Norfolk County Council to consult on tax rise idea

George Nobbs (leader of County Council) ENGANL00120131028141226

George Nobbs (leader of County Council) ENGANL00120131028141226

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A public consultation is to be launched later this week on Norfolk County Council proposals to raise council tax by just under two per cent.

Officials at County Hall say the move, if implemented would raise around £6 million for services.

Some of the most severe proposed cuts, worth around £50 million, are set to be scrapped after new plans were backed by a council committee today.

But the remaining proposals will still see the authority’s spending reduced by more than £120 million over the next three years.

Some of the most drastic proposals which now look set to be scrapped include the most severe cuts to children’s and adult social care services and a plan which could have seen more than half of the county’s libraries close.

Plans to cut the county fire service’s budget by 25 per cent have also been withdrawn, although two fire stations, Heacham and Outwell in West Norfolk, remain at risk of closure and second crews are still set to be removed from retained stations with more than one engine.

The list of proposed cuts also includes reducing services at all but three of Norfolk’s museums, closing several registration offices and reducing or revising what it calls “non-safety critical” road maintenance requirements.

But council leader George Nobbs said he was “glad” the council had managed to halt many of the most drastic cuts.

He said: “We have tried our hardest to protect and invest in our priorities at a time when local government remains under sustained attack by the Government.

“Our strategy has been to invest in prevention services for the elderly and in children’s services so people don’t become dependent on us at a later date. The coming year will actually see us recruit more care workers in our re-enablement service as we seek to invest in better care.

“Setting a three-year budget will give stability and will give staff time to bring in changes in the way they work.

“At the end of this, you will see a council that is more efficient, more locally based and is targeting its support for residents far better than it is today.

“But there are still some very difficult decisions to take on, to set a balanced budget on which we need people’s views.”

Among them will be the question of whether residents should pay an extra 1.95 per cent on their council tax bills next year, in order to raise an extra £6 million for services.

A public consultation on the authority’s proposals is set to be launched later this week and will continue until mid-January. The council’s final budget will be set in February.

Deputy leader Dan Roper said: “We need to hear from Norfolk people what they think about that and which services should be prioritised.

“I hope as many people as possible take part in the consultation so that we can take a well informed decision.”

Comments can be emailed to haveyoursay@norfolk.gov.uk before the consultation is launched.