Norfolk County Council should cut culture grants, not youth service, say Labour

Cutting grants to arts organisations, scrapping some councillor allowances and finding more efficient ways to provide services could spare cuts to youth services in Norfolk.

That is the view of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council, which has unveiled its alternative plan for the county's budget for the next 12 months.

The county council will meet on Monday to agree a revenue budget of just over �603,000m for 2011/12 and to make just under �60m worth of savings.

Protesters have dubbed it a Valentine's Day Massacre, with �25m to be cut from children's services and �14m from adult social services, with the equivalent of 750 full-time jobs set to be axed.

George Nobbs, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council said his party's amendment would prevent cuts to the youth service, sensory service, support for looked after children, the Unthank Centre and the school music service.

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The Labour proposal is to cut the amount of grant given to Norwich's Theatre Royal, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and the Writers Centre by �140,000.

Mr Nobbs said: 'Nobody is going to die if they have to pay a few more pence to see Swan Lake. At a time when we are meant to be in it together, the council seems to be saying blind and disabled people are being asked to make a sacrfice, but people who go to the theatre and the festival shouls not have to, which seems wrong.'

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Special responsibility allowances - paid to members of the cabinet - would also be axed under Labour's proposal, which Mr Nobbs said would save �275,000.

The Labour proposal also calls for an extra �5m to be saved by increasing the amount the council saves on procurement - buying goods and services - from the proposed 2pc saving to 3pc.

Labour will put its proposals forward at the full meeting of the council on Monday (February 14).

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