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Norwich City Council cuts plan comes under fire

The city council has come under fire for its cuts consultation exercise.

The city council has come under fire for its cuts consultation exercise.

EDP pics © 2007

Norwich City Council's consultation over how it should make £4.6m of savings has been blasted as "not fit for purpose" - by councillors who have started their own survey to ask the public where cuts should be made.

City Hall recently launched its Your Services, Your Say consultation, outlining ways to save money over the next year.

Officers are already looking to save £3.6m by becoming more efficient, new ways of working and cutting service costs, but made a direct appeal to the public to help find £600,000 worth of savings.

The council asked the public to rank in order of importance £1m worth of cuts, including cleaning streets just once a month and cutting Christmas lights.

More than 600 people have filled in the survey, but Liberal Democrats in Norwich, critical of the council’s approach, have launched their own consultation on where savings could be made.

James Wright, deputy leader of the Lib Dem group at City Hall, said: “We were so disappointed with the council’s effort that we decided to design and launch our own consultation. Unlike the council we did not employ, at the taxpayers’ expense, a private company to do it for us.

“The council’s consultation is not fit for purpose. The questionnaire is a flawed document that only gives the public a say on certain hand-picked issues.

“It ignores the real questions over the salary of senior management at City Hall, the council’s expensive communications team, and the £1.6m bill for private consultants.

“Their consultation gives people a say on saving £9,000 on litter bins, but it doesn’t give them a say on the chief executive’s £125,000 salary.”

But Brenda Arthur, leader of the city council, said the Lib Dems were being disingenuous. She said the council had already cut costs by £13.5m in the past three years, including looking closely at all departments and cutting the number of managers.

And she said she did not begrudge a penny top officers earn, saying their expertise, vital to steer the public sector through “vicious cuts”, came at a price.

The Lib Dem survey is at www.consultnorwich.com, while City Hall’s official survey is at www.norwich.gov.uk

Both will run until Wednesday, October 12.

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