HARD pressed Town Hall bosses claim they are being blackmailed into changing their leadership in order to take advantage of a much-needed pot of government cash, as they face further budget cuts.

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The coalition announced this week that Great Yarmouth Borough Council could receive an extra £1.8m funding in the wake of scrapping its two-year transitional fund that left it with a 19pc cut to its budget - the biggest of any authority in the UK.

But to receive the cash boost from the newly introduced efficiency support grant, local government minister - and the town’s MP - Brandon Lewis said town hall leaders must agree to share management, a move that local Labour members pledged not to do when they were elected in May, sparking cries they are being blackmailed into getting their hands on the extra funding.

Brian Walker, deputy leader, said: “We’re doing well (in making savings) and we feel really it’s an act of blackmail by Eric Pickles (communities secretary) and Brandon Lewis to get what they want.”

Leader Trevor Wainwright described the support grant as a “carrot” and added: “I think we can put forward a compelling business case to get £1.8m but we’re still going to take a huge hit.”

Both he and Mr Walker reaffirmed their decision not to share management with Breckland and South Holland councils as they said it would only save £160,000 as they face having to make £10m worth of cuts in the next three years.

But Mr Lewis defended the support grant and said that there were other opportunities for authority’s like Yarmouth to boost their coffers, through new homes bonuses and business rates from enterprise zones.

“We’re not going to leave these councils just hanging out there, we can’t do that. But they have got to start moving towards a more modern way of working,” he said.

“We want councils to deliver the best, most efficient services they can because it’s tax payers’ money and we want to make sure local peoples’ money is being spent efficiently.”

Mr Lewis stressed that he wanted to “make sure” the people of Yarmouth got a share of the support grant to ensure a council tax freeze and hoped the borough council would “get behind” the opportunities being offered to them.

The borough council already shares legal and IT services with Norfolk County Council, as well as internal audits, and is working on slashing its budget through a staffing restructure and examining contracts.

Mr Wainwright said the authority was working to tackle budget woes and was confident it could put forward a case for a share of the support grant.

“I think the message to residents is steady as she goes, we’re addressing the problems,” he added.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Write to Letters, Great Yarmouth Mercury, 169 King Street, Yarmouth, NR30 2PA or email anne.edwards@archant.co.uk

12 comments

  • Lets hope at the next elections the people of Great Yarmouth give Brandon Lewis exactly what he deserves.

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    John L Norton

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

  • Come on John , he is no worse than Wright, who if I recall correctly never voted contrary to the Labour whip and just turned up at events to gurn at the camera while Yarmouth sank into the mire. Neither party has done any good for Yarmouth They both neglect the fabric of the town, the Tories chuck money at their mates in the tourist industry and Labour at the people they think will vote for them.And the poor old council tax payers in the wider borough wonder what on earth they get for their money. Which is why, despite the worst excesses of NCC I supported a single authority for Norfolk in the hope that it might have been better than the dire unchanging lot we have in Yarmouth. If any of the councillors had any guts they would be standing up and asking why the town is being inundated with unemployed EU and Third World migrants-and asking questions about what agency is encouraging them to move to the town to suck yet more money into the deprived areas and away from services for other residents.

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

  • Daisy roots - You are spot on. The busing in of EU migrants and people whose sole income comes from benefits, whose home towns and cities are more than glad to see the back end of them, have combined to make Gt Yarmouth nothing more than a dump. People who work here don`t want to live here and who can blame them. Those of us that do live in the Borough see the waste every day. The only people on my street to have extraordinary outside display of christmas lights are, you have guessed it, those families who haven`t had a family member in work for years. It really winds me up when left wing politicians keep on making excuse after excuse for these people as if they are somehow hard done by and have a life no better than the "Dickensian" poor.

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    BG

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • Isn't this just typical of a Tory MP, more concerned about his party and his position than his constituents. But, of course, we need to remember that he is not even local to the area so why should he care about the people of Yarmouth. Roll on the next election so we can boot him out.

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    Nigel

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • Regeneration money stolen for the seafront. council tax money stolen for the seafront and Yarmouth, none left for Gorleston and surrounding areas. Perhaps they dont want to share the services as the truth will come out about all the little fiddles and mismanagement of regeneration money, and the useless council jobsworths would be frightened for their jobs.

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    "V"

    Sunday, December 23, 2012

  • How despicable of Brandon Lewis to threaten to punish his own constituents by making them the bait in his sordid little game of party political blackmail.Usually,when an MP is made a minister it proves to be of benefit to his constituency but in Lewis' case the opposite is the case.On occasions,the trappings of power prove too seductive so they lose touch with the reality of their constituents lives,which may well explain Lewis' behaviour toward the people he is supposed to represent.I repeat.Despicable.

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    Peter Watson

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

  • I don't think it's anywhere near as black and white as you lot seem to think. The bottom line is there's no money in the pot, regardless of who our MP is or what party heshe is affiliated to. They're nudging the town hall leaders to share services as (contentious I know) it's going to be more cost effective in these austere times.

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    Tim

    Friday, December 21, 2012

  • Of course GYBC has to be attacked, they're the wrong political flavour. This is the message loud and clear. When Labour was in government nationally the Tory councils opposed at every turn, now the Tories are in Downing Street they play the same game attacking Labour controlled local authorities.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

  • Lets face it neither party has done Great Yarmouth any good. They just seem hell bent on running the town right down.. No shops.. jumped up parking fee's.. sign's that point to nowhere.. ports that don't work..oh we could go on..!!

    Report this comment

    marshall

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

  • 19% short fall worst in UK. I think that tells us all what we have known for years. Awful management, any real business would have bankrupted there company years ago.

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    Paul Morley

    Sunday, December 23, 2012

  • The managed decline of GY has been followed through by successive governments and councils of all colours.The same agenda has also been played out on many other town and cities across Britain

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Saturday, December 22, 2012

  • Nice to hear Bill Borrett on Radio Norfolk today 'giving back' £2m of OUR money into community projects with another £1.5m promised before March... despite his council sucking money AWAY from the elderly and vulnerable to pay for his pet incinerator. That'll be as a bribe in the hope we all vote for the Tories again in May yeah?

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

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