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County Hall cost-cutting plan 'flawed'

PUBLISHED: 07:30 30 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:07 22 October 2010

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Opposition leaders are to shun a cross-party cost-cutting initiative at County Hall after condemning the process as 'fundamentally flawed'. The Conservatives administration set up three budget working groups to look at spending in the children's services, adult social care and transport and planning after a £25m funding shortfall from the government.

Opposition leaders are to shun a cross-party cost-cutting initiative at County Hall after condemning the process as 'fundamentally flawed'.

The Conservatives administration set up three budget working groups to look at spending in the children's services, adult social care and transport and planning after a £25m funding shortfall from the government.

But Labour and the Lib Dems are set to withdraw from the process today after becoming increasingly unhappy at how the working groups are being run.

Labour leader Irene Macdonald is taking the unusual step of bringing a motion to today's full council meeting attacking the Tories handling of financial issues.

She accused the administration of lacking a corporate approach and of failing to respond to offers to work together to lobby ministers about Norfolk's funding deal.

"Our members are finding that they are being pushed into a corner by the slash and burn of some of the Conservative councillors - that effectively means we are being compromised," she said. "What we're seeing now is mess and muddle."

Barbara Hacker, Lib Dem group leader, said the process lacked rigour or innovative thinking.

"Nobody is looking at it corporately and taking it out of the departmental silos," she said.

But council leader Shaun Murphy defended the party's record and said he was disappointed at the Opposition's "partisan" tone.

"I think it would be a pity if they withdraw from them," he said. "These groups are looking at how to do things better - that's not really party political.

"People don't want to see that sort of knock about politics, they want to see members getting on and working together to provide the services they need and looking at the important things," he said.

"What people want to see is us managing their council effectively.

"We didn't put ourselves in this position - the government took £25m off us and we are going to find ourselves under enormous pressure next year," said Ms Murphy.


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