Council cuts of almost £140m over the next three years have moved a significant step closer.

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The controlling Labour/Liberal Democrat cabinet at Norfolk County Council met today to discuss the cuts and agreed to recommend them to full council.

If approved by the full council, it will mean a wide range of cuts across all Norfolk County Council services.

It will lead to the loss of hundreds of council jobs.

From reductions in library staff and school crossing patrols to less money to fix roads and charging for recycling, the proposals were outlined in a consultation called Putting People First.

Two of the most contentious proposals were to cut subsidies for transport for 16 to 19 year old students and to reduce spending on personal budgets in adult social services.

The cabinet has suggested a year’s stay of execution for those cuts, although the savings will still have to be made over the three years.

An extra £3m, as previously agreed, will go into the troubled children’s services department.

The £308.3m budget for next year is predicated on a freeze for council tax.

James Joyce, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “It is extremely difficult, pressured times for all councils at the moment.”

The full council will consider the proposals and set a budget when it meets on February 17.

Steve Morphew, cabinet member for finance, said he hoped to avoid a “political bunfight” over the budget. He said: “We are trying to put together a budget for the whole of the county and the council. We need to make sure we have got something manageable and governable.

“I hope we will be able to come up with a proposal to go to council which has a good degree of consensus.”

He said longer-term planning was difficult because of “shifting sands” and uncertainty over how the government will fund local councils in the future.

But Bill Borrett, leader of the Conservative opposition, said he remained concerned that the £140m of cuts did not fully plug the funding gap, with millions left to find in the longer term.

He pointed to reports from the council’s interim head of finance as highlighting a greater need for long-term planning.

He said: “From managing the capital budget to managing the county’s level of debt, this Labour/Lib Dem administration has failed to show proper leadership and now even their own interim head of finance has had to intervene in public and call for proper budget planning.

“The Conservatives always managed the county’s finances prudently and to see 12 years of hard work being wasted is galling and bad news for the residents of Norfolk.”

Richard Bearman, leader of the Green group, said his group still had concerns about the cuts to personal budgets. He said: “Our view remains that this is not a budget which is good for anyone in receipt of council services.”

Protestors against the cuts - including from union UNISON and the Norfolk People’s Assembly - gathered outside County Hall ahead of yesterday’s meeting.

Speaking afterwards, David Peel, from the Norfolk People’s Assembly, said: “County councillors are struggling with the symptoms instead of tackling the disease. Austerity is crippling the county we love.

“Councillors have to find the courage to face down [communities secretary] Eric Pickles, reject cuts and stand up for the Norfolk people.”

6 comments

  • Mick your so right! Bill Borrett is a disaster as Tory leader! He's got no control over his group and he criticises the good work you are doing without suggesting any alternatives! What a joke! The rumour I've heard is that Cliffy "Iffy" Jordan is waiting in the wings to take over - they'll go from one disaster to another! I have to say I voted Conservative for my local county councillor, and was pleased when she got in, but Borrett, Jordan and friends are disappointing me!

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    Jack Greenacre

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

  • Mick your so right! Bill Borrett is a disaster as Tory leader! He's got no control over his group and he criticises the good work you are doing without suggesting any alternatives! What a joke! The rumour I've heard is that Cliffy "Iffy" Jordan is waiting in the wings to take over - they'll go from one disaster to another! I have to say I voted Conservative for my local county councillor, and was pleased when she got in, but Borrett, Jordan and friends are disappointing me!

    Report this comment

    Jack Greenacre

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

  • I'm so confident Morphew is on the case, look what he did for the city. Just to top things off why are they wasting 32 million on county hall, knock the eyesore down and sell the land for building

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • as the cuts get deeper by the day we hear the news today that labour are trying to force a vote in the commons for Britain to except 30 thousand Syrian refugees . Just where is the money going to come from for this ?

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Monday, January 27, 2014

  • So Tory Leader Bill Borrett thinks the proposed cuts aren't enough? By contrast his Conservative colleagues at the various service overview and scrutiny panels have given general support for the Cabinet proposals which give some protection for Personal Budgets, 16- 19 College transport and Children's Services. Which "line" will they follow at the Full Council meeting on 17th February when Councillors vote on the Budget for the coming year. Not very responsible for someone who aspires to lead again!

    Report this comment

    Mick Castle

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

  • 140 million in cuts on top of other savage cuts . This is why we dont want and cannot afford another labour goverment

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Monday, January 27, 2014

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