Leaders at Norfolk County Council have been accused by the opposition Conservatives of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ with their proposed budget for the next year.

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But Labour have turned the tables on the Conservatives, pointing out that their budget amendments are flawed and contain a £3m black hole.

The Labour/Liberal Democrat administration at Norfolk County Council this week announced the authority’s proposed budget for next year and confirmed council tax will not rise if the proposals go through.

While their £308.4m revenue budget would still see wide-ranging cuts, a number of the most contentious proposals in the Putting People First consultation on how to partially plug a £189m funding gap. have been given what council leader George Nobbs described as “a stay of execution”.

One is the proposal to cut the transport subsidy for students aged 16 to 19, which would have meant bus fare hikes for young people.

Another pull back is on personal budgets. Changes were proposed to save £12m over three years and would have meant less money would be available for wellbeing activities.

But the proposal now is to mitigate those changes by making £3m available to supported people through the proposed changes.

However, almost £60m of cuts will still be made in 2014/15, including reducing maintenance on the county’s roads by £1m cutting the subsidy for the Coasthopper bus and cutting library staff.

And Conservative leader Bill Borrett, who had said last night he was pleased that the transport subsidy and personal budgets had been granted a reprieve, said he was disappointed with the rest of the budget.

He said: “I am disappointed the budget offers so little comfort to the people of Norfolk, and it is a scandal that even though they know that it is going to be even more difficult in the future they have stolen millions of pounds from the following year’s budget.

“It will be no different to the policies which lead to the debt-laden legacy of the last Labour government.

“The cuts in adult social care, highways and recycling services are just some examples of cuts that would not have had to be made if the administration had not cancelled Enterprising Norfolk, which looked at new sources of revenue to protect services, and postponed the recruitment of the new Managing Director by six months.

“Whoever has to set next year’s budget will have a much harder job as the Labour party pushes its cuts further down the line, rather than look at generating income to protect them.

“This is a classic example of Labour financial mismanagement and is no better than robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

The Conservative amendment to the budget had proposed spending £3.7m to head off some of the cuts, including to mobile libraries, highways maintenance and recycling changes.

But Steve Morphew, cabinet member for finance said they had blundered in financing those savings through the money the council will get from freezing council tax - which was already factored into the budget.

He said: “‘The Conservative budget proposals have a £3m black hole. By trying to spend the same money twice they leave a gaping hole. misleading people and demonstrating a degree of incompetence that actually won’t surprise a lot of people.

“It would actually be illegal to try to introduce such a proposal to council. If they spent more time on what the county council is there for rather than petty point scoring we might get something we could work with from them.

“We have offered the Conservatives the opportunity to work with us to balance the budget in the interests of the county, setting aside party interests for the greater good in tough times.

“Instead they persist in trying to score cheap points with emotive comments that have no basis in reality and pay no mind to the irritation they cause to those who want the county council to show some leadership.

“I can’t help wondering if they are trying to make the county council as unfit for purpose as some already suspect it is.”

Mr Borrett, on the issue of the £3m gap, said it had happened because the figure, although in the budget, had been hidden.
He said: “As they have found £7.1m of new money, we could have used that to fill the gap. It’s the sort of misdirection we have come to expect.”

The county council cabinet will consider proposals for 2014-15 at a meeting next Monday, before the county council’s full budget debate on February 17.

15 comments

  • What about the money put into purchasing RAF Coltishall ! Nothing has been done as they now cannot use the runway for the hardcore for the NDR. So bit of a white elephant, meanwhile our money is tide up. Asset rich cash poor !

    Report this comment

    Skyhookcoffee

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • What a car crash......this Leadership will never get anything agreed.....Coalition politics...what a joke.

    Report this comment

    Scooby

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • I suppose robbing Peter to pay Paul is slightly better than when the Tories had control and robbed both Peter and Paul.

    Report this comment

    Cuthbert J. Twillie

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Oh here's another one. Bill Borrett paid out for RAF Coltishall without any sense of direction. It's time the Tories picked a new leader.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Bill Borrett is the man who was at the driver's seat when the incinerator contract was signed, when a 15 minute limit on visits to the elderly was being sanctioned, and when our schools and education system was going the pan. How is this inept man still in charge of the Tory party? It's time they got their own house in order before they start criticising others. They are out of power and have shown no sign that they're sorry for what they've landed the county with.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Thankfully,Labour prevented the council from setting what would have effectively been an illegal budget had it accepted the toxic Tories' version,we could have been asked to find £3 million out of increased council tax.Don't the Tories appreciate there is a cost of living crisis.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • What about the money put into purchasing RAF Coltishall ! Nothing has been done as they now cannot use the runway for the hardcore for the NDR. So bit of a white elephant, meanwhile our money is tide up. Asset rich cash poor !

    Report this comment

    Skyhookcoffee

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • I am afraid you have to go back to the 1960's for when the schools and the education system went down the pan. Harold Wilson was the man - he was so inept that he was under suspicion of being a Russian spy.

    Report this comment

    Steely Dan

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Scooby I think this is the start of a real problem. You describe as a car crash it will be more like tsunami it will keep crashing again and again. Agree coalition politics amount to paralyse the Council. Trouble ahead.

    Report this comment

    Tractor4

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Build the thing and get over it .Job done.They are all over Denmark no pollution no problem.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Thanks Dan for producing this - it makes it even more urgent that this Council is put into measures and an external audit is brought in to go through everything with a fine toothcomb. The trouble with the Tories they are still in denial and the LabourLib Dem have got no-one in a position of responsibility who can act with integrity. They all need to go. The electorate should push them out and forget about the niceties of protocol we need to take control of our own destiny

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • Borrett really takes the biscuit with his greasy words - much of this is down to HIM and his pal Murphy who between them signed a contract with a waste disposal company before planning permission was granted and now we have to put £millions aside for when Pickles tells Cory to sling their hooks. Thanks Bill for reminding us all that the rot set in well before the latest bunch of idiots took control....

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • OK here's my question... We received one of those political party newspaper things the other day telling us about the council voting for a 16% pay rise - If there is a such a shortfall - should this not be a 16% pay CUT instead or are they all just lying AGAIN?

    Report this comment

    Mobber Richards

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

  • NCC = Norfolk Numpty Council

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Thankfully,Labour prevented the council from setting what would have effectively been an illegal budget had it accepted the toxic Tories' version,we could have been asked to find £3 million out of increased council tax.Don't the Tories appreciate there is a cost of living crisis.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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