A political row between Great Yarmouth’s ruling parties has deepened after the town’s Tory MP accused Labour councillors of “squealing with indignation” over a funding cut he has personally overseen.

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But the councillors have retaliated to the comments from Brandon Lewis and said they have been left with a gaping deficit by the previous “incompetent” Tory administration which - along with the coalition’s decision to hack their funding by 19pc - was now forcing them to make stringent savings.

And some residents have also hit back at the under-fire MP claiming he is “more concerned about his party and his position than his constituents” with a senior county council leader calling for him to resign from his post as local government minister.

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council’s Labour group, described Mr Lewis’ actions as “absolutely extraordinary” and said: “I cannot understand how any self respecting MP can stand there and do this to his own constituency. It beggars belief and it just turns upside down the entire concept of having your local member fighting for you.”

Mr Lewis has been thrown into the spotlight in the wake of the announcement that Yarmouth was facing the biggest funding cut in the country compounded by the scrapping of the transition fund, which was introduced to help the authority prepare for working on a smaller budget.

Mr Lewis said he had “persuaded” the government to introduce the parachute payments to help councils in areas like Yarmouth and hit out at the backlash sparked by the decision to scrap it.

He added: “Labour’s response to the grant ending is to squeal with indignation. Instead of getting their own house into order they want to continue to spend and spend.”

But Yarmouth Borough Council leader Trevor Wainwright was angered by his comments as he said the transition fund, worth £7m, had been squandered by the previous Tory authority. Labour took control of the council in May this year.

He said: “They had the transition money for two years and they didn’t do anything with that, it was just business as usual. They just assumed a magic tie up with Breckland and South Holland (councils to share management) was going to be the saviour of everything, and quite clearly the only identified saving from that was about £160,000. In the scheme of things, that’s peanuts, and there was no plan B.

“We came in in May and identified this huge financial hole and we’re having to deal with it. It’s a legacy of the previous Tory administration.”

The cash-strapped authority has been offered some financial reprieve through the newly introduced efficiency support grant, from which they could receive £1.8m.

But in order to get the cash boost they must agree to share management, a move Labour members have pledged not to do and which was part of their election manifesto, sparking cries they are being blackmailed.

They are now planning on presenting an alternative case to get a share of the grant and Mr Lewis has said he will support them - on condition.

He added: “If Labour councillors stop avoiding the need to make massive changes to backroom operations then they will get my support for additional funding. Councils across the country are taking on this challenge for the benefit of their residents.”

Mr Lewis also hit back at claims he is targeting his own constituents saying he is “honoured” to represent Yarmouth and fought to promote it, but would not be drawn on the calls for him to resign as minister.

He said he hopes the borough council will now work to “deliver the efficiencies” that will help all residents and members will “take advantage of the extra £1.8m they can use for the benefit of Great Yarmouth”.

Mr Wainwright said he and his members were now working to deal with the funding gaps by restructuring the authority, reviewing contracts and coming up with ideas to generate income.

“We’re trying desperately to address the deficit and I’m sure we will but it’s not going to be easy,” he added.

13 comments

  • I think I can guess who that is Maryjane. A true conviction politician! As for Brandon Lewis - he got his seat because of who his children's godfather is. Not going to work a second time. Pity about the headline though. For one moment I thought it was the County Council Leader not the County Council Labour Leader who had made the statement. Now that would have been interesting. Murphy opens mouth and shoves foot in yet again. Oh well, one can dream.

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    Electra

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • Labour only got in Yarmouth thanks to UKIP so to say they have a mandate to do anything is risible. But knowing them, they will soon cut services. they will do away with the mayor again and rent the pier out to a comedian for a £1 a year. We have been here before and know what to expect - unfortunately!

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    BG

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • DaveG - you seem to not understand what Local Government spends it money on and why. Why not just swot up on the facts before making such absurd statements. Lucan

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    Lord

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • He is doing his bit for the hard working tax payers of Great Yarmouth who see most of their money being spent on foolhardy schemes and benefits. Nationally, the country was left in a big hole dug by the previous Government and areas like Yarmouth and Waveney where there are unfortunately a large amount of people on benefits received way too much money. This has to be addressed. It has been proven that you cannot spend your way out of debt

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    DaveG

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • Does any notice how Brandon Lewis keeps refering to his constituency as `Yarmouth` and not Great Yarmouth???? Mabe this is because he bought his seat here and only turns up when he needs votes or to slag off the current council as it is not his colour! One day they will see that they all need to work together in harmony for us people of Great Yarmouth.

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    bloater&proud

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • DaveG - you seem to not understand what Local Government spends it money on and why. Why not just swot up on the facts before making such absurd statements. Lucan

    Report this comment

    Lord

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • Joy-It took H Bellingham a long time to do that and after a great deal of nagging from certain Conservative voters - even then he praised Murphy as an outstanding councillor and sent him on a jolly to the T&C islands-he is just another MP who starts working for his constituents in preparation for .next election-there is another star on the horizon who is going to give him a hard time and I hope many will back her-even erstwhile conservatives.

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    maryjane

    Monday, December 31, 2012

  • The Labour government succeeded in making Yarmouth the benefit capital of the East. It`s just a tussle between Labour, who want to look after their core voters by keeping them in the style they have become accustomed and a Coalition government who are trying to make the welfare system fairer. Nationally Labour are starting to listen as they know benefits are a vote loser for them. However locally they are still living in the dark ages and I don`t foresee any change.

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    BG

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • This guy sounds like a real B'stard.

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    Z:)

    Sunday, December 30, 2012

  • This man is not trying to represent those who voted him into power his only interest is enforcing Tory policy by imposing impossible financial targets on the coucil and hardship on his electorate. Those who will suffer are the ordinary people dependent on public services. Lewis is OK, he will not be affected in the ivory tower he has built, at least not until the next election! The only MP that seems to realise if you fail to represent your electorate you will very quickly be booted out of your lucrative position of power at the next election is Henry Bellingham.

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    Joy, King's Lynn

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • He has no chance of being re-elected at the next general election and he must know this, so he is grabbing what he can, like any good Tory. Keep his job in government by pandying to Tory central office strategy (must punish Gt Yarmouth for voting in a Labour council) and to hell with his constituents. Then again, serves them right for electing him in the first place.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Friday, December 28, 2012

  • The forthcoming public inquiry will hopefully show what party politicians failed to address in the past, whether Freemasons will have to indicate their split loyalties, before they conduct themselves in public, as their part in the Bryn Estyn inquiry showed this to be a necessity, will have to be seen.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Saturday, December 29, 2012

  • Have people finally realised that the Essex boy has done nothing that would benifit the hard working tax payer of Yarmouth that once had the honor of having Great in front of it except line himself up with a cushy job.

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    loco

    Friday, December 28, 2012

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