No need to sell off council assets, claim North Norfolk Lib Dems

Sarah Butikofer. Picture: SUBMITTED

Sarah Butikofer. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

A row over North Norfolk's budget proposals has intensified with the Liberal Democrats on the council claiming there's no need to sell off assets to balance the books.

North Norfolk District Council proposes to develop four of its assets in order to freeze its share of the council tax for a seventh year in a row.

But Liberal Democrat group leader Sarah Butikofer said: 'North Norfolk District Council's Conservative leaders would like you to believe they have to sell some of the council's assets in order to balance the books. The council does not have to do this.

'Over the next four years the district council plans to spend around £14m each year. It gets the money from central government and local taxpayers. 'Thanks to a hefty cut in support from the Conservative government, the council faces a £1.3m funding gap in 2020/21. If this gap is not filled, it will mean cuts in spending. But that is not the whole picture. For the next two years the council is forecasting a surplus of £1.1m. This could go a long way tomeeting the later deficit. The council also has significant cash reserves.

'Its general reserve fund for unexpected events is £660,000 more than recommended by council officers. But it also has a further £13.4m in what is called its 'earmarked reserves'. This is supposed to cover known or predicted expenditure in future years.

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'What is clear is that the council does not have to sell off its assets or raise council tax now. Instead it should first use the money it

already has in the bank.' '

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A NNDC council spokesperson said: 'This proposal is not an agreement to sell off council assets; it is a way to look at how existing assets could earn greater revenue in the future. Following the phasing out of the rate support grant (the grant from central government to support NNDC's delivery of local services), the council is looking at ways to balance future budgets without an increase in council tax or a reduction in services.'

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