Norwich City Council pledges to listen over plans for new homes and service cuts

Families have been told their voice will count when it comes to decisions into how to cut up to �1.5m from frontline services provided by Norwich City Council.

And they have also been promised the council will listen to their views over where hundreds of new homes should be built around the city over the next two decades.

A meeting of the city council's cabinet last night agreed to two key consultations - one over the future of the council itself and one over a blueprint for where hundreds of homes might be built in Norwich.

The council has already warned that �1.5m may be cut from the amount of money the city council spends on frontline services next year, as it grapples to make �12.2m savings over the next four years.

Last night the details of the options for making those savings, along with a further �3.58m from efficiencies, 'new ways of working' and cutting service costs, were discussed behind closed doors.

The details will be unveiled when consultation starts on the options in the next two weeks, but Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'You will all be aware that we have significant cuts to make, but also money to spend, so we intend to consult on how we should be prioritising. That's a process we are going to go through over the next 12 weeks.

'We are in a stronger position than most to deal with what is in front of us and it means we will be able to listen to what people in Norwich tell us are their priorities.'

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The council also agreed to put forward for consultation almost a dozen sites around Norwich identified as places where hundreds of new homes could be built over the next two decades.

The schemes are all new or revised additions considered for inclusion on Norwich City Council's site allocations development plan document – a blueprint for where development will happen around the city.

Public consultation has already been held on most of the sites, but since that finished in March, new and revised schemes have been lodged.

They include the site of Lakenham Sports and Leisure Centre, the sports hall at Wensum Lodge, Laurence Scott's Gothic Works and the Heigham Waterworks site and a housing development for the elderly on land to the west of Bluebell Road in Eaton, with between 150 and 200 units.

Bert Bremner, cabinet member for planning and transportation, acknowledged some of the sites were controversial and said: 'I want to emphasise that this is consultation. The council is keen to get views from local people and community groups. Let the people speak.'

Liberal Democrat councillor for Eaton, questioned why the Lakenham scheme was back on the agenda, having previously been removed from the blueprint and why people were once again being asked about the Bluebell Road site, which had already been consulted on. Officers said those schemes had been changed from those originally put forward, so public consultation was sought on the revised proposals.

The cabinet also agreed to spend �235,000 of capital cash to install solar panels on the roof of City Hall, to close neighbourhood offices in Colman Road and Hansard Close and to increase management fees charged to just under 2,600 people who lease their homes from the council.