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Council leader warns 'irresponsible' to state which services would be spared in next round of cuts

PUBLISHED: 09:36 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:22 08 May 2019

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

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

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The leader of Norfolk County Council has said it would be 'irresponsible', at this stage, to state which services could be spared the axe in the next round of County Hall cuts.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Pic: Liberal Democrats.Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

But Conservative County Hall leader Andrew Proctor says he is meeting a local government minister and MPs next week to make the case for a fairer funding deal for the county.

The money which Norfolk County Council gets from the government has been slashed by £204m between 2010 and 2019.

And its revenue support grant - money the government gives the council to provide services - will plummet from £39m to zero in 2020/21, with the council increasingly left to rely on one-off funding and a business rates pilot.

The council, which has made £364m of savings since 2010, needs to make nearly £80m of savings in the next three years amid increasing demand.

At a meeting of the council on Tuesday, Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat, asked Mr Proctor: "Does the leader in tend to protect any services from this year's round of budget cuts and if so, which ones?"

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Mr Proctor replied: "Where we are, is that we have to work out what we have to do in context. We need to know where our funding is and where it is coming from.

"To sit here and say 'we will protect this and not that' would be very irresponsible."

Mr Proctor said a strategy would be presented at the first meeting of the new cabinet on May 21, but in the meantime, he is still meeting with government officials to push for a better deal for Norfolk.

He had previously written to the county's MPs warning that the budget shortfall presented a "significant risk" and that "statements about the end of austerity need to be backed up by significant, permanent funding".

Mr Proctor is asking the government to consider keeping the revenue support grant for longer, before phasing it out.

He said: "Pressure has been put on as best we can and it will continue to be done. We have a meeting with MPs next week to agitate for Norfolk on what we want to see and how we want to see it done."

Mr Proctor said he had met local government minister Rishi Sunak about the issue and would be meeting him again next week.

He said the county's case was being made "as best we can, whenever we can".

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