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Seven of the main priorities which this region will be facing in 2020

Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Jamie Honeywood

Graham Plant, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Social care for older and disabled people

Extinction Rebellion protestors at County Hall. Picture: Extinction RebellionExtinction Rebellion protestors at County Hall. Picture: Extinction Rebellion

The wait goes on for the national government to get to grips with the funding crisis facing social care - a particular issue in Norfolk, which its growing elderly population.

The Conservative government promised a green paper on social care back in 2017, but Brexit and general elections have put that on the back burner.

In the meantime, Norfolk County Council has pumped millions of pounds into trying to help the care market locally, amid a backdrop of some care homes struggling to meet good enough standards.

County council leader Andrew Proctor wrote to Mr Johnson last month to call for sustainable funding for adult social care.

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England.The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England.

Disabled people in Norfolk are already feeling the impact of the lack of cash.

And people in the county are likely to see their council tax increase as the authority's budget planning includes a portion ring-fences specifically to pay for adult social care.

Crime

Brexit will have an impact on Norfolk. Pic: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire.Brexit will have an impact on Norfolk. Pic: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire.

Crime associated with the County Lines drug trade has had a huge impact.

Norfolk police has been trying to tackle that with Operation Gravity.

But for all the successes, all organisations will need to come together to tackle the issue.

As chief constable Simon Bailey, inset left, has made clear police cannot simply arrest their way out of the issue.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve AdamsChief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve Adams

Transport

There is growing anger over the amount of time it is taking for Highways England to get on with the improvement work to the A47.

Despite the government announcing £300m for the road, including to improve Thickthorn roundabout and the stretch between Blofield and North Burlingham, North Tuddenham and Easton, work has yet to start.

Adult social care will be a big issue for Norfolk in 2020. Pic: Jonathan Brady/PA WireAdult social care will be a big issue for Norfolk in 2020. Pic: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

An angry Graham Plant, inset right, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council, has said it should have started sooner, so expect the council to continue to press for the process to be sped up.

The county council will also be hoping for progress on the Western Link of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road, although opponents will be equally keen to stop that happening.

Rail will continue to be under the spotlight, especially after Greater Anglia's new trains were overshadowed by signalling issues on rural routes.

Fingers will be crossed that when the new intercity trains begin, there will be no problems.

Improving attainment in schools will continue to be an important priority. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodImproving attainment in schools will continue to be an important priority. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Climate change

An ambitious date of 2030 for Norfolk to achieve net zero carbon emissions forms part of the environment policy for the county council.

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The protest by climate change campaigners Extinction Rebellion at February's budget meeting, where members occupied the council chamber, undoubtedly played a part in the council's intention to become greener.

With the Norwich branch of Extinction Rebellion one of the most active in the country, expect more demonstrations by them in the months ahead.

And, away from the council chambers, the impact of climate change and rising sea levels has a very real effect on the county. Places such as Hemsby, Walcott and Happisburgh have suffered in recent years and the argument about funding for such communities will continue.

Housing

Issues with homelessness in places like Norwich and King's Lynn have been clear to see.

Early in the new year, council leaders will come together to decide whether to approve the Greater Norwich Local Plan for consultation. If endorsed, that will be a blueprint for where thousands of new homes could be built in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk.

Still on housing, eyes in Norwich will be on January's public inquiry into the Anglia Square revamp.

An inspector will decide whether to recommend that the city council was right or wrong to agree to the Weston Homes development, which includes more than 1,200 homes.

Health

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, responsible for mental health care, is still in special measures, following critical reports from watchdogs.

Chief executive Jonathan Warren has said he will lead it out of special measures and has also signalled how ending the practice of people being sent out of county for placements is a "top priority",

But campaigners are sceptical, saying a lack of specialist staff will make it hard for the service to reach the standards expected. Both the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital have been told by watchdogs that they are must get better. The N&N, which is hampered by a lack of available space for expansion, is rated as requires improvement, while the QEH has been deemed inadequate.

Education

There have been improvements, with Norfolk County Council having worked hard to get more of the county's schools improved Ofsted ratings.

But schools have suffered from losses in funding - another issue council leader Andrew Proctor called for the government to address in his letter to Mr Johnson.

The county's primary school pupils are still lagging behind in the national Key Stage 2 tests of reading, writing and maths.

The percentage of children meeting expected standards in all three subjects of reading, writing and mathematics was 59pc in 2019. That is up on 57pc in 2017, but below the 65pc national average. Only 7pc hit the higher standard, compared to 11pc nationally.

Provisional date for GCSEs, which covered state-funded schools, showed 62.7pc achieved grades 9 to 4 in English and maths - the equivalent of A* to C in the old grading system. It was slightly below the national average of 64.6pc, but slightly above last year's provisional result for Norfolk of 62pc.

Brexit

Clearly, the region's industries will face changes in a post-Brexit landscape.

Norfolk industry leaders have been crying out for clarity on what trade will look like after the UK leaves the EU.

One sector deemed to be particularly vulnerable is the farming community.

But others will be hoping that Brexit will bring new opportunities and economic stimulation.

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