Major cuts to fire, recycling, library and museum services look set to be scrapped after plans for a council tax rise were announced by Norfolk County Council this morning.
The authority has published papers which, if approved, would allow for a near four per cent increase in its portion of the tax.
Officials say the measure, which would be the first increase imposed by the county council since 2011, would add 88p a week to an average band D bill, with around half the additional money going to adult social care services.
The remainder would be used to maintain services in areas such as recycling, where the Docking recycling centre will be re-opened and full-time hours restored to three other sites.
All the county’s fire stations will also remain open, while plans to cut staffing at several of the county’s museums are set to be dropped and funding for books in the county’s libraries will also be protected under the proposals.
But, despite the measures, the authority, which is run by an alliance of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP, says it still intends to make £42 million of savings in the coming financial year and will still have to cut more than £100 million over the next three years.
Council leader George Nobbs said: “The messages we have had back from our committees and our public consultation has been loud and clear – people are prepared to pay an extra 88p each week to protect services such as adults social care, fire and rescue, museums and libraries, and this is a picture that’s going to be repeated up and down the country.
“I’d like to thank members across parties and across committees for the mature discussions we have had on this matter.
“This is a budget for Norfolk. It is remarkable what can be achieved if you don’t worry about who gets the credit.”
Deputy leader Dan Roper added: “I’m delighted that there seems to be a political will across all parties to follow the sensible option and protect services even though this will mean the first council tax rise in five years.”
Cliff Jordan, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said: “While it goes against the grain to increase council tax, the pressure from the public to build back their valued services, and to restore the front line, means that this modest increase in council tax is the only way.
“At a time of financial difficulty for local councils, it was right that we work with the alliance, to ensure we put together a sustainable, balanced budget, in the interests of the people of Norfolk.”
The proposals will go before the council’s policy and resources committee on Monday. If passed, they will then be debated by the full council on February 22.