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Bid to force fresh vote before Christmas on Norfolk County Council allowance hike fails

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group on Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group on Norfolk County Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

An attempt to force a fresh vote before Christmas over an increase in allowances of Norfolk county councillors has failed.

County Hall in Norwich. Picture: Steve AdamsCounty Hall in Norwich. Picture: Steve Adams

The Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders at County Hall wrote to chairman John Ward and managing director Dr Wendy Thomson to ask for a special meeting for a vote to rescind the decision.

Their call came after councillors voted to increase their basic allowances by 11pc and to up certain special allowances, including the leader’s allowance.

The move sparked controversy, with the council consulting over millions of pounds of cuts, including potentially to bus subsidies, children’s centres, gritting and road maintenance.

The EDP made a front-page plea to councillors to go back on the decision saying it was the “wrong move at the wrong time”.

Labour leader Steve Morphew and Lib Dem leader Dan Roper, whose groups voted against the increases, had requested a special meeting in an attempt to get the decision rescinded.

They believed that could happen as soon as this Friday, if they could table a motion backed by 21 members of the council.

MORE: Which Norfolk county councillors voted to increase their allowances?

But Dr Thomson said the motion, signed by 21 councillors, would need to submitted at least seven working days before the meeting.

She wrote that a meeting on Friday did not comply with that, given the opposition leaders made their request for the special meeting on Saturday.

She said, once their notice of motion with 21 signatures was received, discussions would happen over a suitable date for the meeting.

A disappointed Mr Morphew said: “Where there’s a will there’s a way and my interpretation of the rules is that it could have been done.

“However it’s not going to happen until the New Year and Norfolk will be disappointed.

“The consultation on the cuts to services closes on January 2 and Labour wants people to focus on saving children’s centres, bus services, gritting, libraries and other crucial services, as well as increases in care costs and the proposed 4.9pc council tax increase.”

Council leader Cliff Jordan, who had said he would give his increase to charity, had said he wanted to fix the system for councillors who get less in allowances than counterparts on other councils.

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