Norfolk County Council sets its budget for the next 12 months - but what will it mean for you?

County Hall, Norwich.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

County Hall, Norwich.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Norfolk County Council has set its budget for next year - by a narrow margin - after an 11th hour deal was brokered with the Green party.

George Nobbs - Crome (Labour)

George Nobbs - Crome (Labour) - Credit: Norfolk County Council

The Labour/Liberal Democrat administration, which has support from UKIP, had proposed a budget paving the way for £167m of savings and cuts over the next three years.

From reductions in library staff and school crossing patrols to less money to fix roads and charging for recycling, the proposals were outlined in a consultation called Putting People First.

But the Conservatives voted against the budget and only an 11th hour deal agreed with the Greens, which led to two of that four-strong group voting for it, saw the budget over the line. It was agreed by 41 to 39, with one abstention.

A UKIP amendment, including reducing cuts to Trading Standards, making money available to help carers and creating a £250k emergency coastal erosion fund was voted through.

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A Green amendment, calling for a 3.5pc council tax increase, which would have been used to safeguard personal budgets and some school services was lost yesterday morning.

For a while, it looked as if the Greens might vote against the budget, but late in the debate, which went on for more than five hours. a decisive breakthrough was reached.

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The deal agreed with the Greens, which saw two of them vote with the administration, is for a review into the cuts to personal budgets, which could see £1m put back in for the next year.

The Greens were also given confirmation that there will be an extraordinary council meeting where councillors get another vote on whether to push ahead with the incinerator at King's Lynn.

There was much criticism of the Conservative group for failing to table an amendment. The Conservatives said that, once they started looking into the budget, it became clear there were flaws and would be too big a task to salvage it.

Conservative leader Bill Borrett, who was chastised by the chairman for using a swearword at one point, bore the brunt of much of the criticism for his group's lack of an amendment.

There were suggestions he had lost the support of his group and was on the brink of resigning.

Afterwards, he dismissed such suggestions. He said: 'I would never be so arrogant to assume I have a right to be Conservative leader, but I am happy to fill the role if that is what my group want.'

Two of the most contentious proposals were to cut subsidies for transport for 16 to 19 year old students and to reduce spending on personal budgets in adult social services.

Those cuts have been given a stay of execution, although the savings are still factored in over the three years, pending the review secured by the Greens.

An extra £3m, as previously agreed, is earmarked for the troubled children's services department. At yesterday's meeting, James Joyce, cabinet member for safeguarding, had warned the Department for Education would take a dim view of a failure to set a budget.

The £308.3m budget for next year is predicated on a freeze for council tax.

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

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