Great Yarmouth councillors make last ditch effort to reverse 19pc funding cut
11:55 11 January 2013
Archant © 2011
Cash strapped councillors have made a last ditch effort to reverse their fortunes after agreeing to write to the government and ask it to reconsider a decision to slash their funding.
Town hall bosses at Great Yarmouth Borough Council passed a motion to write to local government secretary Eric Pickles and ask him to “urgently reconsider” his department’s decision to hack their funding by 19pc - the largest cut to any authority in the country.
The Labour-led motion was passed by a thin majority of 19:18 after all Tory members voted against it, saying the council needed to “live in the real world”.
Through their letter to Mr Pickles the council will also ask that he reverse the “conditions” attached to the £1.8m efficiency support grant, which has been offered to the borough as an antidote to the budget cut but will only be awarded if it agrees to share management - a move Labour leaders pledged not to do when they were elected, sparking cries they are being blackmailed.
Council leader Trevor Wainwright tabled the motion with support from Hilary Wainwright, Brian Walker, Bernard Williamson and mayor Colleen Walker at a meeting last night (Thursday).
He said: “In May the electorate spoke and rejected the previous (Tory) administration’s ill thought out plan to share senior management with Breckland and South Holland. For that the residents of this borough are being punished.
“What we’re being told however, is that if we adhere to certain conditions laid down by the Department for Communities and Local Government we could, subject to presenting a compelling business case, receive a bribe of £1.8m.
“Out of 360 councils in the country only seven are being singled out for this type of treatment and having this enforced upon them, what’s fair about that?”
He had hoped all members would vote in favour but Tory councillors spoke out against the motion and Ron Hanton led the call for it to be rejected.
He rebuffed suggestions the council was being blackmailed and said as well as planning to share management, his party had been taking strides to make the authority more cost effective.
“We need to stop our political posturing and points grabbing and concentrate with important matter,” he added. “We need to make sure Great Yarmouth Borough Council is fit for purpose providing an excellent service at the lowest possible cost.”
The same motion will be tabled by Labour members at Norfolk County Council’s full meeting on Monday, and Mr Wainwright said he would be asking borough and district councils across the county to put forward similar calls as they “can see the damage being done” to Yarmouth through the funding cut.