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More than £1m spent on security at County Hall over the past five years

PUBLISHED: 12:23 21 July 2019 | UPDATED: 21:46 21 July 2019

Climate change campaigners occupy Norfolk County Council chamber at February's budget meeting. Picture Dan Grimmer.

Climate change campaigners occupy Norfolk County Council chamber at February's budget meeting. Picture Dan Grimmer.

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More than £1m has been spent on security at Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters over the past five years, new figures have revealed.

Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters in Martineau Lane, Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters in Martineau Lane, Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

And there have been a string of occasions when thousands of pounds more has been spent on extra security, most recently in the wake of the meeting where climate change campaigners occupied the council chamber.

The figures were revealed in a Freedom Of Information Act request to the county council.

They show that the county council has paid its own arms-length company Norse an average of £211,966 a year for the past six years for security at the Martineau Lane site.

The costliest bill was in 2015/2016, when £245,772 was paid, while for the 12 months from April 2018 to the end of March this year, £195,656 was paid.

Those are fixed charges, but there have also been occasions when the council has drafted in extra security.

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There are no records of that happening before 2016/17 and the council refused to reveal the reasons why extra security had been necessary.

They said: "The council has a duty to protect all those working or visiting County Hall. When local or national intelligence suggests there is a significant risk to the safety of councillors, staff or visitors to County Hall extra security measures are put in place.

"The council considers that disclosure of this information would compromise the integrity of the security of the campus site."

However, there was a visible increase in security for visitors to County Hall after climate change campaigners occupied County Hall.

Campaigners from Extinction Rebellion staged a protest over the Norwich Northern Distributor Road/A47 Western Link, delaying the setting of the budget at the full council meeting in February.

The council had spent £2,650 on extra security in January, £1,216 in February and £1,659 in March.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: "The county council's spending on security is prudent and proportionate."

Extra security measures were introduced at County Hall after an intruder filmed himself and his dog wandering through the council's offices.

Electronic gates were installed after the incident in 2013.

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