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Site allocations are very much on track Reducing aid has devastating effect

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The UK’s planning system is, undoubtedly, a complex one, with many layers of policy, plans, strategy and authority.

On Friday, in this newspaper, readers will have read an article on the South Norfolk Village Clusters Housing Allocation Plan, with a public consultation running for the next eight weeks.

Regrettably, there was no mention made of the Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan (DDNP), which, with South Norfolk’s agreement, is allocating appropriate sites for development for Roydon, Burston and Shimpling, and Scole until 2038.

Many Diss Express readers who live in these parishes would have benefited from finding some reassurance within the article that what they’ve been told at their parish council meetings – that the DDNP is handling the site allocations for their parishes – was correct, acknowledged and still in place.

It is no wonder people get confused, lose trust in their local councillors and feel that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing.

For anyone living within the area covered by the DDNP, please be assured that the site allocations for these parishes are on track and are in accordance with the outcome of public consultations already carried out during 2020.

We are progressing to the next stage of the DDNP, the regulation 14 consultation, which is soon to go live and run through to early August.

This will be the first time the draft of the entire plan has been shared with the people who helped to make it – and that’s all of you who live and work within the seven DDNP parishes.

In addition to site allocations, the plan also contains protection policies for local green spaces, important views and the historic environment, as well as policies on design, dark skies, green corridors and walking and cycling – all issues of great importance to the local area.

Within Roydon, we will be delivering our parish council newsletter, The Roydon Round-Up, to every Roydon household over the next few days.

This will contain all the information needed to access the consultation online, who to contact if you need a printed copy of the plan and how to give feedback.

We urge you to take part and join us as we approach the final stages of the Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan.

Paul Curson, Jane Jennifer and Trevor Ault

Roydon parish councillors and DDNP Steering Group representatives

In the week that the eyes of the world will be on the G7 leaders meeting in Cornwall, much attention has been given in the media to the Government’s decision last year to cut the UK’s foreign aid from 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5 per cent.

The Government has sought to justify the cut – amounting to over £4 billion – as needed to help balance the Treasury books following the exceptional cost of Covid-19 related expenditure.

This is despite the fact that the 0.7 per cent target is enshrined in law, the International Development Act 2015 providing: “It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the target for official development assistance to amount to 0.7% of GNI is met by the UK in 2015 and each subsequent calendar year.”

Not only is meeting the target a statutory duty, but the Conservative manifesto for the December 2019 general election stated unequivocally: “We will proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development.”

The Prime Minister, who knows that the cut is morally indefensible, has consistently refused to allow MPs a meaningful vote. For the Government to renege on its commitment is deplorable, and to seek to do so without parliamentary approval is undemocratic.

To quote Andrew Mitchell (former International Development Secretary) in The Times earlier this week: “The Government front bench is treating the House of Commons with disrespect. They are avoiding a vote on the commitments that each of us made individually and collectively at the last general election, on a promise made internationally and, in the opinion of some of Britain’s leading lawyers, the government is acting unlawfully.”

The effect of the cut on the poorest in many parts of the world is devastating. And it is not enough to say (as various ministers have been parroting when interviewed, that the UK is still among the biggest donors of overseas aid.

Thirty-eight MPs from all parties (including 18 Conservatives – though, significantly none from Suffolk) and all parts of the UK spoke during an emergency three-hours debate last week. There was near universal condemnation of the Government’s position, with just three Tory MPs, in addition to Steve Barclay (Chief Secretary to the Treasury), supporting the cut.

As several members pointed out, the cut has had a disproportionate effect on several aid budgets, with those for clean water and the UN programme on HIV/Aids both down by 80 per cent, funding to Yemen (considered to be suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis) cut by 60 per cent, and the budget for the global polio eradication initiative cut by 95 per cent.

The reputation of the UK, and its ability to give a moral lead in the world, is at stake.

Loretta Minghella, former CEO of Christian Aid, said this in her short speech supporting the amendment: “The United Kingdom’s legal commitment to the 0.7% aid budget is a badge of honour. It is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.

“Having been for seven years the CEO of Christian Aid, I have seen the difference that aid makes, how it strengthens communities so that, when disasters strike, they are better able to sustain themselves.

“Surely we should keep our word as a nation. That is the kind of nation I thought we were and that is the kind of nation we need to be.”

Mr A Smith

Pulham St Mary

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