Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Council leaders have been urged to sell the site where a hugely controversial incinerator was due to be built to West Norfolk Council.
And the county council’s scrutiny committee today also demanded that a “provocative” proposal to snatch second homes cash back from district councils be reviewed.
Under proposals put forward before the potential compensation costs for axing the proposed Saddlebow incinerator went up by £3.5m, two options were put forward to help pay the bill.
One option would take £900,000 from highways maintenance and spend £140,000 less on library books.
The other would make up the missing £1m or so from about half of the money from council tax on second homes which the county council currently gives to district councils.
But a call-in by west Norfolk county councillors John Dobson, Brian Long and Jason Law criticised the officers’ recommendations as “ill-thought through”.
Mr Long told the meeting: “I find it absolutely abhorrent that we have to start raiding the money from other councils’ coffers when they’ve already agreed their budgets.”
Tom FitzPatrick, North Norfolk Council leader, said taking second homes cash would hamper district schemes to combat rural isolation.
If the proposal is enacted, officers said the approximate amount of money taken from district councils would be: £428,000 from North Norfolk Council, £358,000 from King’s Lynn, £63,000 from South Norfolk, £53,000 from Breckland, £50,000 from Great Yarmouth, £47,000 from Broadland and £37,000 from Norwich.
Steve Morphew, Labour cabinet member for finance, said the cash was needed quickly and alternative suggestions were welcome.
“I’m not going to suggest it’s an elegant solution, but it does the job,” he added.
Scrutiny councillors recommended that cabinet review the proposed service cuts with a view to finding the savings elsewhere, in line with Mr Dobson’s proposal.
And in a separate proposal from Mr Long, councillors recommended that the county council should offer to sell the Willows site at Saddlebow to West Norfolk Borough Council, subject to valuation by the District Valuer.
Those recommendations will now be discussed at the final meeting of the county council’s cabinet at County Hall tomorrow at 10.30am.