A council tax rise and a raid on reserves: Green and Liberal Democrat groups at Norfolk County Council reveal alternative budget proposals

Opposition councillors at Norfolk County Council have revealed their alternative budget proposals - which include increasing council tax by 3.5pc to fund a sustained programme of apprenticeships and taking more than �4m from reserves to help primary schools and getting people into further education.

The ruling Conservative group at County Hall has already put forward its budget, which is likely to be approved on Monday.

It includes spending �3.5m on road maintenance, �5.4m to provide extra spaces for looked after children and �3m to provide apprenticeships for young people.

But the Liberal Democrat group at County Hall has said it will go further, taking �4.5m out of the council's reserves.

Paul Morse, Lib Dem leader, said �1.5m would go into a one-off pot which primary schools can apply for to spend on, for example, specific training or building work.


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A further �1m would be available to distribute in grants for young people from low income backgrounds to go on to higher education.

About �800,000 would be spent on 'state of the art' flood sirens to protect Norfolk's coastline, while the group would also spend less on media operations at County Hall and start building up the county's youth services again.

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Mr Morse said: 'We feel the county should be investing more in Norfolk and less in the bank, so we would release �4.5m more from reserves than the Conservatives have planned to spend on the current problems facing Norfolk residents.'

Mr Morse said the Lib Dems would not increase the county council share of the council tax, given the government is handing over �8.6m in return for the proposed freeze.

However, the Green group at County Hall has said it would increase council tax, by 3.5pc, so the apprenticeship and job creation programme can last beyond just one year.

Leader Richard Bearman said: 'The Conservative led council is proposing a one-off injection into apprenticeships. Whilst we welcome this, it does not go far enough.

'The difficulty faced by 16 to 24-year-olds finding jobs can be tackled sustainably by funding a long-term apprenticeship program that will carry on year after year.

We are proposing this because it will help many young people in Norfolk seeking long term careers while enabling Norfolk to lead the way into the low carbon economy.'

The Greens are also proposing creating free bus travel for volunteers. Mr Bearman said: 'We want more people to be involved in volunteering and, whether this is somebody working in an Oxfam shop or something similar, this would make it easier for them.'

The Labour group has already unveiled its budget plans to use a �1.76m underspend to provide a card for young people which would entitle them to half-fare bus travel in Norfolk.

dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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