‘Focus on your finances’ was a key message of a recent Ofsted-style review of North Norfolk District Council (NNDC). 

A peer-review panel made up of local council figures from across the country has delivered a mixed, but broadly positive review of NNDC’s health following a three-day visit in September. 

The Local Government Association’s Corporate Peer Challenge report said the council was feeling “the pinch of austerity” and rising inflation and its finance monitoring needed to be looked at. 

It was also critical of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, and a lack of information received by councillors.

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It said: “There were examples of reports arriving on the day of meetings, in the wrong report template, without consideration of the implication’s sections and generally poorly written. 

“This is unhelpful to the members, it also doesn’t allow for good governance and needs to be addressed.

“To continue to improve, the council needs to re-evaluate its capacity for change and transformation to meet the future challenges in technology, workforce, planning and culture.”

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The report said the council had a strong record of delivery, noting key projects including the planting of more than 110,000 trees, North Walsham’s Heritage Action Zone and the £12.7m Reef leisure centre. 

It said: “NNDC is a council which performs well, cares for and is delivering for its residents.

"Officers and elected members have a clear understanding of the needs, wants and challenges in the district and are passionate about delivering for their communities.”

Fakenham & Wells Times: North Norfolk District Council leader Tim AdamsNorth Norfolk District Council leader Tim Adams (Image: NNDC)Councillor Tim Adams, council leader, said: “Their report on the performance of the council is testament to the work of staff and elected members from across the council in seeking to provide services to - and be an advocate for - residents, businesses and communities across the district.” 

Unique challenges

The feedback report said North Norfolk was on the “frontline of climate change” and faces challenges including sea level rise, coastal erosion and extreme weather such as water scarcity impacting the agricultural sector. 

Describing the district, which is home to 105,000 people, the report said: “[North Norfolk] has a 45-mile coastline and one-third of the district is within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

“These factors lead to it having one of the highest percentages of second and holiday homes in the UK and a strong demand for people retiring to the area - the district has one of the oldest age profiles in the UK. 

“The district’s economy is strongly focussed on tourism, local service provision, agriculture and social care, with some manufacturing in food processing, boatbuilding and plastic products.”