North Norfolk Tory tax-cut dreams stalled by “horrendous” economic state

North Norfolk's new Tory-run administration is planning to freeze rather than cut council tax over the next two years because of 'horrendous' national and international economic conditions.

The Conservatives swept to power in May's district council elections on a manifesto which included a pledge to seek a cut in council tax.

But after four months in control, council leader Helen Eales said the Conservatives would have to wait for greater economic stability before they could actually reduce the levy.

'Our ideal would be to reduce council tax but it's probably not going to happen at the moment,' she said.

'We have taken over in an economic climate which couldn't be worse - there are horrendous problems out there - and we are waiting until there is more stability.'

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Low rates meant the interest on council investments had been cut by a third and the Tories did not want to risk damaging the district's finances and having to slash services.

A freeze would see a householder in the average council-tax band D continuing to pay �138.87, representing North Norfolk District Council's (NNDC) 9.2pc portion of the overall �1,510.28 charge. Tory-controlled Norfolk County Council is also intending to freeze its element of council tax for two years.

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Mrs Eales said NNDC Conservatives were working intensively on detailed plans to honour their manifesto pledges but meanwhile they were operating within the 2011-2012 budget set by the previous Liberal Democrat administration.

Residents will get a first look at the Tories' proposals for the next four years when the party's forward planning statement is released early next month.

Creating new job opportunities across north Norfolk remained a key priority, Mrs Eales added.

So far cost-cutting has led to the loss of abut 12 jobs within NNDC, not all through compulsory redundancy, but Mrs Eales said these had all been agreed under the former administration.

Building more affordable homes with enough supporting infrastructure, helping the local economy and protecting the coast and countryside were also among the Tories' promises and Mrs Eales said next month's statement would explain how they hoped to achieve those goals during 2012-3013 and beyond.

She said all NNDC departments had been asked to look for 10pc worth of savings and the results would be fed into the Conservatives' revised budget, due to go before the full council in December.

'That doesn't necessarily mean we will be making 10pc reductions across the board,' she said. 'There may be cases where services need a boost. We want to be as positive as we possibly can, using efficiencies and sharing services where possible.'

The Conservatives went from trailing the Lib-Dems by 12 seats to having a majority of 10 after the spring elections.

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