Get ready for council tax hike in Norfolk as councillors greenlight cuts package
PUBLISHED: 11:39 08 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:04 08 February 2016
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016
People in Norfolk look set for a council tax increase after councillors recommended a hike to head off cuts to frontline services.
Norfolk County Council’s committees have been considering proposals which would save £123m over the next three years, as it looks to plug a £111m spending gap.
But in recommending a budget to full council for the next financial year, the authority’s policy and resources committee today ruled the most controversial cuts could be avoided if tax rises by 3.99pc.
That would still mean £42m of savings would be made next year, largely from the back office.
It is understood that could mean a number of redundancies, although the council has not put a figure on how many.
And in the following two years, a further £29.7m and £42.5m of savings will have to be made.
But a number of controversial proposals have been recommended to be abandoned. A final decision rests with full council, which meets on February 22.
If agreed it would mean:
• Fire stations which were under threat, including Heacham and one of either West Walton or Outwell, will not be closed and cuts to cover in Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and King’s Lynn would not be made.
• Proposals to take £5.1m out of Suppporting People services, which provides preventative care for vulnerable people would be ditched.
• Plans for the council to stop paying for transport for social care users, such as older people attending day services will be scrapped.
• Cuts to the council’s Historic Environment Service, including a service which identifies archaeological finds, introduce lone working at a number of museums would be avoided.
• Bank Holiday reopening of Norfolk’s recycling centres, the full time opening of Ashill, Heacham and Morningthorpe recycling centres and the reopening of Docking will be assured.
The committee recommended that the County Hall’s share of the council tax would be increased by 3.99pc, including 2pc specifically to be used for adult social care.
That would add around 88p extra a week on their council bills - the first hike in County Hall’s share in five years.
Dan Roper, Liberal Democrat deputy leader, said: “We are at a point where we can confidently say, this year, the time is right to raise the council tax, that people have said in the consultation they want services protected and we are able to do that more satisfactorily with a council tax increase.”
Before today’s meeting, there was a protest outside County Hall. Members of disability charity Equal Lives, the Fire Brigades Union, Unison and the Norfolk People’s Assembly had urged councillors against cuts.
And during the meeting, there were angry outbursts from members of the public, who accused councillors of being “in a bubble” and not understanding the impact of their cuts.