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Summary

  1. Updates for Friday, 28 April, 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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That's it for our debate

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

We've now completed our coverage of this morning's live local election debate on BBC Radio Norfolk.

Scroll down to catch up with the issues that have been raised, and the responses they've elicited.

We'll resume our "normal" service on Norfolk Live after 14:00 - see you there.

General shot of the radio studio, with all five councillors, radio presenter and Andrew Sinclair
BBC

Coalition plans after Norfolk election?

Nic Rigby

BBC News

A BBC Radio Norfolk listener asked the panel who they would go into coalition with if they didn't have a majority on the council.

Roger Bearman (Green) said: "We will do our best to influence whatever alliance, but sticking to Green Party policy. We offered our support to the Conservatives last time if they canceled the incinerator. I am not going to say who we may go into alliance with. It is up to the electorate."

Richard Bearman
BBC

Cliff Jordan (Conservative) said: "Everything depends on numbers. If I am short of a majority and I am still leader of the Conservatives then I would go into negotiations. Four years is a long time to go into partnership with anyone."

Cliff Jordan (Conservative)
BBC

Denis Crawford (UKIP) said: "I would be willing to go into an informal alliance with any group. Some things we would wish to see such as a continuance of the committee system. You have got to be open-minded."  

Denis Crawford (UKIP)
BBC

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "Obviously the council has to be run by somebody if the biggest party does not have a majority then someone has to form an administration either with the single party or with other parties. I have 84 candidates and expect the people to give us a majority."

George Nobbs (Labour)
BBC

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem) said: "The word coalition has dogged my party. I saw the party (national party) join the coalition (government with the Conservative) and knew there was only one way it was going to go. But there is a difference between a formal coalition and an alliance."

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem)
BBC

The councillors tell us why we should vote for them

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

Cliff Jordan (Conservative) said: "I hope everybody votes Conservative... our manifesto says there's no ifs or buts, we are genuinely going to look after frontline services... everybody uses them, it doesn't matter whether they're children or adults, they still need the core services... and we also need economic development.

"The financial climate is not good, we've got to be very careful on how we spend and target resources and we've got to manage our resources properly."

Cliff Jordan in radio studio
BBC

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem) said: "We'll campaign to integrate health and social care services... we'll put pressure on Clinical Commissioning Groups to commit a larger proportion of their resources to mental health services... keep children's centres open, support mobile libraries, promote council policy of recovering damage caused by vehicles to roads, set up a community speedwatch team in every village, promote super centres for recycling, and make sure bodies working for flood management are working in a strategic way."

Steffan Aquarone in radio studio
BBC

Richard Bearman (Green) said: "With the Greens you'll get community councils who understand their locality well... but our particular issue at the moment is air quality in towns and cities... I think the government is deliberately suppressing a national report on what they're going to do to tackle air pollution in this country at the moment and it's going to be a problem for Norwich, for other parts of Norfolk, and if we don't do something then future generations are going to have real health problems."

Richard Bearman in radio studio
BBC

Denis Crawford (UKIP) said: "Our main policies are economic growth... we need to try to bring more jobs to Norfolk, the A11 corridor helps the whole of Norfolk if we can drive it forward... also protecting frontline services, and that's problematic because we're having less and less central government funding...we need to drive forward to get more funding."

Denis Crawford in radio studio
BBC

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "We have five pledges, one is making Norfolk a great place to grow up in, including education and social services for children, and job prospects; providing support for those that need it most... a decent quality of care homes; we need to secure good jobs with good pay, economic development, we need to support good transport links as bad transport links have held us back... and we need to protect Norfolk's unique environment but not let our villages die, and create a transport system fit for the 21st century, including public transport."  

George Nobbs in radio studio
BBC

Waste incinerator: Row still hangs over election

Nic Rigby

BBC News

One of the biggest issues of the 2013 election was the plans for a waste incinerator put forward by the Conservative administration.

Councillors in the rainbow alliance chose to abandon the £500m King's Lynn incinerator in April 2014 amid rising costs for the project and a failure to secure government backing.

This meant the council had to pay the developer Cory Wheelabrator £33.7m in compensation.

We asked the panel for their views on it:

Cliff Jordan (Conservative), pictured, said: "The process was correct. It was just planned for the wrong place. Under my leadership I listen to people. And I can change my mind because I listen to people."

Cliff Jordan (Conservative)
bb

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "We learned from this that if Labour had been in power when the contract was signed we would have read the contract first before signing."

Roger Bearman (Green) said:  "We tried to stop the incinerator. It was not the right waste solution. I hope people learn to read the small print."

Denis Crawford (UKIP) said:  "Our priority when we came into power was to to get rid of the incinerator mainly because local people did not want it." He said there was still a lot of secrecy surrounding the incinerator plan.

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem) said: "While we disagree on a lot, there are many things we are fairly balanced over. And we are not always trying to attack each other."

Frontline services: How can they be improved?

Nic Rigby

BBC News

The panel was asked how it would continue to provide frontline services - such as social care and libraries - when funding is be squeezed by the government:

Roger Bearman (Green) said:  "(To provide vital services) we need to be much more joined up with and work with the third sector and voluntary sector on providing service (the government is not prepared to provide). You will find Greens picking up litter and trying to improve their communties."

Library services in Norfolk
BBC

Cliff Jordan (Conservative) said: "We need to help ourselves. Local authorities should empower people to help themselves. They don't need to be spoon fed. There are some people who can't help themselves, those are the people we really have to help."

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "In Norfolk we did not have to close a single library, or a single museum or a single child centre. Yet we had massive cuts."

Denis Crawford (UKIP) said: "We need to help voluntary group to help provide services." He added that he was concerned at money being taken from the fire service.

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem) said: "Services are not just about money. We have been working with the community to find people who are willing to put up mini-cell masts to improve broadband coverage."

Potholes: What can be done?

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

Many voters care about the state of our pavements as well as our roads, and potholes are a big issue.

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "It's a question of choices and priorities... in my ward there are appalling potholes... it is the lack of funding, there just isn't money coming from central government, they sometimes give us a small amount of money to deal with potholes but it's never remotely enough."

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem) said: "A lot of what I've discovered in the last few months that's really surprised me... and I've discovered I've really liked... is pothole spotting. One of the things a lot of people don't realise is they can report potholes online and there's lots of reasons people might not be able to do that... if they don't have a golf ball on them they're not going to be able to work out necessarily the depth of the pothole and that's where we come in, because we can go out to anywhere people report to us and fill in the forms for them... at the moment the county council is repairing them fairly quickly but help me keep in the game of pothole spotting."

Golf ball
BBC

Cliff Jordan (Conservative) said: "We're all saying the same thing here... potholes pop up overnight, they smash your car to pieces, so really we need more money for maintenance on roads, we have promised more in our manifesto but there still isn't enough... we've got thousands of miles of roads in Norfolk and there's potholes everywhere."

A pothole in the road, with vehicles
BBC

Richard Bearman (Green) said: "It's important to get the pavement priority... everybody who does their journey, whether on bike, on the bus, the train, ends up walking in the end to get where you need to go so you need more money spent on the priorities for the pavement and you can take a small amount out of the roads budget and do that."

Denis Crawford (UKIP) said: "I'm a new councillor, this is my first term of office and I was totally surprised by the amount of time I take talking about potholes and trying to get them fixed... the council is working very hard getting it done and I think we need to just get more money to do a better job."

Roads: The 'missing link' on the NDR

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

Moving on to roads now, and the Northern Distributor Road (NDR). 

The 20km (12.5m) dual carriageway runs from the A47 at Postwick, east of Norwich, round to the A1067 north of Taverham. The final link, through the Wensum Valley, to join the A47 at Easton was scrapped following concerns from environmental groups and local residents.

But when the conservatives launched their manifesto for next week's county council elections, they promised they'll complete the NDR if they retain power. 

Will they keep that promise to turn it into a ring road?

Cliff Jordan (Conservative) said: "Absolutely, 100%... it's asbolutely needed for the infrastructure of Norfolk, for Norfolk to grow in a controlled way... also it benefits Norwich, traffic at the moment has to go through Norwich... and economically the benefits are incalcable."

Construction work on NDR
BBC

What about the other parties?

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "I'm totally in favour of building the NDR, its not a road just for Norwich, it's a road that helps Norfolk, Great Yarmouth, the whole county... the difficulty is we failed as a county council to get planning permission for the final bit and the same problem will arise this time... we are committed to completing it but we have to have a route which will be accepted by the planning appeal authorities."

Denis Crawford (UKIP)  said: "My group was divided on the NDR... but basically I am in favour of it, it's now there, we need to complete the circle."

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem)  said: "It is our party policy to support the completion of the NDR... but it's something that needs to be addressed in transport strategy, you can't have new roads unless there's bus services, you can't build more things without coming up with a longer term solution."

Richard Bearman (Green) said: "The county council's own figures show that the NDR will increase congestion on the Sprowston Road, the Wroxham Road, the radials in to Norwich, by generating more car journeys... we need a more integrated approach, more rapid transit buses, better facilities for cycling... we need to design our society better so the need to travel is reduced." 

Housing: Does Norfolk need a new plan?

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

Builders are busy across the county working on new housing developments - and some people say they're changing the character of our villages. 

So who decides Norfolk's housing plan? It isn't actually down to the county council but they do have a say.

Cliff Jordan (Conservative) said: "We are consulted but it's actually down to the district council at present... I really do believe it's time Norfolk had a housing plan... people deserve high quality jobs and the infrastructure to go with the housing - I think infrastructure before houses, personally."

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem) said: "I agree on the need for a plan... there are people in Norfolk who've been born in Norfolk, their whole family history is in Norfolk, who can't get housing and it's our responsibility to do what we can to solve that. I don't think it's the existence of new houses that's the problem, it's the types of new housing and the way that plannings put together."

House under construction
bbc

Richard Bearman (Green) said: "It is a district issue but the national policy framework has come down firmly on the side of random development... and unfortunately with random development you don't get schools, doctors surgeries... we need communities... we should be thinking about building a community with all the facilities rather than a random house development."

Denis Crawford (UKIP) said: "It's an important thing for us, in Thetford we're having 5000 new houses on the town's border, against the will of most people... almost half the houses we're having to build are because of immigration in this country and if that was brought under control we'd not have to put so many houses up."

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "You need a strategic housing plan... the thing that really destroys a village is not new housing, what destroys a village is when the school closes, the shop closes. In parts of north Norfolk two-thirds of the houses are owned by people who do not live there and use them at weekends occasionally, and that is an absolute curse. I'm not against new housing but you need housing for people who've lived in that village for generations."

Can politicians co-operate with each other?

Nic Rigby

BBC News

The panel was asked about how parties can work together:

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "It is better if politicians work together for the good of Norfolk - we offered the Conservatives a chance to come in and work with us but they never wanted to cooperate with us."

Denis Crawford (UKIP) said: "Bringing all the parties together is the ideal thing but there are ideological differences amongst us."

debate shot
BBC

Richard Bearman (Green) said: "Its important that the voters are offered different policy choices at an election but we do need a distinctive voice for the electors of  Norfolk and Norwich so they can choose. It gave an opportunity for cross-party working groups at all levels."

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem) said: "Lots of people vote for different parties depending on the candidate. The electors who vote for different parties expect candidates to work together."  

Environmental issues: Are they a big deal?

Nic Rigby

BBC News

Environmental issues are a big deal to some voters, while others have different priorities. 

The candidates were asked about their concerns over the cutting down of trees in Norfolk.

Roger Bearman (Green) said:  "No matter how many thousands of saplings you plant on the edge of the Northern Distributor Road (pictured) it won't replace mature trees and forests."

Cliff Jordan (Conservative) said: "I'm an environmentalist and I don't agree with the destruction of ancient hedges and woodland but they do fall down over time and need to be replaced - you can't intervene when people cut down trees hedges, there's no law aganist it."

NDR construction
bbc

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "There should be stiffer penalties when landowners do this (cut down trees). It depends on whether the tree has a preservation order on it and planning matters are a district council function not a county council function."

Denis Crawford (UKIP) said:  "I live in Thetford, we're surrounded by the biggest lowland forest in the country. We need to protect our woodland and green areas."

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem) said:  "We must recover the cost of damage to hedgerows from the perpetrators - if they do damage to the environment they should be made to pay." 

'Rainbow alliance': Good or bad for Norfolk?

The 'rainbow alliance', which ran the county from May 2013 until 2016, has proved to be a divisive first topic in the local election debate.

Cliff Jordan (Conservative) said: "It was an absolute disaster - the PM warned about coalition in national government and we had it here and it doesn't work."

George Nobbs (Labour) said: "We solved a great deal of probelms.... we inherited a huge debt, children's services were appallingly bad and we improved that.

"We got the NDR (Northern Distributor Road) begun. We came to sensible decisions in the coalition."

General debate
BBC

Richard Bearman (Green) said: "We inherited 10 years of decline - it gave an opportunity for cross-party working groups at all levels. The 'rainbow alliance' brought a diversity of views."  

Denis Crawford (UKIP)  said:  "I would do it again - it brought a lot of good things too. We raised education standards... it allows a much better representation of the people." 

Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem) said: "Lots of people vote for different parties depending on who the candidate is. The electors who vote for different parties expect candidates to work together." 

Local election debate: Behind the scenes

Our councillors have arrived and they are raring to go, with just a few minutes until the big election debate begins.

You can listen to the debate by clicking here.   

All five candidates
BBC

Norfolk County Council profile

Nic Rigby

BBC News

Norfolk County Council was established by the Local Government Act in 1888.

The council, which is based in Norwich (pictured), covers the county of Norfolk and provides transport, education and social services.

View of Norwich
Evelyn Simak/Geograph

The county includes the city of Norwich, King's Lynn (pictured below) to the west and coastal resorts such as Great Yarmouth and Cromer (pictured bottom).

It is made up of 84 councillors and at present no one party has overall control.

At the last election in 2013, the Conservatives lost control of the council for the first time since the late 1990s.

King's Lynn
Rob Noble/Geograph

At that election the number of Conservative councillors dropped from 60 to 40.

UKIP took 15 seats, up from one in 2009, while Labour increased its representation from three to 14.

The Liberal Democrats took 10 seats, the Greens four and there was one independent.

Cromer Pier
Martin Thirkettle/Geograph

Following the election a "rainbow alliance" administration of Labour, UKIP and the Lib Dems with Green support took control of the council.

This continued until May 2016 when a Green revolt led to the Conservatives coming back to power.

Crossing for Great Yarmouth will be major issue

Andrew Turner

BBC Radio Norfolk

One of the biggest projects the next administration of Norfolk County Council will face is a third river crossing for Great Yarmouth.

The current body of councillors have pledged to part-fund the project as part of a submission to the Department for Transport. 

If built, it will link Great Yarmouth and Gorleston, providing relief to the roads for businesses, tourists and residents.

The changing role of county councils

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

We've told you what county councils do... but how is their role changing?

Over the last few years we've seen a rationalisation of assets, a huge number of redundancies, and savings on all the key services. 

Jonathan Carr-West is the chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit

He says it's not going to get easier to run county councils.

We'll see a shift in how a council functions and what they do... they'll become less about delivering services and more about investing in local areas - driving growth, facilitating the voluntary sector, bringing together other branches of the state at a local level... their role will shift from delivery to facilitation."

Jonathan Carr-WestLocal Government Information Unit

The role of the county council

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

County councils are hugely important - they make the decisions that affect our everyday life.

The run many of the services that we rely on, whether that's looking after vulnerable people, safeguarding children, libraries - and 70% of the roads are maintained by the council.

These decisions are not made by MPs in Westminster, but decided by county councils.

It's a difficult job - there are reduced resources along with increasing demand in some services, such as adult social care and children's services.

Grants from central government are repeatedly cut, and the government's intention is to phase out central government funding entirely by 2020. 

So by then, local government will be entirely financed by money it raises locally... primarily business rates and council tax.

Biogs: Steffan Aquarone (Lib Dem)

Liberal Democrat representative Steffan Aquarone grew up in Blickling and is a writer who, among other things, writes industry speeches.

He says he "joined the Liberal Democrats because I believe that power should be taken away from people who’ve inherited it or obtained it via privilege, and given back to people and communities".

Stefan Aquaraone
BBC

Biogs: Richard Bearman (Green)

Leader of the Green Party group on Norfolk County Council, Richard Bearman has lived in Norwich for more than 20 years.

Mr Bearman, a school governor and keen organic gardener, has represented the Mancroft ward since 2009. He says he is a "strong advocate for cycling as a principle means of transport in the city".

Richard Bearman
BBC

Biogs: Denis Crawford (UKIP)

Leader of the UKIP group on Norfolk County Council, Denis Crawford moved from London to settle in Thetford in 1972. 

He worked at Baxters Healthcare as a machine setter and then at Thetford Sports Centre as the catering manager. He represents Thetford East on the county council and is a governor of Raleigh Infant School.

Leader of the UKIP group Denis Crawford
BBC

Biogs: George Nobbs (Labour)

Labour leader George Nobbs, a Norwich writer and publisher, has been a councillor since May 2005.

He became leader of the council in May 2013 following a deal between Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP members.

George Nobbs
BBC

Biogs: Cliff Jordan (Conservative)

Conservative leader Cliff Jordan has lead Norfolk County Council since May 2016. He was elected leader of the Conservative group aged 69 in March 2015.

Mr Jordan, who ran a landscape gardening business before turning to politics, was first elected to the council in June 2001 and represents the Yare and All Saints ward.

Conservative leader Cliff Jordan
BBC

Election debate: The county council today

Andrew Sinclair

BBC Look East political correspondent

For the last four years, the politics of Norfolk has been dominated by one phrase: rainbow alliance.

With no party winning an overall majority last time round, a loose coalition of Labour, Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Greens came together to run the council. 

One of the big questions in this election is: Did it work, and should Norfolk have another one? 

The rainbow alliance changed the way that council business was done by doing away with the cabinet system, it sorted out the Kings Lynn incinerator (remember that one?!) and started to get to grips with the dire situation in childrens' services.

It also argued a lot and last year fell apart leaving the Conservatives to take over. 

The Tories say the alliance was a disaster and little got done. The opposition parties say those three years were some of the best Norfolk ever had. 

County council chambers
BBC

These elections have been eclipsed by the general election but there are important issues for voters to consider: 

  • How does the authority keep providing front line services with continued pressure on its budget?
  • Which party will best ensure that Norfolk gets the transport and broadband links that it so needs
  • Should the Northern Distributor Road run all the way around Norwich or stop at Taverham?

All the parties are promising strong leadership, the question for voters is which party can do the job best or is it a job best shared once again?

If you're not sure how to vote, we're here to help

If you haven't decided how you're going to vote in the local elections on Thursday 4 May, tune in to the big debate on BBC Radio Norfolk, which starts at 09:00. 

You can listen to it by clicking here

Before it starts, we'll have a profile of each of the candidates, so you can learn a bit about their backgrounds.

The debate features representatives of the five main parties on Norfolk County Council and will be chaired by BBC Look East Political Correspondent Andrew Sinclair (pictured).

We'll bring you some analysis from him next.

Andrew Sinclair BBC Look East Political Correspondent
BBC

Welcome to our election debate coverage

Caroline Kingdon

BBC Local Live

Good morning and thanks for joining us on the day BBC Radio Norfolk holds a live debate with the leaders of the five main parties on Norfolk County Council.

In less than a week, many of us will be going to the polls to vote for a new county council. Traditionally turn out is low - about half that of a general election.

My colleague Nic Rigby and I will bring you updates from the debate, which gets under way at 09:00.

County Hall
BBC