Conservatives attack ‘lack of leadership’ at Norfolk County Council as £9m overspend revealed

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of the Conservative group at Norfolk County Council.

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of the Conservative group at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

A projected overspend of almost £9m at Norfolk County Council has sparked accusations that the authority lacks leadership and is 'drifting' into further financial trouble.

The county council last year agreed to make £189m of savings by 2018, but admitted in September that it still had to find another £13m of savings.

And the opposition Conservative group said, with latest reports from various committees detailing an overspend of just under £9m, the Labour/UK Independence Party/Liberal Democrat alliance did not have a firm enough grip on the finances.

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of the Conservative group, said: 'Last February, we repeatedly warned the alliance their proposals were not sustainable, that a number of the savings could not be achieved and more must be done to generate income.

'The response to our warnings were derision and sneering. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. The council already has to make additional savings for the new financial year because they realise a number of proposals were never achievable and on top of that, it faces the legacy of this year's blackhole sucking in next year's funding as well.

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'The lack of political leadership, strategy and vision from the alliance is spending tomorrow's money rather than dealing with the issues which face us today.'

Mr FitzPatrick said the authority needed to look at its estate, at its staff numbers and at working more closely with district councils and charities.

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The projected overspends include £6.5m in adult social care and £1,3m in children's services.

But George Nobbs, the council's Labour hit back. He said committees had been asked to put measures in place to tackle the projected overspends.

And he said: 'I have heard all this from the Conservatives before. Bill Borrett said it when the budget was set. He was wrong then and they are wrong now.

'The last people myself and the Norfolk people will take lessons from an unleadable rabble, as one of their own members described the Conservative group.'

What do you think? Write, giving full contact details to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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