Council chief warns Boris Johnson ‘positivity can only go so far’ over funding

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry - Credit: Archant

The leader of Norfolk County Council has warned new prime minister Boris Johnson that 'positivity can only go so far' in the fight over local government funding.

Andrew Proctor wrote to Mr Johnson yesterday, congratulating him on his appointment as prime minster.

He said: "I know that Brexit is the key item on your agenda but I also note you have attached great importance to the need for positivity and optimism on all fronts.

"I have the same view about the future of Norfolk and the county council's role in growing the economy and improving people's lives."

But he added: "However, positivity can only go so far if our very real pressures aren't addressed."

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Mr Proctor detailed how a "huge amount" of money had been taken out of local government since 2010.

He said: "I'm not extending a begging bowl. As an experienced businessman who is now a county council leader, I am asking for you to make a shrewd investment in the future of the country, which will give you a real, tangible return."

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Mr Proctor said he wanted to see fairer long-term funding so councils could better plan, sustainable cash for adult social care, and a "new form of localism and devolution for county areas".

He also called for more investment in infrastructure, and the dualling of the A47 and building the Norwich Western Link, which he said would "help us form an Eastern Powerhouse".

Mr Proctor said he would be pleased to host a visit by Mr Johnson to the county.

Previously County Hall officers said uncertainty over Brexit is hampering Norfolk County Council's planning over future cuts.

Papers put before the council's powerful cabinet in May said: ""The chancellor has repeatedly indicated that, in the absence of a clear solution, or in the event of a disorderly exit from the EU, it is likely there be a one-year spending review only."

At the time Mr Proctor said bridging the £71m gap the council faces over the next two years is "not going to be an easy call".

He said: "To be fair to local government we have taken the brunt of spending reductions whilst remaining the most efficient part of the public sector.

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