Norfolk County Council is encouraging people to keep a close eye on the weather forecast over the next 16 hours and be ready to react, as strong winds from Storm Aileen are predicted to hit parts of Norfolk overnight and peaking between 5 – 6am tomorrow morning. Following an amber weather warning from the Met Office, we would urge highway users to take extra care on the roads tonight and tomorrow as there may be fallen trees and branches about. NCC Highways has increased the number of emergency crews working tonight to six to help deal with any issues caused by the high winds. Conditions are likely to make everyday life more difficult for some people in Norfolk. Our highways team is well-practised at dealing with wet and stormy weather and they will work around the clock if needed to keep the roads as clear and safe as possible, but people should still be prepared for potentially hazardous travel conditions. I would urge everyone to keep up to date with the latest weather and travel information so they can make an informed decision about the conditions before they travel anywhere. Please also consider checking on older or vulnerable relatives and friends who may find it harder to cope during wet and wintry weather.” If you have to make a journey during wet and stormy weather, the council’s road safety team has the following advice: * Always drive to the conditions – slow right down and brake gently when road surfaces may have less grip. * Leave plenty of extra time to make your journey – ‘drive to arrive’ and don’t take unnecessary risks. * People may want to plan their route to avoid any steep hills in wet or windy weather – rear wheel drive cars in particular can struggle with traction when driving uphill.

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New Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee to meet for the first time A group of councillors charged with leading Norfolk County Council’s work to improve digital connectivity in the county and exploit the opportunities new technology presents will meet for the first time on Monday, 18 September. The Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee was created by the council this summer and will be accountable for a number of key areas including: – The council’s and BT’s Better Broadband for Norfolk and its ambition to extend access to superfast broadband to at least 95% of homes and businesses by 2020. – Norfolk County Council’s use of technology to deliver better 24/7 online personalised services – Championing Norfolk’s ambition to accelerate digital and mobile connectivity and lobby Government and the telecoms industry to maximise new opportunities such as 5G wireless technology. At Monday’s meeting the committee will receive a report which provides an update on digital inclusion in Norfolk. Digital inclusion refers to the ability and appetite of individuals and communities to access and use digital media, such as the internet, to support in accessing services, achieving higher levels of education, improving employment opportunities, finding cheaper goods and products, and finding new information, advice and entertainment options. As well as having potentially significant benefits to individuals, it is estimated that local government in the UK could save more than £420 million through digitising transactions with residents. The report sets out that there are a number of potential barriers to digital inclusion. As well as more practical issues, such as physical access and cost, confidence in using the internet and new technology can be a major factor, particularly in carrying out certain functions like banking or buying goods and services. National research suggests that at least 75 per cent of people in Norfolk have what are referred to the five ‘basic digital skills’ – which refer to using technology and the internet to manage information, communicate, carry out transactions, problem solve and create content. However, this still means that nearly one in four people in the county cannot currently do at least one of these tasks. Norfolk County Council has a number of ongoing initiatives that are designed to improve digital inclusion. As well as its Better Broadband for Norfolk programme, the council’s libraries and community learning services (formerly adult education) offer a range of courses to give people of all ages the skills and ability to get online and use the internet confidently and safely. Plans are being made to further extend this offer, including running sessions to help people familiarise themselves with their own devices and working with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and local police to help keep people safe online. Tom Garrod, Chairman of the Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee, said: “Being able to access digital and online services is becoming crucial and we don’t want anyone in Norfolk to be disadvantaged by not having the tools or confidence to make use of them. Between our Better Broadband for Norfolk programme and the digital learning opportunities we provide, we’re making some great strides in improving digital inclusion and I’m keen for this committee to help identify any other areas where we can make a positive impact.” At the meeting, members of the committee will also receive an update on the Better Broadband for Norfolk programme and a report on progress digitising many of the council’s customer facing services. The Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee will meet at 10am on Monday, 18 September in the Edwards Room at County Hall in Norwich. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

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Over half of Norwich NDR on course for completion this year The early opening of up to 14km of Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NDR – A1270) is recommended to Councillors in a report to Norfolk County Council’s Environment, Development and Transport (EDT) Committee, which meets on Friday 15 September*. At the western end of the 19.5km route, construction has reached the stage where the final surfacing is underway between the A1067 Fakenham Road and the A140 Cromer Road, with crash barriers already going up along the central reserve. If the good progress being made on the NDR/Cromer Road junction is maintained, this section could be ready for traffic by the end of October or early November. There is also the potential for the road to be complete all the way from the A140 Cromer Road to the A1151 Wroxham Road by the end of the year (2017). Most of the carriageway base is now ready for asphalt surfacing, with the base layers already down on much of this section, and final surfacing to start between the B1150 North Walsham Road roundabout and A1151 Wroxham Road. Progress is now being made in a number of places, such as Bullock Hill (north of Norwich Airport), Quaker Lane, and Buxton Road, where utility services (gas mains and sewers) and access requirements have been ‘plugs’ preventing the work needed to establish a continuous carriageway. Completion of the A140 to A1151 section by the end of the year also depends upon major work at the site of the A1270 NDR/A1151 Wroxham Road roundabout, where a nine day closure, starting late on Friday 6 October, reopening on Monday 16 October, is needed to construct a deep drainage culvert. Much of the work to construct the new roundabout will be carried out at the same time. Martin Wilby, Chairman of the EDT Committee, said: “It’s excellent news that parts of Norwich Northern Distributor Road will be ready for traffic by the end of the year, with some on course to be complete well before Christmas. However, opening part of the route could have knock-on effects on existing roads, and I am sure that before giving their approval Committee members will want to be sure that the measures proposed to protect communities such as Weston Longville are adequate. “On the other hand, delaying the opening of any completed section would be very hard on road users who have put up with months of disruption. What we can all look forward to is completion and opening of the whole of the NDR next spring (2018), on or very close to the original programme.” The report concludes that, with measures in place to reduce the impact of localised traffic issues and continued monitoring until the whole road is complete, it is possible to open NDR from the A1067 to A140, and A140 to A1151, as they become available

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Looking forward to taking calls with Nick Conrad on BBC Radio Norfolk discussing Broadband, mobile coverage, and all things digital later this morning

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Very best of luck to all those receiving GCSE results tomorrow. If you open the envelope knowing you tried your best, you’ve already succeeded!#GCSEResultsDay2017

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“To you it’s a dream, to me it’s a goal”

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‪Latest Better Broadband for Norfolk figures show 89% of households in county have at least 15 MPS at the end of June 2017‬

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If you own/ run a small business in the area feel free to post a picture of an item or service you sell in the comments below. Two rules: no prices or links please. If people are interested they can then contact you via your profile or page. Then if you could share this post, let’s see how much business we can drum up for local small businesses!

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Going to be talking about my new role as Norfolk County Council’s Chairman of the Digital Innovation and Efficiency Committee LIVE on Future Radio in half an hour!

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Proud to be elected Chairman of the Norfolk County Council’s Digital Innovation & Efficiency Committee this morning!

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