A decision to raise Norwich council tax bills by a fraction less than the figure which would trigger a public referendum has been criticised as “flagrant democracy-dodging” by a Norfolk MP.

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Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis is also a junior minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, which offered a grant to authorities if they froze their council tax demands this year.

But Norwich City Council declined that offer earlier this month when it agreed to raise its share of the council tax bill by 1.95pc – a move which councillors said would protect key services in a budget which included about £2.5m worth of savings.

The rise was set just below the 2pc threshold at which the council would be required to ask voters if they were willing to pay the increase. But the criticism was met with an equally stinging response from the city council’s deputy leader, who said the freeze grant offered by the minister’s department was “totally inadequate” against a backdrop of government cuts.

Mr Lewis said: “Every local resident will be dismayed by this flagrant democracy-dodging. Norwich City Council is doing hard-working families and pensioners a real disservice by raising their council tax to a hair’s breadth below the trigger level in order to avoid a public vote instead of taking up this government’s offer to help fund a freeze for the third year in a row.

“Increasing council tax at this time is wrong. Councillors trying to undercut democracy in this way will find out what residents really think about their money being snatched away on the doorstep or through a kick in the ballot box.”

Alan Waters, deputy leader of Norwich City Council, said the increase was within the government rules, and would equate to an extra 1p per day for the majority of council tax payers in the city. He said: “Our decision was made against a background of deeper cuts from central government and the need to protect vital services.

“The freeze grant of 1pc offered by Mr Lewis, when inflation for local government is running at between 3pc and 5pc, is totally inadequate.

“The announcement last week that our proposals for a City Deal had been accepted shows that other parts of government clearly value Norwich as a partner.

“The message does not seem to have got through to Mr Lewis.

“His time would be better spent getting a fair deal for local government instead of sending out unsolicited and abusive emails to councils struggling with another harsh financial settlement.”

26 comments

  • Did I hear Brandon lewis calling PCC Bett a democracy dodger? Did he say the same of Dereham's conservative councillors? or is this just more media tittle tattle to get these failures into the papers sounding off?

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • "Next issue will be inflation following quantitative easing, rising petrol prices and the failure that is the austerity budget." As opposed to the previous administration that attempted to bribe some of the electorate by borrowing outrageously and spending on unsustainable projects, selling the gold reserves at the bottom of the market and leaving the country in such a bad deficit that it'll take until our great-grandchildren's generatio to pay it off? When you've spent all your money, the answer is not to spend twice as much but to save and pay off your debts.

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    So_Many_Haters!

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • This council is annually assessed as one of the worst performers when it comes to collection of council tax. If it made more effort to collect the tax that is actually due, it would be running at a surplus with the option of reducing the burden on the 40% of us who have to pay it.

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    Tudor Bushe

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Ingo, you forgot the AAA downgrade. £375 billion in QE to fiddle UK rating for only a short-term "win" and we will soon be seeing the immeasurable longer-term harm. "We" as in the ordinary punter, in case anyone reading this is still thinking we're all in it together. LOL

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • cholesmithwatchdotwordpressdotcom

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Wayne Kerr comments are posted in my own time , when I comment and where from is certainly not any of your business. I have to add I do not advise in your words spongers, I advise customers, most of whom require our help, and I pay tax but like you ! But I am not so bitter as it seems you are. Lets just hope your own circumstances do not lead in you ever needing help from organisations in the future.

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • I believe a considerable number of Tory councils are doing the same, are they Democracy Dodging too?

    Report this comment

    DocOhNo

    Friday, March 1, 2013

  • Beverley - the parasites are the ones who don't work , don't want to work , don't contribute anything to society , have hoards of kids that grow up like their parent(s) , & prey on decent people all of their lives.

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    Tudor Bushe

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • I would like to know the effect on a district council's budget when the number of residents eligible for council tax exemption soars. Do councils get a top up from the government equal to the amount lost for every resident who claims exemption? Even the effect of young adults living at home instead of moving into their own places must reduce the level of council tax being paid. And Norwich misses out on council tax from all the houses occupied by students-if they were in university provided halls all the houses could be occupied by those contributing council tax. The burden of the tax is falling upon fewer and fewer people.

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    Daisy Roots

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Yet again Norwich City Council does what it can to show total disregard to the residents of Norwich. They are basically cooking the books to their advantage. Maybe if NCC spent their budgets more wisely then there would be no need for any increase in Council Tax. But while they award contracts which fail months down the line and have to award compensation to contractors and ex workers, then us the tax payer takes the hit. Well we all know what to do when the next local election comes along, vote them out !

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Tory strategy is to devise local government funding apparatus to deliberately hurt Labour councils and then blame them for taking the only way out to deal with the problems Lewis and Pickles has caused them.Such is Brandon Lewis' own hypocritical form of "localism".Lewis continues his quest for the Tory shyster of the year

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Wonder how long it will take before Channel 5 visit Norwich City Hall to film a new edition of the Hotel Inspector (Allegedly)

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Where is Smith's comment? This is Norwich after all. Not like her to be slow out of the blocks in the cynical and hypocritical opportunism stakes.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Chloe Smith has to keep in good with the Labour councillors because they are nicer to her than her own councillors who hate her. But old Brandon has got completely the wrong end of the stick. The democratic deficit in this county exists within the Tory run councils, most especially the County Council that leads by very bad example. The leader has been got rid of and the next wannabee leader Shorty Borratt will soon be gone. Roll on May when, as the EDP has recommended, people vote for the good of themselves and their areas by voting for an Independent not a member of a political party, especially the Tory Bullies, whose list of interests put the people of Norfolk at the very bottom.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Well you must be in the public sector - you obviously have lots of time to kill browsing the internet. Oh well I suppose if you're typing away on Archants website, at least you're not advising some sponge on how to get hold of more of the tax I have to pay.

    Report this comment

    Tudor Bushe

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • Sad stuff here from Mr Lewis. I think many Norfolk residents (especially those in the west of the county in the shadow of the proposed incincerator) have now had quite enough of the flagrant 'democracy dodging' practiced by Mr Lewis's fellow Tories who run Norfolk County Council.

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    gilded beams

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Yes Stuart, you tell 'em. It must be really bad, because Georgie has already had to borrow 75 per cent of what it took the last lot 13 years to run up. Some people might wrongly judge that to be even more outrageous borrowing, especially during this time of "austerity". I saw Cable on tv yesterday, hammering out the same tried and tested myths. Cutting the debt and the deficit etc. Not quite, need to try harder? Anyway, it is good to know with money so tight that little amounts can be found so readily for the multitude of vote-buying bribes announced recently as we approach the next big test of Government popularity in May. Fact is this is not "austerity" or we would be living like the Greeks. It is pure rhetoric and playing to the grass roots (attacks on welfare, public services, etc). It is not a serious attempt to deal with the underlying issues, which if effected would lead to mass civil unrest and make the Tories unellectable for generations to come.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Wayne Kerr there are many people who for some reason have a major change in their life ie a loss of a partner or a loss of a job which means they then have to claim benefits. I am sick and tired of hearing people moaning about other people circumstances cause it could happen to you. Ok there are some people who take advantage of the benefits system, but this will soon end with major changes. People on IS will be reviewed and if need be they will be moved on to ESA and those on DLA will also be reviewed and made to claim PIP depending on their own individual circumstances. PIP will be points based, may I suggest you watch Channel 4 dispatches on 4OD to get a better idea of what is really going on before making assumptions. Not all people claiming benefits are taking advantage of the system, but the few that do, ruin it for the legitimate claimants........

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Wayne kerr yes cause of where i work, ty...

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    che bramley

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • Lucky they're not being subject to a smear campaign per the sort erupting just before the Eastleigh by-election. Convenient timing and benefiting the Tories; stage-managed in the usual way by their press allies. In contrast, remember when impropriety allegations against high ranking Tories were rapidly swept under the carpet so effectively. To show that Lewis is not a politically-motivated hypocrite, will he also be criticising Norfolk's police and crime commissioner for side-stepping a one-off grant in favour of a 1.95 per cent increase for ever more (unlikely; he is a "lapsed" Tory) or the nearby authority that decided to increase council tax by 7.8 per cent (no chance; it is run by Tories). The timing of his outburst is mysterious - is there an election soon?

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • I should clarify that I do not expect students to pay council tax nor the very poor, but it is alarming how the number of unemployed and those on very low incomes has soared in GYBC district and one wonders what it does to the budget and who is making good the deficit. What really stinks, in my opinion, is when houses are occupied by multiple wage earning adults who can pay less in total than an elderly couple with not a great deal of savings. I do not envy councils attempting to provide services but I agree with efforts to rein in the excesses of councils frittering our hard earned money away but voted in by those who do not contribute.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Andy T does not like us to criticise any body else but the Labour council, the word for that is hypocrite. The PCC used the 1.965% formula and so did others, democracy dodging is term coined by Eric Pickles. Next issue will be inflation following quantitative easing, rising petrol prices and the failure that is the austerity budget.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • How can an article being critical of Norwich City Council's disregard for democracy generate responses about the NHS, Great Yarmouth, County Council & Dereham. Also, the local government funding apparatus is not just to hurt Labour Councils, it is used everywhere. Paranoia or what?

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • It's no more "democracy dodging" than Mr Lewis' government pulling apart the NHS. Who gave them the mandate to do that?

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • One band of parasites being critised by another parasite.

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    beverley

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Mr. Lewis would do well to preach the finer principles of democracy to councillors of his own party political persuasion . The example set by his fellow conservatives at NCC would do justice to a third world dictatorship. He and they, are the candidates for a good kicking in the ballot box.

    Report this comment

    mrsmurphy

    Monday, February 25, 2013

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

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