Friday, January 4, 2013
COUNTY leaders are being urged to unite and call upon the government to reverse a decision to hack funding to Great Yarmouth’s cash-strapped council.
All members of Norfolk County Council (NCC) will be asked to support a motion that the authority write to Eric Pickles, Local Government Secretary, and call for him to “urgently reconsider” the planned 19pc cut to Yarmouth’s budget.
The motion, which is due to go before members on January 14, has been put forward by George Nobbs, leader of NCC’s Labour group, and seconded by Yarmouth’s Mayor Colleen Walker.
The pair also ask that Mr Pickles reverse the “conditions” attached to the £1.8m efficiency support grant, which has been offered to the borough council as an antidote to the budget cut it is facing, but will only be awarded if it agrees to share management - a move Labour leaders pledged not to do when they were elected in May, sparking cries they are being blackmailed.
The motion adds: “We believe that it would be very regrettable if the impression were given that the level of government support was influenced by, or sought to influence, the democratic decision of the local electorate.”
Mr Nobbs said the motion was not being used to grind a political axe and thought it was one all members - whatever their party - could vote in favour of.
“What we’re trying to do is what Norfolk County Council should always do: support our local communities when they’re in difficulty and every councillor should be happy to do that,” he added.
“All I want is the decision reversed because it seems unnecessarily cruel to Great Yarmouth. It has so many problems to put up with and it does try its best. Some people may say the mayor shouldn’t be involved with this but I see it as a non party motion.”
Mr Nobbs called on Yarmouth’s Tory MP Brandon Lewis to resign as local government minister after he personally oversaw the budget cut.
But Mr Nobbs said the motion was not a political attack and would not mind if Mr Lewis “has a change of heart” and supported it. He added: “Yarmouth has enough external things to fight, the last thing it wants is one of its own against it. You would expect everyone in Yarmouth, and Norfolk, to be rooting for the town.”
If the motion is passed at NCC’s full meeting, the chief executive will write to Mr Pickles on behalf of the authority.