Leaders at Norfolk County Council have revealed they could be minded to move away from one of the most contentious measures proposed to plug a £189m funding gap.

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The leaders at Norfolk County Council have also described the looming decision over the proposed incinerator at King’s Lynn as “the elephant in the room”, which could yet trigger consultation on a further £15m worth of cuts. As part of its Putting People First consultation, aimed at saving £140m over the next three years, the council has consulted over a string of cuts and savings.

One is to save £2m by reducing the transport subsidy provided to students aged 16 to 19, which would see a hike in the cost of bus fares for young people travelling to school or college. Just over 4,400 people responded to the consultation, while 1,900 people signed petitions and that reduction was the proposal which garnered the most responses. And Steve Morphew, cabinet member for finance, corporate and personnel, said the administration was ready to take the opposition to the subsidy cuts on board.

He said: “We never wanted to do that in the first place and never tried to defend it.

“We understand that we are a rural county so it does have a disproportionate effect. We understand that it is unfair to introduce it for people who have already started courses and we understand that the subsidy was originally a cost-saving measure because of a reduction in the number of places which offered courses, so the argument that it is unfair is completely reasonable. Our only justification is that it costs us a lot of money and, having got the consultation responses, we realise we need to be satisfied that all other options have been explored before we make a recommendation on whether this should go forward.”

Mr Morphew said the administration was “minded” to put the subsidy reduction on the back burner while more work was done on the proposal.

But he added: “The bottom line is, if we don’t save money there, we will have to save it somewhere else. And the elephant in the room is what decision Eric Pickles will make on the incinerator. That will determine how much money we have to play with. If he says go ahead, then frankly, we have a bit of headroom. But if he comes back and we have to pay compensation, then we will be looking at another £15m of cuts we would have to go out to consultation on.”

The Putting People First consultation results will go before a number of overview and scrutiny panels next month, before the full council agrees a budget for 2014/15 on February 17.

What do you think? Write, including full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

3 comments

  • Catch 22, Since 2006 Costessy talk of incinerators in Norfolk has been costly for the rate payer and councillors. If Eric Pickles allows the incinerator to be built will be a financial burden for Norfolk rate payers for many generations. The environmental agency gave warnings of tidal surges Kings Lynn down to Denver sluice but change of wind direction saved the Willows site from extensive flood damage. Many residents approached the EA a couple of years ago concerns the open (IBA) bottom ash lagoons will be flooded but were told it is unlikely Norfolk will see devastation since 1953 until far into the next century. So much for the EAs modelling software and hope their air quality software is far superior for sakes of all our health. The EU will be making all incinerator operators use the services of independent 24 air quality monitoring companies that cost £ millions. The site is far from perfect not including proximity principle, acute shortage of feedstock and future legislation costs. The site is unusual as the residual waste floor has had to be raised in case of flooding and the chimney raised to try and disperse dioxins over Kings Lynn densely populated Town. NCC may have the recurring incinerator headache 25 years when the contract has to be renewed. They have to decide do they recycle or demolish the none standard incinerator site because of acute shortage of feedstock predicted by Defra when they removed the PFI funding. 25 years on all proposed incinerators are now in full production and districts in the UK and Europe unfortunate to have gone down the incinerator route will be paying penalties to rich USA burner shareholders. Or leave the building dormant like the Kings Lynn power station.

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    batemansusan

    Monday, December 23, 2013

  • This is a rural county. The county council has a responsibility to ensure that all students, no matter what their age, up to A level can get to school. It is not their fault the three largest secondary schools are in south Norwich. Get your act together you lot and apply for extra money. After all not all counties are predominantly rural coupled with thousands of secondary school places being squashed into a square mile of the city, a daft idea that should have been kicked into the long grass a long time ago. The cabinet, who probably didn't avail themselves of an A level education if their ideas are anything to go by should stand aside and let people who know what they are doing take over.

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    alecto

    Saturday, December 28, 2013

  • Agree fully batemansusan, by using the cabinet system to deny debate or choice of what ayatem is best fro Norfolk needs, party politicians discarded the public mandate they had for recycling, they have shut out public scrutiny and chose the most expensive option bypassing our needs. They disregarded better British solutions recycling our resources and now they blame the public for not trusting them and not supporting their ways. NCC is spending 26 million on new IT computers tablets etc. with scant disregard to recycling the barely used laptops they disregarded. Fancy new gizmo's are being purchased to the hollow screams of cuts and how they can't make ends meet. Murphy's legacy will be that he has turned them all into Yankee fodder, the lot of them.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, December 23, 2013

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