the new year.

News in brief

EU Settlement Scheme

If you are a European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EAA) or Swiss citizen, you and your family will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.

You will be able to make an application to get either settled or pre-settled status. For information on who is required to apply, what you need to make an application and  a step by step guide to the process, visit www.gov.uk/eusettledstatus

Those classed as vulnerable can get additional support when applying. Visit the government's EU Settlement Scheme pages for more details.

Community fund set up to tackle antisocial behaviour

The Safer Neighbourhoods Initiative community fund has been set up  by  the city council to help fund practical solutions to problems relating to crime, anti-social behaviour and community safety.

It can fund up to 95 per cent of the cost of measures such as alley gates, communal fencing and security lighting in communities across the city.

Applications are invited from residents and community groups. The work must benefit more than one household/property. For more information or to submit an expression of interest, visit www.norwich.gov.uk/communutyfund. The deadline is 30 January 2021.

Success and next steps or mutual aid groups

We were happy to see the substantial impact made by local mutual aid groups during the pandemic. These local groups made a huge difference through supporting each other within their neighbourhoods, and we’d like to thank everyone involved for their vital contributions.

Groups carried out a range of vital functions including delivering practical support such as food deliveries, dog walking, virtual quizzes, and sharing relevant information with those who may have otherwise been difficult to contact.

If you’re interested in establishing your own hyper-local community group, please visit www.lumi.org.uk or email community@norwich.gov.uk

Norwich Castle reborn

You may have seen fencing, scaffolding or even a crane appear in recent weeks at the castle. This is as work to transform the iconic keep by rebuilding its medieval floors and rooms – to give visitors an experience of a Norman royal palace – is underway.

There will also be a new visitor entrance, café and shop. To find out more about this exciting £13.5m National Heritage Fund project, visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

Working together to counter Covid-19

Our council-wide response to Covid-19 continues to evolve and adapt to the constantly changing landscape posed by the pandemic.

Emerging from the full UK lockdown created a range of new challenges for the city council – as well as fresh opportunities.

At the time of writing, Covid cases had risen sharply in Norwich which saw it record the highest number in Norfolk based on the number of cases per 100,000 people. In response, Alan Waters, leader of the city council, called on residents for a citywide response to bring the numbers down and protect Norwich.

Alan Waters, leader of the council, said: “I’m immensely proud of the city council and all that it does, and will continue to do, for its residents, businesses and some of the most vulnerable in our communities. Times ahead will be really tough for lots of people but collectively I’m confident we can face those challenges head-on.”

Below is a flavour of how we’ve helped residents and businesses as well as some of the most vulnerable in our communities, and what’s coming up.

  • In the middle of October some 20 Covid-19 support officers took to the city centre to advise the public and businesses about working together to drive down the number of Covid cases in the city.
     
  • We reintroduced many of our services, albeit with Covid-secure measures and restrictions in place. These included all our car parks, play areas, Riverside Leisure Centre, The Norman Centre, Norwich Market and Tourist Information Centre.
     
  • We worked with the county council to support some of our most hard-hit businesses by introducing road closures and better measures for sustainable travel on St Benedicts Street and Exchange Street (see page 9 for more details).
     
  • We worked with partners to set up a brand new online process designed to award up to £500 for those in need of a support payment to allow them to self-isolate.
     
  • Our finance experts have been working alongside cabinet members to prepare for the months ahead so we can keep essential services running and set a balanced and fair budget at February’s budget council (see page 14 for more information).
     
  • Further ahead lies the local elections – due to take place on the first Thursday in May 2021 when the usual one-third of seats (13 out of 39) come up for election.

Lilian Armitage charity

Are you an older woman living in the area covered by the city council? Are you living on a low income? Do you have health problems? Are there things you need, such as household appliances or help with mobility?
 
The charity gives grants towards things like kitchen appliances, decorating jobs, mobility scooters, stair-lifts and short holidays.

Don’t miss your chance for a friendly helping hand!
 
To find out more, or make an application, get in touch with David Fullman: t: 01603 626024 e: davidfull@aol.com

Christmas all wrapped up for you

Christmas switch-on… We’re urging all Norwich residents to get involved in our Covid- friendly Christmas celebrations!

The ongoing Covid guidance means we can’t hold a public event to celebrate our Christmas lights being switched on this year, but we’re inviting everyone
to get involved in other ways. And of course, you can still visit the city and admire the lights, even without the big event!

Along with our friends at Norwich BID, we’re encouraging the whole city to switch on their home lights and Christmas decorations at the same time and #LightNorwichTogether!

Check out our website to find out when we’ll be getting things started. We’re hoping to have some special guests to help us make any announcements, so keep your eyes peeled.
 
Our new ‘selfie with an elfie’ trail - We’re also very excited to be organising a special ‘selfie with an elfie’ trail this year!

Many of our cultural venues in Norwich have been adversely affected by Covid-19, with most unable to open or deliver their usual events programme in the same way.

To help spread some much- needed Christmas cheer, we’ll be placing some elven friends at several of these locations across the city.

If you can snap ‘em all, we’ll enter you into a special prize draw to win some goodies – so get your’elves involved!

Keep an eye on our website and social media feed for more information – the fun will be beginning in December.

Norwich Market has it all this Christmas

Everyone has their ‘go-to’ stalls on Norwich Market – whether it’s Shoes and Keys to fix your best boots, PDP Fashions to have your trousers taken up, Norwich Electricals for its vast collection of vacuum or cooker spares or Herbs and Spices whenever a recipe calls for smoked paprika or Turkish figs.

In the lead-up to this festive season, why not lose yourself on Norwich Market and discover some of the gems you may have missed? We’re pretty sure it’ll have everything you need for your table, gifts, even what to wear.

Get yourself selfie-ready with a trip to barbers Kojak’s, Downtown Cuts; or Mama B’s Brows and Shadez Nails. Rummage the rails of Andersons, Angels in the Wood, Lovering and Co, Slayyy Vintage, Supply, and Taxi Vintage Clothing for outfits. Himalayan Treasures and The Other Curator are a must for anyone looking for the quirky or boho.

Sir Toby’s Beers and Substrata will make sure your Christmas lunch table has only the best tipples on it – and with their extensive ranges, there’s sure to be a spot-on gift to suit any taste.

You can also get your door wreath, mistletoe, table centre- pieces or decorative plants if you pop along to Botanical, Cary’s, or Pond’s Flowers.

Birchley’s Loose Leaf Tea, City Fish, CJ’s Fruit and Veg, Mike, Debs and Sons, Paul’s Family Butchers, Pickering’s, The Cheeseman, The Orient Express and The Little Red Roaster have got you covered, whatever your favourite food and drinks are.

Where to even start with gifts?! Norwich Goldsmiths and Oliva’s are jewellery treasure troves and do engraving, to make an item extra special. Canary Comics and OSG are a collector’s and gamer’s dream. Even your pooch isn’t left out with a trip to Joe’s Pets. hen wrap all your gifts with paper from Harvey’s.

When you’re tired from all that shopping And Eat It and The Cuppie Hut have the tastiest treats for a pick-me-up; and our fingers are crossed that battered mince pies will be making a reappearance at Lucy’s this year!

Even if Christmas isn’t your thing, don’t forget all the delicious tastes on offer, ranging from Asian inspired eats at Bun Box, A Taste of Punjab and Indian Feast. Spanish and South American flavours from Churros for the People and Cocina Mia. Then there’s breakfast, bangers, curries, kebabs, pies, pastries, pasta and peas, falafels, wraps, roasts, spuds and so much more!

Why go anywhere else?

Are you election ready?

Our election team has been busy with the ‘annual canvass,’which means working to ensure the electoral register (a list of those eligible to vote in the city) is as up to date as possible.

You might not know this, but it’s a legal requirement for us to carry out the annual canvass and for you to respond to us if we ask you to. Anyone who doesn’t reply to our initial attempts at contact, which could be via email, phone or letter, will get a visit from one of our friendly team. This year, we are visiting around 9,000 households in Norwich wearing full PPE to get the information we need.

We will be writing to all households in January with full details of who is currently on the electoral register, as well as letting you know more about the local election due to take place next May. It’s likely there will be changes to the voting procedure, so look out for more on this in the coming months.

If you are not on the electoral register, please go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and follow instructions. If you’re not sure email elections@norwich.gov.uk and we can check for you.

Prefer to vote by post?

Anyone can sign up to be a postal voter – you don’t need a reason, so long as you are on the electoral register.

We’ll be sending out a letter in November to all those not yet registered for a postal vote, with an application form, alternatively you can apply for a postal vote on our website.

Providing support and advice

Whoever you are – whether you’re a single person, have a family, are a small business owner or employee of a large company – you’ll have had your life touched in some way by Covid-19.

If you have concerns – whether it’s about your business, your accommodation or paying your council tax – it’s important that you’re aware of the support and advice that’s available. Visit www.norwich.gov.uk/coronavirus for help and guidance.

For anyone who is struggling financially, Norfolk Community Advice Network can offer free, independent advice on a wide range of issues, such as benefits and managing debt.

Support for businesses

Support for businesses The way businesses have responded to the pandemic has been remarkable. Many, even micro ones – such as some of the traders on Norwich Market – have been able to adapt their services, such as providing online or telephone ordering and collection and delivery services.

They’ve also worked incredibly hard to make, and keep, premises Covid-secure – making sure the safety of employees and customers is top priority.

While the situation continues to develop, and businesses continue to face challenges, knowing where to turn for advice and support can be invaluable.

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership is on hand to provide free, impartial support and advice. Find out more:
www.newanglia.co.uk
t: 0300 333 6536
e: growthhub@newanglia.co.uk

Support for the vulnerable

If you’re classed as vulnerable and in need of support, please visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/coronavirus or contact the county council’s designated phone line on 0344 800 8020 where help will be available.

Volunteering

If you want to volunteer, find out more by visiting the Voluntary Norfolk website.

Creating space in the city centre

In response to the need to make sure people are able to maintain a good distance from each other so they feel safe and secure in the city centre, the city and county council worked together to make space on narrow streets.

Exchange Street (pictured) and St Benedicts Street have seen traffic restricted, and a widening of space for pedestrians and cyclists. The scheme had the added benefit of providing an opportunity for businesses on St Benedicts Street to set up outdoor seating to help maximise customer space – seen by many as a lifeline after a long period of closure and the challenges of social distancing.

External funding was also won by the city council to make refinements and improvements to the physical barriers on-street – such as installing attractive planters and railings – so they do justice to Norwich’s historic, yet dynamic, streets.

Your recycling Christmas list

Reduce your waste

There are a number of ways you can reduce your waste. From buying products with less packaging and only buying what you need, to planning your meals and using your freezer wisely. There are tips for reducing waste on our website or you can visit the Love food hate waste website.

Swot up on your recycling

Putting the right thing in the right bin reduces contamination and saves us all money. Find out what goes in your general waste bin, what you can recycle and all about food caddies and garden waste on our website.

Feed your caddy

If you have a food waste caddy, please keep filling it with leftovers from your meals, tea bags and coffee grounds, pet food, cooking oil, lard and other fats (large quantities of cooking oil need to be put in a plastic bottle by the side of your food caddy). If you don’t yet have a free food waste caddy, why not contact us to order one?

They’re collected weekly and are great for the environment, as the food waste is turned into biogas and biofertilizer.

Order a free food caddy.

For more information about waste and recycling in Norwich, visit our bins and recycling pages

Make sure your recycling is clean, dry and don’t bag it

All recycling should be rinsed out, left to dry (so it doesn’t ruin other recycling by getting it wet) and put loose into your blue bin. Please don’t put your
recycling in plastic bags, as it won’t be able to go through the sorting process at the recycling plant.

Recycle your small electricals

Put out your small electricals in a carrier bag beside your waste or recycling bin by 7am on your collection day. Items accepted in this collection include toasters, hairdryers, kettles, power tools and chargers. You can also put batteries out for collection – please place them in a separate carrier bag to the small electricals.

Find a new life for your textiles

Clean, dry textiles can go in a standard sized carrier bag next to your waste or recycling bin by 7am on the day of collection. As well as clothes and shoes (tied in pairs), you can also put out old towels, sheets, blankets and other household linen and fabrics. These all go to a company that send the good quality textiles overseas and make new items out of those not suitable for reuse.

Your Christmas and new year collection dates

Normal collection day Festive collection day
Friday 25 December Tuesday 29 December
Monday 28 December Wednesday 30 December
Tuesday 29 December Thursday 31 December
Wednesday 30 December Saturday 2 January
Thursday 31 December Monday 4 January
Friday 1 January Tuesday 5 January
Monday 4 January Wednesday 6 January
Tuesday 5 January Thursday 7 January
Wednesday 6 January Friday 8 January
Thursday 7 January Saturday 9 January
Friday 8 January Monday 11 January
Monday 11 January Tuesday 12 January
Tuesday 12 January Wednesday 13 January
Wednesday 13 January Thursday 14 January
Thursday 14 January Friday 15 January
Friday 15 January Saturday 16 January

How we're shaping the future of Norwich

The Norwich 2040 City Vision represents a shared commitment between local businesses, voluntary sector organisations, the city council, our schools and universities and its residents as we all work towards long term ambitions for the city.
 
The vision has never been more important in shaping our future as a city. With the additional challenges presented by Covid-19, there is a need to work more intensively. A newly formed ‘city vision Covid-19 recovery group’ is working together to understand the impact the pandemic has had, and continues to have on Norwich, and is also considering how to keep us on track to reach our ambition of Norwich 2040: the best place to be.

Members will act as champions for the city as they hold important interlocking links with key partnerships and organisations across the city, as well as the wider vision network. The group includes representatives from key partnerships such as:

  • Norwich 2040 Cultural Compact Board
  • Good Economy Commission
  • Norwich 2040 Healthy Norwich
  • Norfolk Equality and Human Rights Council
  • Norfolk Housing Alliance
  • Norwich Business Leaders Climate Group
  • Norwich Opportunity Area
  • Norwich Town Deals Board
  • Norwich Youth Advisory Board
  • VCSE Leadership Group

The wider vision network is made up of a variety of businesses, statutory agencies, education facilities, VSCE sector organisations, community groups and communities of interest from across the city. Going forward, the recovery group will engage more widely with the vision network to ensure future plans are comprehensive, well informed and inclusive and also so the city feels connected to recovery and the vision.

The group will meet every other month with focus areas for future meetings to include: Covid-19 recovery plans progress; becoming a sustainable city; inequality
in light of Covid-19; diversity in the city; mental health and wellbeing; cultural strategy for Norwich; Norwich’s digital divide during and after Covid-19; the future of the city centre.

Keep an eye on our vision pages for updates and opportunities to engage.

Preventing eviction in the private sector

Norwich landlords are being urged to do all they can to support tenants who may be struggling to pay their rent due to the pandemic.

As a housing authority for the city, we are committed to making sure tenants’ rights are protected along with supporting landlords to maintain tenancies wherever possible.

Cabinet member responsible for private sector housing, Councillor Beth Jones said: “We recognise that like their tenants, many city landlords are also experiencing financial hardship due to Covid-19 and appreciate everything they have done so far to support tenants during this difficult time.

“We urge Norwich landlords to continue to show flexibility and support to tenants whose income has been affected by coronavirus and to see eviction as an absolute last resort.

“If you’re unable to come to an agreement with your tenant to help them stay on, please urge them to get in contact with us, or do so yourself, so we can assist.”

Visit our Help and support for tenants and landlords pages.

High demand for homes built by council-owned housing company

The council’s commitment to building quality, affordable, spacious and energy efficient homes in areas of the city where they’re most needed is paying off as more homes are completed and sold at the new Rayne Park development in Bowthorpe.

A total of 31 houses were put onto the open market in July this year, with all now sold subject to contract – the majority snapped up by first time buyers.

The homes are being built by the council’s wholly owned property development company – Norwich Regeneration Company, which was set up to enable the council to fulfil its commitment to providing high quality and affordable housing for the city.

Working in this way allows the council to ensure properties meet the needs of Norwich residents. Nearly a quarter of the total 110 houses built so far have been added to the council’s social housing stock, and a proportion let to tenants through our Home Options scheme – a banding system which allows us to prioritise housing allocation to those with the greatest need.

As part of the council’s drive to provide eco-efficient homes, all the properties at Rayne Park have either been built to Passivhaus standards or been Passivhaus certified – as seen in the council’s award-winning Goldsmith Street development which won the prestigious Stirling Prize in 2019.

The council's finances: how we're managing

In our special summer issue of Citizen magazine, we gave an update on the council’s financial picture. At that point, we’d received £1.5m of Covid-19 funding from the government and had forecast an overspend of around £7m.

Increased spending costs on housing rough sleepers, providing food for vulnerable people, and enabling council staff to work efficiently from home – combined with a loss of income from car parks and commercial rents – have all contributed to the current financial situation.

While keeping up with the changing demands of the pandemic, and providing key services, a lot of work is being done to review spending commitments and identify savings. This has included cancelling some of the key events we host, and savings on recruitment, training, travel and supplies.

This has brought the projected overspend to date to £1.3m. Due to recent careful budget management and prudent investment decisions, the council will be able to draw on reserves to meet the current year shortfall.

With the impact of Covid expected to continue into next year, and demand on local services going up, the pressure on council finances will remain.
Leader of the council, Councillor Alan Waters, said: “Government ministers said they would fully compensate local government for the financial impacts of Covid. Yet, despite these assurances, we are having to take £3m out of council budgets and still face an overspend.

“Some councils have publicly stated that if they don’t receive more money soon, they will effectively have to declare themselves bankrupt.“Thankfully, because of
the way we’ve managed our budgets through a decade of austerity, Norwich is not in that position. However, I’m calling on the government to provide further funding to see councils through the challenging times ahead”.

Later in the year we’ll be launching our budget consultation, which is an important way for the people across the city to help shape spending priorities for the year ahead.

Visit our consultations page to read more and find out how you can give your views.

Your winter wellbeing

With more people in their homes than ever before, here’s how you can stay warm and well this winter:

  • Join Roar Power, our council-run energy provider. We offer renewable energy at pocket- friendly prices. Find us online to see how much you could save. 
  • There’s also the potential to save even more by registering for the Big Switch and Save. Don’t stay put on expensive standard offers.
  • Get great value solar and battery via our Solar Together scheme.
  • Get your home insulated. The council’s Cosy City scheme can help you find out more about home energy grants.

 We are able to support anyone affected by fuel poverty. Contact us if you need assistance, or know somebody who might, by emailing cosycity@norwich.gov.uk

Important council services coming back in-house - tell us what you think

The city council has recently agreed on how and when it’s going to bring a number of key services back under direct council control.

In recent years our environmental services, property services, and building maintenance and repairs service, have been delivered via joint venture agreements with Norse.

These services have been delivered under the banners of Norwich Norse Environmental (NNE), NPS Norwich and Norwich Norse Building (NNB) respectively, but we have decided to bring these services back into our own control.

Our property services function will come back directly to the council in 2022, while the remaining two will be placed into a wholly-owned limited company that we have recently set up. This is called Norwich City Services Ltd.

Environmental services will move to the new company in April 2021, with the building maintenance and repairs service to follow in 2022.

Our primary reason for bringing these services back is that we want greater control and flexibility over how they are delivered in the future.

We are not planning any major changes to service delivery, but once they are successfully integrated we will consider any adjustments or improvements we can make to how they are delivered.

We would really appreciate any views about the changes to the management of these services, and will gladly take any suggestions on board.

Let us know what you think by emailing involvement@norwich.gov.uk