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Norfolk County Council Budget: The winners and losers are already starting to emerge

PUBLISHED: 11:15 29 January 2017 | UPDATED: 11:15 29 January 2017

Thirty-eight patrols out of Norfolks 96 lollipop ladies and men had been at risk because of an attempt to cut funding by about £150,000 a year. Picture: Nick Butcher

Thirty-eight patrols out of Norfolks 96 lollipop ladies and men had been at risk because of an attempt to cut funding by about £150,000 a year. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2011

As decision day for Norfolk County Council's budget for the year ahead looms, the winners and losers of County Hall's spending plans are already starting to emerge.

Road crossing patrols, which had been facing the axe because of cuts which had been agreed in last year’s budget look among the winners, at least for now.

Thirty-eight patrols out of Norfolk’s 96 lollipop ladies and men had been at risk because of an attempt to cut funding by about £150,000 a year.

It was hardly a surprise, that, with County Hall elections approaching in May, that councillors have recommended that they get a reprieve.
To axe a road crossing patrol is a very visible cut.

That gap in the road where a man or a woman used to help little children across the road would have been quite a reminder to people heading to the ballot box of the council’s actions.

However, the day before the children’s services committee voted to safeguard those patrols, the adult social care committee made a decision which could also make the consequences of cuts very visible.

Now, nobody is suggesting the adult social care committee has money to burn. There has been a national failure to deal with the added pressures which local councils are having to face.

But it was still a big call by councillors to recommend that more than £5m should be removed from funding for housing support services.

That includes the amount of money available for the council to commission services from organisations such as the YMCA, St Martin’s Housing Trust and The Benjamin Foundation.

Those are all organisations which do wonderful work to prevent people from ending up homeless.

They have helped young people to become independent, housed and off the streets.

It’s no exaggeration to say their work has saved lives.

The argument from the organisations – that prevention is better than cure – was a cogent one.

Yet councillors, including one who had noted the increase in rough sleeping on streets around Norfolk even before the cuts happen, recommended savings which could threaten the future of these services.

The cynic might suggest their decision was perhaps simpler because it will not be the county council which will have to pick up the pieces.

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