'When is Great Yarmouth going to get the apology it deserves?' - Tears in council chamber as budget is discussed
PUBLISHED: 21:46 19 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:57 20 February 2019
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A council has agreed its budget and council tax rise, in a meeting which saw an emotional plea for more to be done for those most in need.
Conservative-led Great Yarmouth Borough Council voted to agree its budget on Tuesday night, which group leader Graham Plant said protected services and allowed for investment in key projects despite “massive financial challenges”.
At the meeting, Mr Plant said: “Great Yarmouth Borough Council is a big business and we have to live within our means.
“Some hard decisions have been taken, but we do not want a basic service offer.”
He described the budget as “robust and affordable”, adding he hoped to “reap the Brexit dividend” once things were settled.
“It is not a comfortable position to be in,” he said.
“We must however look to the future and growing the economy, making our assets work to deliver a return and living within our means.”
Labour group leader Trevor Wainwright said Mr Plant was “deluded” if he thought Brexit was “the magic bullet”, and added: “The country is in a mess.
“Really what this is all about is no more money, no new ideas and no recognition of the dire situation facing councils.”
He said Yarmouth had seen a 60pc cut in funding since 2010, one of the highest in the UK. However, its people were among the most in need.
Proposing an amendment, Mr Wainwright asked to scrap a £150,000 funding slice set aside for coastal erosion and match funding projects, and instead provide a fund to help voluntary and community groups.
He said he also wanted to see almost £400,000 retained for economic growth.
Mike Smith-Clare appealed for support, saying community groups were “the last refuge” for many caught up in “callous” Conservative cuts.
Meanwhile, there was applause from the public gallery for Labour’s Jade Martin, who gave an emotional speech about children stealing food from classmates’ lunch boxes because they were hungry.
She said it was “incredibly sad” to see homeless people in the town centre and food banks in schools.
“When is Great Yarmouth going to get the apology it deserves? Our MP should be ashamed of himself,” she said.
The amendment was lost by 18 votes to 15.