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Norfolk County Council budget to reduce by £34m - with tax freeze also backed

PUBLISHED: 16:07 18 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:13 19 February 2013

County Hall.

County Hall.

Sarah Cocke

County councillors have today approved proposals to reduce spending by £34m - putting up to 200 jobs at risk - and freeze council tax in 2013/14.

The Conservative budget plans voted through at Norfolk County Council also included several amendments including £500,000 for rural transport and £1m to build houses on council-owned land.

Opposition Green Party, Liberal Democrat and Labour amendments all failed to receive approval.

Acting council leader Bill Borrett’s approved amendments are to spend: £1m of new homes bonus funding to build new houses on county council-owned land now judged surplus to requirements; £250,000 over two years to try and attract “in as much EU funding as possible” to Norfolk; £500,000 to improve booking, ticketing, service information for rural transport, plus in making dial a ride “more efficient and responsive” to “very rural areas”; £250,000 on the Norse apprenticeship scheme; £50,000 to support apprenticeships in “very small” county businesses; £250,000 for vulnerable children and young people safeguarding services; £25,000 for the Armed Forces Community Covenant; and £10,000 extra for public rights of way, specifically a new Norfolk trail link between Thetford and King’s Lynn.

Charity Nelson’s Journey, which supports bereaved children and young people, will also be given £250,000 toward its Smiles Houses appeal. This aims to raise £597,000 to provide accommodation to allow the charity to expand and provide more services to meet rising demand.

The Lib Dems had proposed increasing a fund for school support and school improvement from £1m to £3m, creating an Olympic Legacy fund of £1m, providing £500,000 to support care volunteers and £150,000 to ensure 60pc of Norfolk’s public rights of network could be cut twice a year.

Their sources of cash for the funding included reducing councillors’ allowances by £110,000, cutting the communications budget by £292,000, decreasing the chairman’s budget by £20,000 and a £228,000 cut of the planning, performance and partnership budget.

Labour suggested developing a £1.5m project to create a new organisation within Norse to build houses. The plan, funded by an underspend by the authority, aimed to develop 100 houses a year for the first three years to allow people to live in the places they grew up in.

The Green Party asked for mental health services and schools to be protected. They suggested using £2.5m from the Norwich northern bypass reserve and a council tax increase of 1.95pc to fund these services.

For more on the budget, see tomorrow’s papers.

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