Ways to plug Norfolk incinerator compensation bill funding gap revealed, with library books and road repairs in the firing line

The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt. The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
4:55 PM

Plugging the funding gap created by Norfolk County Council’s incinerator compensation bill could mean district councils lose out on a second homes council tax windfall, less money is spent fixing roads or fewer books are bought for libraries.

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The county council voted by 48 votes to 30 to terminate the contract for the proposed incinerator at King’s Lynn at an extraordinary meeting last month.

That left the council having to figure out how to make £8m worth of further savings to cover the likely £30m compensation cost to Cory Wheelabrator, which would have built and run the controversial plant.

The council had already built up a compensation war chest of £19m and had identified £3m from underspends, but officers have now proposed how to cover the rest of the costs.

Some of the money will come from further underspends; £1m from cash which had been set aside for organisational change; £290,000 clawed back from the Icelandic banks; a £500,000 contribution from the council’s arms-length company Norse and £700,000 from the sale of council property.

But officers are recommending two options as to how to save the final £1m. One option would take £900,000 from highways maintenance and spend £140,000 less on library books.

The other would make up the missing £1m or so from about half of the money from council tax on second homes which the county council currently gives to district councils.

That suggestion has angered Nick Daubney, leader of West Norfolk Council, who said that more than £750,000 was currently used to try to raise educational attainment in the borough.

He said: “They’d always said in their budget they were going to phase it out. Now they say they’re going to do it straight away to pay Cory Wheelabrator, it’s not appropriate.

“That money made a big difference to local schools. It was extra training for heads and teachers.”

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council said: “Nobody wanted to have to find this money and we always warned this process would not be without pain.

“Our finance team has done its very best to minimise the direct impact on services for Norfolk people. However, no matter how much we have tried to minimise the impact, it would be foolish to pretend that there won’t be some cuts that will hurt.

“It will be for the council itself to consider these options. All of these are cuts we would not wish to make. We have done our very best to find ways of dealing with this.”

He said, if the council did decide to take the money away from what district councils currently get from the second homes council tax that the amounts removed would be “proportionate”.

West Norfolk Council currently gets £782,000; North Norfolk Council £934,664; Breckland £117,118; Broadland £103,629; Norwich £81,869; Great Yarmouth £110,500 and South Norfolk £137,409.

The £30m compensation bill consists of capped compensation to Cory Wheelabrator of £20.3m, contractor public inquiry costs of £1.6m and exchange rate and interest rate related costs of £8.36m.

The latter costs are likely to have to be paid by the middle of this month, while the rest will have to be paid by July.

The council had already spent £3.5m procuring the contract and £1.7m to buy the site at Saddlebow. That means taxpayers will have paid close to £35m with only a derelict site to show for it.

• What do you think of the incinerator saga? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

22 comments

  • ingo wagenknecht. I can accuse whom I wish much the same as you do every day of your life chum.

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    George Peters

    Thursday, May 8, 2014

  • My other half worked for the public sector for a short while. She was given the task of checking up on progress for certain public sector projects. She would go along and find the project manager doing the crossword, only to be asked "what are you bothering checking up on this for? It's only tax payers money!" Yes that was a phrase she heard a lot while working there. Didn't stay there long someone would have got hurt. They really do play with OUR money.

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    Resident Smith

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

  • Poor old Nick Daubney...certain irony though..

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    Andy T

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

  • I have just been told on the telephone by the Leader's PA that Mr Revell has yet to attend County Hall to collect a laptop computer, and be assigned an e-mail address. Clearly, little is going to happen about the inquiry in the immediate future. This hardly bodes well.

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    John Martin

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

  • There should be a full independent inquiry with the remit to recover as much as possible of the £30+million. Someone somewhere must be responsible for this loss. It could have been the Cabinet at the time [in which case the remaining members should resign] or the professionals [both in house and external] who advised them. The people of Norfolk deserve and should insist on an explanation for this fiasco.

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    Barbara

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

  • Against this dreadful background, what is happening about the much vaunted independent inquiry announced over three weeks ago? Stephen Revell - after his initial comments to the EDP - has returned to obscurity, and will not even provide his contact details so that the public can put submissions to him. Most of us probably have little faith in the exercise, but it is all that is on offer.

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    Nemesis

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

  • Why not postpone some of the work being done on County Hall to save a million (or more preferably in case the shortfall hasn't been calculated properly)? That would be a quick fix,it only means bending a contract!!!

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    bedoomed

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

  • As others have said, Those responsible for signing a contract that didnt have planning, Public Backing, Finance in place should be sacked and deemed unfit to run an office. How the other half live and just laugh at taxpayers who always foot the bill for less services. Is it any wonder we are disallusioned by the whole Governments and Councils who rarely do anything the public wants

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    Jimhow

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • Yet another fine example of county mismanagement, they need to look at back office wastage to start with followed by a reduction in the amount of staff who are doing nothing. Shelve all major works like NDR and get there house in order. They handle over a billion pounds a year and they can't even save a few percent, what a joke they really are

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    Sweet cheeks

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • Another post below that isn’t mine. For NCC to justify lending their own company Norfolk Energy Futures £3.5m in this years budget, when they made no profit last year, at the expense of services in the community, just shows how far down the rotten road NCC are, and from the figures, this is another stealth hit to West Norfolk. How can the same officers that got us into this mess possibly be entrusted with getting us out? As Canary Boy says we need a proper breakdown of what goes where, these officers have been working in CW’s interests the whole time, and it looks to be continuing by paying the full amount very quickly without negotiation. Dis.graceful.

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    Honest John

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • ......or even POCKETS (bl...y auto-correct!)

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    Citizen of EUSSR

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • Can't councillors still be personally surcharged for gross incompetence? Make those who signed the contract pay out of their own pickets!

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    Citizen of EUSSR

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • With the current state of the county's roads being so poor, it's unacceptable to cut support for them further. To cut library funding further is also unacceptable. Therefore the only option left is to take it from the second homes tax. It makes sense for the local councils to play a part in the cost cutting process brought about as a result of the incinerator shambles.

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    Honest John

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • NCC incompetence again costs the public. Those who signed should be banned from public office.

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    Norfolkman

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • See the latest report on west norfolk bc purchasing the land no need to cut highways taking the second home council tax income from district councils. Problem solved unless of course NCC still want to gift the land to Co.ry Wheel.abrator.

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    Canary Boy

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • The most sensible solution would be to put the daft dead-end NDR on the back boiler until finances improve, but of course they won't do that will they?

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    Old Long Balls

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • Let them whistle for it, unless they are presenting a detailed breakdown of their contingencies, they should be shown the door.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • Officers are recommending two options as to how to save the final £1m. I could give them ONE option. Let those that signed and witnessed the contract dip into their own well-lined pockets. I'm sure a quick whip round could soon make up the shortfall and we'd all be happy.

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    disolushund

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • Why don't they just sell the Saddlebow site to WN council instead of unnecessary cuts to services?

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    Bikerboy

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • And GNobbs is enjoying every minute of wearing his hair shirt. His little gang could have stopped wasting money way back in October last year.

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    maryjane

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • Like a few others, I was surprised the alternative to cuts of some council tax increase was not even on the agenda.It's difficult to see even statutory services not being affected and social care needs more investment,not less.An increase in council tax should at least be an option.

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    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

  • Of course NCC will be ensuring that every penny claimed in breakage fees will be supported by documentary evidence that the money compensation is claimed for has actually been spent, wont they? After all no professionally administered authority would accept an invoice that gives no breakdown of elements fully documented for scrutiny by any interested party.

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    Canary Boy

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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