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Campaigners furious at council consultation

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                                                                                                                                                                             More seats for
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‘Is thIs just
protest: More than 1,000 people marched through Norwich on saturday in protest at the county council and government cuts to public services.
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                                                                                                                                                                             Father and son
                                                                                                                                                                             reunited in
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                                                                                                                                                                             PAGE 20




ONE BIG cON?’
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                                                                                            Campaigners furious
                                               BY SHAUN LOWTHORPE
                                               Public affairs correspondet                                                                                                   A winter
                                               Norfolk County Council’s much-
                                                                                                                                                                             warmer for
                                               vaunted Big Conversation has been
                                               branded a “Big Con” by disabled
                                               rights campaigners fearful at the
                                               impact the proposals will have.
                                                                                            at council consultation                                                          the freezer
                                                                                                                                                                             PAGES 4-5
                                                 County Hall is looking across the          time to make a proper response.          And in a further sign of how
                                               board at cuts in services as it seeks          Campaigners believe that they        protest against the council cuts is         PULL-OUT
                                               to bridge a £155m funding black              have not been given enough             gathering, hundreds of students
                                               hole in the wake of cuts in council          meaningful information about the       will today march from City College        Why Chris
                                               funding, which could see council-            plans, which include proposals to      Norwich to County Hall in protest
                                               run support cut for thousands of             shut down council-run sensory          at plans to cut transport subsidies       Martin is
                                               people and the loss of around 3,000          support services for the deaf and      for college students.
                                               jobs.                                        the blind.                               Mr Harrison said that with more         enjoying
                                                 The authority is currently
                                               carrying out a wide-ranging “Big
                                                                                              Members of the NCODP were
                                                                                            among those out in force at an anti-
                                                                                                                                   than 180,000 disabled people in
                                                                                                                                   Norfolk, the county council’s cuts
                                                                                                                                                                             the high life
                                               Conversation” with residents,
                                               asking them what they would like
                                                                                            cuts protest in Norwich on
                                                                                            Saturday as more than 1,000 people
                                                                                                                                   would be too severe and beyond
                                                                                                                                   central government requirements.
                                                                                                                                                                             for City
                                               services to look like in the future,         marched through the city in              He added that combined with
                                               alongside a series of statutory              protest at the county council and      national cuts to benefits and health      PINk uN
                                               consultations, including cuts to             gover nment cuts to public             care, the measures would have a               >> Did
                                                                                                                                                                                          yo u see th
                                               services for adults and young                services.                              dramatic and long lasting effect on            Match-
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                                                                                                                                                                                                      at? >>
                                                                                                                                                                                                             Your 8-p
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      age sp
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ecial on
                                                                                                                                                                                he is haadmits
                                               people, and public transport.                  Organisers said the march, which     a large part of Norfolk’s                                                                         Norwich




                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pink U
                                                                                                                                                                               the tim ving                                                  City’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2-1 vic
                                                                                                                                                                               his life e of                                                               tory at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Pride
                                                 But Mark Harrison, chief                   brought together public sector         population.                                centre –
                                                                                                                                                                                       pages
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The                                 Park


                                               executive of the Norfolk Coalition
                                               of Disabled People (NCODP), said
                                               the     “Big      C o nv e r s a t i o n ”
                                                                                            workers worried about jobs losses
                                                                                            and users of services, was the
                                                                                            biggest protest the city had seen
                                                                                                                                     “The Big Conversation is a big
                                                                                                                                   con,” Mr Harrison said. “It is not a
                                                                                                                                   conversation between equal parties
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          n                      Monda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         y, Dec
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ember
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     6, 201
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                                               consultation was “tokenistic” and            since anti-poll tax protests in the    as the county council is deliberately                                                          DERB
                                               people were not being given enough           late 1980s.                            ■ TuRN TO PAGE NINE                                                                           DOUBL Y
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                                                                                                                                                          27-32     www.EDP24.co.uk                                                      >> First
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Town –City thrash
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           win at then they
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the R
Eastern Daily Press, Monday, December 6, 2010                                                                                                      www.EDP24.co.uk/news                                  NEWS 
                                                                 Pictures: ANTONY KELLY


                                                                                          Council process ‘isn’t a fatuous exercise’
                                                                                          ■ FROM PAGE ONE
                                                                                          withholding the information Norfolk
                                                                                          citizens need to make an informed
                                                                                          contribution.
                                                                                            “We are challenging the ‘Big
                                                                                          Conversation’ on the amount and
                                                                                          accessibility of the information
                                                                                          available, because we do not believe
                                                                                          there is enough information or details
                                                                                          for people to make an informed
                                                                                          contribution. The consultation needs
                                                                                          to begin when sufficient information
                                                                                          is available and that all the
                                                                                          information is accessible in formats
                                                                                          that the disabled citizens of Norfolk
                                                                                          can access.”
                                                                                            And he said the NCODP was
                                                                                          pressing the council for a change in
                                                                                          the Big Conversation timetable
                                                                                          because it did not believe that the
                                                                                          cur rent one meets statutory
                                                                                          requirements.
                                                                                            Norfolk County Council leader
                                                                                          Derrick Murphy urged the NCODP to         OUT ON THE STREETS: Protesters demonstrate on the streets of Norwich
                                                                                          meet with the authority to talk           on Saturday.
                                                                                          through its concerns and he insisted
                                                                                          the council was listening to concerns     Norfolk people with us, it’s going to     like paying our bills, and doctor’s
                                                                                          and suggestions being put forward.        be a problem for everyone.”               appointments?”
                                                                                            “The Big Conversation ends on             The Norfolk Coalition Against the         Vicky Royall, who is a Communities
                                                                                          January 10 and I think people will be     Cuts march brought together a range       Support Worker, for Norfolk Deaf
                                                                                          genuinely surprised to see what we        of people affected by the cuts from       Connexions, said: “If funding is cut,
                                                                                          have taken on board,” Mr Murphy           council staff at risk of redundancy to    then interpreters’ jobs will go. They
                                                                                          said. “There are a lot of people          people receiving services such as         hope people are going to do it for
                                                                                          working incredibly hard behind the        social care worried about the impact      nothing or people pay for it out of
                                                                                          scenes.                                   of losing services.                       their personal budgets, but the
                                                                                            “People will see that this isn’t a        Protesters also questioned why no       problem is that money is already
                                                                                          fatuous exercise.”                        Norfolk MP was willing to join the        being used and it won’t be
                                                                                            And he said that the authority had      march.                                    increased.”
                                                                                          been in constructive talks with             Philip     Bar rett,     42,  from        Jo Rust, from the Norfolk Coalition
                                                                                          college principals, which could see       Attleborough, who is deaf and relies      Against the Cuts, said Saturday’s
                                                                                          some innovative solutions to the          on support from the county council’s      march had demonstrated that it was
                                                                                          transport subsidy problem, when a         sensory services team, said he was        many ordinary people who would be
                                                                                          decision is made in January  .            very worried about the proposals.         hit by the cuts.
                                                                                            “We both realise it’s a major issue       “We’re really worried about what          “It’s been brilliant,” she said. “It’s
                                                                                          particularly for a rural county where     this will mean,” Mr Barrett said. “I      not just about the trade unions; we
                                                                                          the number of sixth forms is limited      use the deaf centre in Norwich to         have had hundreds of service users
                                                                                          in the eastern part of the county,” Mr    meet people and have a cup of tea,        turn out prepared to speak out about
                                                                                          Murphy added. “The reality is there       and if they cut the funding there is      how these cuts are going to devastate
                                                                                          have been some very good suggestions      going to be no support and equipment      their lives.
                                                                                          which we are responding to. If we         available. How are we going to be           “This is going to grow into
                                                                                          don’t carry the hearts and minds of       helped going out, and with things         something bigger.”


EAST ANGLIA




Extra seats for London trains
By SHAUN LOWTHORPE                                                                                                                    “The investment of £185m in our         goals had been made through
                                                                                                                                    service improvement plan to provide       significant improvements in this
Passengers heading to London will                                                                                                   capacity enhancement on the East          December’s timetable, and with the
soon be able to board faster trains                                                                                                 Anglia network, agreed with the           development of a strategy to build a
with more available seats, with the                                                                                                 Department for Transport, is              business case and stakeholder
introduction of a new timetable next                                                                                                providing 188 new and additional          support for major upgrades to the
week.                                                                                                                               vehicles with the first 68 carriages on   route.
  Rail firm National Express East                                                                                                   our mainline route from this                Specific work to develop a business
Anglia has unveiled a raft of changes,                                                                                              December and 120 new carriages on         case and stakeholder support for a
which include a faster rush-hour 1hr                                                                                                our Stansted Express and West Anglia      Great Eastern Mainline (GEML)
44min service from Norwich to the                                                                                                   route in 2011.                            route upgrade has seen coordinated
capital at 7.40am, stopping only at                                                                                                   “Overall, by the end of 2011,           pressure from MPs and county
Diss and Ipswich, and more than                                                                                                     National Express East Anglia will be      councils to help raise the issue with
4,000 extra seats on peak-time trains                                                                                               providing 11,000 more seats for our       ministers, while a East of England
to and from Liverpool Street.                                                                                                       customers using services into London      Development Agency study has
  The firm is also investing £1m in                                                                                                 Liverpool Street – an increase of 18pc    shown that a route upgrade would
improvements to train cleaning and                                                                                                  on the current seating capacity           generate £3.7bn worth of economic
customer information following                                                                                                      levels.”                                  benefits for the region.
feedback from passengers, while next                                                                                                  The firm was told by the previous         The creation of a GEML stakeholder
year will also see the introduction of                                                                                              government that its franchise deal        group, including local authorities
wi-fi facilities on intercity services.                                                                                             would not be extended beyond March        along the route, is helping to give
  The timetable includes additional                                                                                                 2011, but has since been given a six-     added momentum to the plans and
seats and increased capacity on many                                                                                                month extension by the coalition.         aspirations for a route upgrade are
services as part of a service                                                                                                         It has also been putting pressure on    now recognised in the franchise
improvement plan ag reed in                     CAPITAL CHANGES: More spaces are to be made available on London                     Railtrack to improve the way it           specification process for the Greater
conjunction with the Department for             services in the new Natioanl Express East Anglia timetable.                         carries out engineering work after a      Anglia franchise and it is expected
Transport.                                                                                                                          spate of delays caused chaos for          that future Network Rail plans will
  In Norfolk, the key improvements              be modern three-carriage trains and       from London to Norwich, while a 5am       commuters.                                now place an increased priority on
include longer peak Intercity trains            extra Sunday services will operate at     service to London, stopping only at         And speaking at a Shaping Norfolk’s     enhancing the route.
between Norwich, Diss and London,               10.03pm from Norwich and 8.48am           Diss, will arrive in the capital before   Future conference last week, Mr             Network Rail is also looking at
with nine trains each carrying an               from Cambridge.                           7am.                                      Chivers said progress was being           increasing the stretches of track
extra coach and some faster off-peak              There will also be two extra morning      Andrew Chivers, managing director       made in realising a vision of an          where the line speed is 100mph.
services between Norwich, Diss and              and evening peak services between         of National Express East Anglia said:     upgraded train service.                     Business leaders in Norfolk have
London, with a journey time of 1hr              Great Yarmouth and Norwich.               “The December timetable provides a          Last year, Mr Chivers set out a         also been involved in the Norwich in
47 mins.                                          A new 7.30pm Norwich to London          real step-change for our customers,       vision of new trains, faster journey      90 campaign, calling for a 90-minute
  More Norwich Intercity services               service means that trains will leave      with longer trains and over 4,000         times and upgraded infrastructure         jour ney between the city and
will stop at Stratford and most                 the city every 30 minutes until 10pm      extra seats at peak times into London     for the route and now he has explained    London.
Norwich to Cambridge services will              and there is also a new 9pm service       Liverpool Street.                         how initial progress towards those        ■ COMMENT – Page 14

				
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