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UPDATED: Norfolk County Council sets out £60m of cuts

PUBLISHED: 16:26 14 February 2011 | UPDATED: 14:08 15 February 2011

Decision day on council cuts and campaigners from the Coalition Against The Cuts protest outside County Hall.

Decision day on council cuts and campaigners from the Coalition Against The Cuts protest outside County Hall.

Archant © 2011; 01603 772434

Norfolk County Council has today given the green light to £60m worth of cuts in the next 12 months and around 1,000 job losses.

Norfolk County Council has today given the green light to £60m worth of cuts in the next 12 months and around 1,000 job losses.

At a heated meeting which lasted almost five hours, 51 councillors voted in favour of the budget, with 21 against and one abstention.

In a speech, delayed after protesters were evicted from the meeting, leader Derrick Murphy said the budget was the “most significant” since the council was formed in 1974 and said cuts would start to bite in the next six weeks.

The council has frozen its share of the council tax.

He said feedback from around 9,000 people and organisations who took part in the Big Conversation had been listened to and stressed that the budget would continue protecting the most vulnerable children, young people and older people as well as continue to support schools, keep people safe, maintain highways and support libraries and the arts.

He told the council that he had made some ‘very important’ additions to his original budget report to Cabinet and these included:

• £900,000 for a youth investment fund to help build the capacity of groups including youth clubs, faith groups and parish councils.

• £21m of the council’s £29.35m early intervention grant would be used to support community-based children’s centres and provide continued support for Early Years provision across Norfolk. Around £2.6m for the council’s short breaks for disabled children programme with a further £800,000 used to develop the council’s family intervention programme.

• A grant of £1.28m would help fund 12 new fire engines over the next two years

Mr Murphy said: “This is a tough budget, but I believe a fair one, even though it cannot be without pain. None of us should be surprised at the passion generated by our budget proposals, expressed during the course of the Big Conversation.

“People are rightly passionate about their county and their services and their jobs. It is that concern, that passion, that makes Norfolk the county it is. But needs must, and those needs are very great indeed.”

Amendeded budgets were put forward by opposition group the Liberal Democrats and the Green and Labour parties.

The Liberal Democrats called for greater support for young people, and cuts in councillor allowances and senior officer’s pay.

Paul Morse, Liberal Democrat leader, accused the council of targeting young people and urged the council to consider his party’s plan for a sell off of some county farm land to offset some cuts in children’s services.

“This attack on young people is going to have dire consequences for communities.

He said: “We will see higher school absenteeism, higher levels of antisocial behaviour, higher teenage pregnancy rates.”

He warned of a “forgotten generation” of young people who would have no stake in society.

“That is dangerous territory”, he said.

The Green Party said they had “realistic” and “progressive” proposals as they put their budget plans to Norfolk County Council.

In his speech, leader Phil Hardy said £1.38m could be saved each year by reducing salaries for high earners and £750,000 by ceasing work on the NDR.

Funding for the Unthank Centre, Bittern Line and youth services would be saved, he said.

Fellow Green councillor Marcus Hemsley said: “At a time when we are looking at cuts to the most vulnerable, talking about cuts from these high earners is a reasonable solution.”

Richard Edwards, Green councillor for Mile Cross, said that cutting funding to the Unthank Centre would have an impact on vulnerable people in Norwich .

• See tomorrow’s EDP and Evening News for the full story


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