Opposition to £1m cut in fixing Norfolk’s roads

PUBLISHED: 06:30 15 January 2014

County councillors raised concerns that cuts to the highways maintenance budget will lead to more potholes.

County councillors raised concerns that cuts to the highways maintenance budget will lead to more potholes.

We need to think again before slashing £1m from the budget for maintenance on Norfolk’s roads - that was one of the messages from county councillors after discussing proposals to make cuts.

Norfolk County Council’s controlling Labour/Liberal Democrat administration has put forward £140m of cuts for the next three years, through its Putting People First Consultation.

They say those cuts are needed because reductions in funding from the government means the council has to plug a £189m financial hole.

At yesterday’s meeting of the environment, transport and development committee, councillors got the chance to look at what the public think of some of the proposed cuts.

Among the savings proposed are:

• Cutting the cost of providing school transport to save £330,000

• Reducing the subsidy for the CoastHopper bus service by £150,000 over two years

• Reducing highway maintenance for one year to save £1m.

• Charging at some recycling centres and reducing some of their opening hours.

Overall, there were 2,583 responses to the proposals relating to the environment, transport, development and waste portfolio, with the recycling centre charges and opening times, plus the CoastHopper cuts, the proposals which sparked most responses.

Officers said Stagecoach was taking over running the CoastHopper service in the summer and negotiations over a service in the winter were ongoing.

Charging for recycling and taking £1m out of the highways maintenance budget sparked concern among councillors. Conservative Martin Wilby said: “The main concern is pot holes and we are very concerned about cutting £1m from that budget. For me it would be a good thing if we could prevent cutting that money.”

The committee agreed to make clear to the cabinet that the panel is against the £1m saving from the highways maintenance budget; the reduction in refilling grit bins; the recycling charges and that the parish council contribution to schemes under the parish partnership fund - a scheme which hands out cash for small highways projects - should remain at 25pc.

Labour county councillor Bert Bremner attacked that recommendation, saying that the council had no choice but to make cuts, no matter how unpalatable, and accused those who voted for it of “not living in reality”.

The council’s cabinet will consider the panel’s recommendation when it meets on Monday, January 27.

• What’s your view on the decision? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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