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Give us the money we need to stave off cuts to services for Norwich people, says City Hall leader

Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters (left). 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters (left). Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

The leader of Norwich City Council has issued a stark warning that services will be under threat unless local government is properly funded.

And Alan Waters, Labour leader at City Hall, wants the government to ease restrictions on the use of money raised through parking charges and the sale of council homes.

Leaders at Norfolk County Council have already outlined how County Hall will need to save £125m over the next four years.

And Mr Waters warned dwindling government grants would also hit the city council, which is already looking to save £2.3m a year up until 2020.

At a meeting of the city council this week, councillors unanimously approved a motion to write to local government secretary Sajid Javid calling for a “fundamental reversal in current government policy affecting local government and the inclusion of new measures which will secure the sustainable funding of Norwich City Council.”

The council currently gets a revenue support grant to use to provide services, but that is set to disappear, with councils instead funded through business rate retention, money from housing developers and specific grants.

But Mr Waters said the government should be strengthening revenue support grants and giving council’s more certainty to help plan budgets.

He also wants councils to be able to use money raised through parking charges as they choose. At the moment, that money is meant to be put back into transport projects.

He is also calling for restrictions on Right To Buy receipts (when people buy council homes) to be removed, so all the money can be used to build new homes.

He said: “The argument we are having to make is that, away from the big headlines like adult social care and schools, there are neighbourhood services which district councils like us provide which are important to thousands of people.

“It’s things like culture, like leisure and if we lose those services that will affect so many people.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government has said the changes in funding for local councils will make them more self-sufficient and accountable to their electorates, with councils responsible for growing their income.

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