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People in Norfolk look set to pay 6pc more in council tax to County Hall

A council tax bill. Picture: Denise Bradley

A council tax bill. Picture: Denise Bradley

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People in Norfolk look likely to be paying nearly 6pc more in council tax to County Hall.

Norfolk County Council today recommended its budget for next year, which includes the tax hike.

The budget includes some £30m of savings, but some of the most controversial proposals, including cuts to bus subsidies and gritting routes, will not be taken forward.

The Conservative-controlled council had been consulting over a potential £500,000 cut to the £2.7m subsidy it gives bus operators and community transport providers, as it wrestles with ways to plug a multi million pound spending gap by 2021/22, which now stands at £93m.

There was also a proposed £200,000 cut to gritting.

But the council’s policy and resources committee agreed to recommend the 5.99pc increase, taking advantage of a government change to how much can be levied before a referendum is triggered.

Of the 5.99pc, 3pc will be specifically for adult social care,but some will be used to head off the gritting and subsidy cuts.

Such a rise will increase the county council’s share of band D bills by £74.74 per year, to £1,322.68.

Bills in Norfolk are made up of shares for the county, city/district/borough councils, the police and, where they exist, to town and parish councils.

The budget proposals still include remodelling of services, which could see libraries and children’s centres combined in the same properties.

And there will be a drive to save money by trying to keep people independent in their own homes, rather than in residential homes.

Dan Roper, leader of the Liberal Democrat group raised concerns that the budget gap was only going to be closed by about £7m in the year ahead.

He said: “I think it shows the level of squeeze being put on local government by national government and that is going to continue.

“Year one was probably the easiest of the years to make savings in and I fear we will now be faced with trying to squeeze three years of savings into two years.”

Alison Thomas, Conservative deputy leader of the council, said: “Despite the fact that we are setting a budget which talks about having to make savings, there is clearly investment, such as £18.5m into children’s services.

“I think that sends a very strong message, on the back of the recent Ofsted inspection, that we are supporting investment in children’s services and ensuring outcomes for children in Norfolk is on an upwards trajectory.”

Martin Wilby, Conservative chairman of the environment, development and transport committee, said the removal of the bus subsidy and gritting cut proposals showed the council had listened to the views expressed in the cosnultation process.”

The full council will have the final decision on the budget next month.

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