‘Publicity stunt’ claim over Great Yarmouth funding row

PUBLISHED: 11:20 15 January 2013 | UPDATED: 11:20 15 January 2013

County councillor George Nobbs is leading the motion

County councillor George Nobbs is leading the motion

Archant © 2008

The increasingly bitter row about cuts to funding for Great Yarmouth Borough Council has shifted to County Hall, where the council refused to back a motion calling for the government to rethink the reduction.

The borough council’s grant from the government has been cut by 19pc, but the authority has been told it could get an extra £1.8m through an “efficiency support grant”.

However, conditions attached to that grant include that town hall leaders must agree to share management, a move which Labour members pledged not to do when they took control of the council in May.

They claimed they are being blackmailed by the government, and Yarmouth’s MP Brandon Lewis, a local government minister, into doing what the Conservatives had set out to do when they were in control.

The Conservatives had been on the brink of a three-way merger with South Holland and Breckland Councils, but Labour pulled the plug on the partnership when they seized control.

The borough council last week passed a motion to write to local government secretary Eric Pickles asking him to “urgently reconsider” his department’s decision to slash their funding and to take away the conditions attached to the support grant.

The row over the funding switched to County Hall on Monday, when the same motion which the borough council agreed was put by Labour group leader George Nobbs, was rejected.

Mr Nobbs said: “Norfolk - and this council that we are proud to be members of - claims to pride itself on Doing Different but that seems to be very selective these days. It doesn’t seem to apply to the citizens of our ancient seaport. They have to do as they are told.”

Colleen Walker, Labour county councillor for Magdalen division, said: “We have been presented with the worst settlement in the whole country. I think this is a travesty and an outright injustice.”

She said she hoped Mr Lewis would enjoy his one-term as Yarmouth’s MP, accusing him of “hanging around Westminster with his best friend Mr Pickles to further his political career”.

But Barry Stone, Conservative county and borough councillor for Lothingland, dismissed the motion as a “publicity stunt” and said Labour “seems intent on bankrupting the borough”.

He said: “When the Conservative administration was in place there were moves in place to save money and we put forward viable options to increase the economic development of Great Yarmouth. That has been wiped away by the Labour group.”

And Graham Plant, who represents Breydon division on the county council and Bradwell North on the borough council, said: “Great Yarmouth Labour group should concentrate on using taxpayers’ money properly, rather than being self serving.”

The motion was defeated by 43 votes to 17, with four members abstaining.

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