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Union fears that political ‘point scoring’ will hamper Norfolk County Council budget setting

PUBLISHED: 09:27 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:27 17 February 2014

Labour leader George Nobbs.

Labour leader George Nobbs.

Fears have been raised that political “point scoring” could result in Norfolk County Council not setting its budget today.

The Labour/Liberal Democrat administration at County Hall has put forward plans to part plug a £189m shortfall with wide-ranging cuts to services, but is not proposing to increase council tax bills for 2014/15.

However, the plans have been branded as “flawed” by the Conservative opposition group, which has 40 elected members. And the Green Party, which has four county councillors, has said that it is unable to support a budget because of the scale of social services cuts and has proposed a 3.5pc council tax increase.

It has led to Unison officials fearing that the Labour and Liberal Democrat administration will not have a majority to pass the budget at today’s full council meeting. Jonathan Dunning, Norfolk county branch secretary for Unison, said: “Not to set a budget would be a disaster and irresponsible, but there is a risk this could happen if any one political group puts point scoring over the interests of Norfolk County Council and the people we serve.”

George Nobbs, the Labour leader of the county council, said suggestions of a council tax rise were “futile” when the council would have to hold a costly referendum if it wanted to raise tax by more than 1.9pc.

“There is a determination from the administration to set a budget. It is vitally important that a budget is set for Norfolk and we can not afford to play silly politics with people’s services. At the time when we are cutting services, it seems unreasonable to increase the council tax as well.”

Bill Borrett, leader of the Conservative opposition group, said he would be “very surprised” if a budget was no set.

“I am assuming the administration are setting a budget. They have a majority in the chamber and it is their job to set the budget. We have serious concerns about the budget and it appears the administration is not planning properly for the long-term and this is a short-term fix.”

“Robbing money from next year’s budget to plug gaps will mean that the cuts will be twice as deep next year,” he said.

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