Great Yarmouth council faces a bleak financial future and tough years ahead thanks to “unfair” Government formula

PUBLISHED: 17:34 05 February 2014 | UPDATED: 17:34 05 February 2014

Great Yarmouth Town Hall where council officials and members are working hard to balance the books.   Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth Town Hall where council officials and members are working hard to balance the books. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

Cash-strapped Great Yarmouth has issued a bleak warning that it faces even harder years ahead with no guarantee that frontline council services can be protected.

The town has been left “in a hole that is going to swallow it” according to council leader Trevor Wainwright who said the authority had taken one of the biggest financial hits out of all 344 in the UK under an “unfair” Government funding formula.

It meant having to take another close look at an already worked-to-the-bone £13.3m revenue budget (down from £20m in 2010/2011)and recommend hikes in seafront parking and the scrapping of ward budgets.

Although it would probably scrape through the next financial year, officials were preparing to ask residents about their priorities ahead of a more radical cost-cutting exercise which would see non-statutory services like grounds maintenance or toilets come under the spotlight.

Mr Wainwright said dipping into reserves had helped to bridge a £2m shortfall but doing the same in the long term would not be an option and, if the cuts continued as predicted, the gap would be even bigger rising to £5m in five years.

However for the time being the Labour-controlled council had frozen council tax for the fourth year running, remaining at £146.48 per band D equivalent.

“There will be no job losses related to this budget and front line services should be maintained. The general resident of the borough will not notice any difference for now,” Mr Wainwright said.

“But it needs to be expressed that Yarmouth is taking one of the biggest hits in the UK. We feel that the funding formula is completely unfair to places like Great Yarmouth with pockets of deprivation and seasonal unemployment. Why make the people of Great Yarmouth suffer? It is down to the wire now.”

Brian Walker, deputy leader and cabinet member for resources, said the situation was “frightening,” adding: “This is reality, this is dire.” The council had already shed a third of its workforce, re-negotiated contracts and looked into sharing services wherever possible.

However the Labour group remained committed to its election pledge of not sharing a chief executive or senior staff, a move which would probably only save “a minimal” £50,000 and see decision-making taken out of the borough.

He said: “We feel it is important to have a chief executive in the borough. We do not want anyone in south Lincolnshire deciding what cuts should be made here.”

Although the council was confident its bid for a £1.9m efficiency support grant - which ensures no council suffers a reduction in spending power of more than 6.9pc - would be successful, it was money that had to spent with “one arm behind its back” as it had to go towards making savings and not general running costs.

To boost its income and bridge the shortfall the council proposes new parking spaces and a hike in Yarmouth long-stay seafront charges from £3 to £4 for up to four hours and £5 to £6 for more than four hours. There will also be increases for short stay generating an extra £100k overall, but a cut in Gorleston to boost the high street.

The proposals also include the abolition of ward budgets (saving £78k), cutting the budget for special repairs and maintenance (£264k) as well as savings on contracts and additional income generation.

In a statement the council said: “The budget for 2014/15 continues the work that the council has been doing to reduce its overall spending. With no sign of the reductions in central government income ending, the council will be faced with tough choices to make in the next few years. A revised medium term financial strategy will be discussed by the council in March with a view to consulting with the public over the summer.”

The council’s draft budget is due to be considered by the cabinet on February 12 and by full council on February 18.

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  • Yarmouth and Fair do not go hand in hand. The only council in the uk with No housing list. Where people who do wrong prosper whereas people who are good citizens get punished. Why is it yarmouth has no housing list? Why is it migrants can open up businesses as easy as opening a letter? There are a lot of jobsworths at the council who can afford to go on multiple holidays every year, can afford new cars etc. I have no problem with migrants just would honestly like to know what do "Locals" have to do to get houses, businesses etc. This message is bound to be deleted as its oh so controversial no doubt but all i am saying is the truth, wake up council nigh on every house from northgate street to deneside is full of migrants. Explain that.

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    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • this is all thanks to our (not) great mp brandon lewis.

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    Thursday, February 6, 2014

  • "Unfair" really hmm why would anyone want to shell out money on g Yarmouths under performing bungling council so they can create another mismanaged budget. Time to increase effecency folks and pretend your working in the "private sector" which might help you prepare for the day you all have to find real jobs. Of course the cut back may have the innocent effect of making g Yarmouth a less desirable destination for the unemployable. Wahoooo

    Report this comment

    Paul Morley

    Saturday, February 8, 2014

  • With regards to paul Morley's comments, I have worked in the 'private sector' in the oil industry and am staggered at the amount of waste, no wonder we pay £1.40 per litre for petrol! If this was local authority or government waste then it would be an easy target but as it is the private sector nobody says anything even though we pay the price.

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    Saturday, February 8, 2014

  • I think scrapping the ward budgets should be done, if the article in April 2013 is to be believed, 39 wards but only 29 spent their £2,000 allocation. Doesn't sound a lot but it is as stated in the article, a saving of £78.000. The council could also make a saving by not planting flowers etc, 2 or 3 times a year, if they put in two sets of annual plants, one's that bloom between spring and autumn, every year, they wouldn't then need to replace them and would save a few thousand pounds there when you consider the amount of flowers they have to buy, I have always thought it a waste of money to keep digging up the plants and replacing them with ones that will be dug up a few months later, totally daft.

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    Wednesday, February 5, 2014

  • These cuts do good because yarmouth shouldn't be throwing money around like a drunk roughneck on pay day. Hopefully these cuts will make the freeloaders and springer go someplace else for a handout. Although, the council could make some money by being easier to work with an friendlier to business. I call for that betting shop to go in at the YMCA charity shop. Also, the citizens of yarmouth should stop their whining. When businesses like betting shops or shops that want to knock down eyesore like the two bears come in we should be welcoming them with open arms not complaining and trying to drive them off. Great Yarmouth and its citizens are in need of money, so we are in no position to pick and choose what business come in.

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    Sunday, February 9, 2014

  • 1) Job losses should be at the forefront of this council, especially all the jobsworths. 2) Stop bowing to every whim of council tennents who phone up just because their light bulb has blown and demand them to replace it. 3) Sell off ALL council housing. 4) Cut the number of councillors. Bradwell N does not require three of them. We dont even get to see one of them, and abolish parish councils especially Bradwell parish council. If it is not one of their "pet" projects, then they do not want to know.

    Report this comment


    Thursday, February 6, 2014

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