Greens quit Norfolk County Council roles over £120m cuts package

Richard Bearman

Richard Bearman - Credit: Archant

The millions of pounds of cuts which Norfolk County Council is set to make have prompted two Green county councillors to quit their positions as vice-chairs of committees.

Elizabeth Morgan. Photo: Steve Adams

Elizabeth Morgan. Photo: Steve Adams

Richard Bearman, Green group leader, and Elizabeth Morgan have announced they will step down from their roles as vice-chairs of, respectively, the authority's communities and adult social care committees.

The pair said they feel they cannot implement what they described as the 'savage spending cuts' they say the government is forcing the authority to make.

The county council has a £111m funding gap to plug over three years and yesterday agreed to put out for consultation some £120m worth of cuts, including to adult social care, children's services, museums and the fire service.

While plans to shut 27 of 47 libraries and 18 fire stations were scrapped, the Greens said the cuts which will have to be made would still 'dismantle' public services.


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Mr Bearman, who represents Norwich's Mancroft ward, said: 'Efficiency savings are one thing, but we are being asked to support spending cuts which go way beyond this. We are effectively being expected to deliver a Conservative party manifesto for local councils; and as county councillors and members of the Green party we are not prepared to do that.

'The anti-austerity movement in this country needs to get its message heard in Whitehall loud and clear. The path of deficit reduction chosen by this Conservative government by slashing the funds they give to local government will change forever the way councils operate.'

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Trade union Unison, which represents council workers, has warned hundreds of jobs could be lost because of the cuts.

And Ms Morgan, county councillor for Norwich's Wensum ward, said: 'The cuts to local government funding are hitting vulnerable people the hardest, and although one of the council's four key priorities is supporting vulnerable people, we find ourselves forced into a position where we are simply no longer able to do that adequately.'

'I did not get elected to implement the kind of cuts the chancellor wants us to, which would dismantle the essential services so many people in Norfolk rely on.'

The pair have surrendered their vice-chair roles, but will remain on the committees.

The administration at County Hall is made up of an alliance of Labour, Liberal Democrats and the UKIP and Independent Group, which was formed with support from the Greens. The Conservatives are in opposition.

Public consultation on the £120m package of possible cuts will run until January. While the council's web consultation is set to be launched on Friday, people can already make their views known by emailing haveyoursay@norfolk.gov.uk

Results of the consultation - which includes asking the public if they would be prepared to shoulder a council tax rise to protect services - will be considered at the council's budget meeting on February 22 next year.

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

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