Norfolk County Council Agree Amended Budget

Members of Norfolk County Council have agreed a budget for the year ahead and to freeze the Authority's share of council tax.

It includes £10 million of cuts to things like arts funding, highways maintenance and library staff, as well as £19 million of efficiency measures.

The budget was agreed after a series of votes on budget proposals and debate lasting more than five and a half hours.

A Conservative budget amendment was defeated firstly, followed by the defeat of a Green amendment, before the proposed budget (previously agreed by the Policy and Resources Committee) was rejected by 40 votes to 36, with 1 abstention.

A brief meeting of party leaders then followed, before an amendment by the Conservative Group was tabled and accepted by Council Leader George Nobbs. This was voted on and agreed by 36 votes to 5, with 37 abstentions.

The net revenue budget of £318.428m for 2015-16 included a proposal by County Council Leader George Nobbs to invest £100,000 to delay the implementation of a reduction in the amount the Council spends on transport for people using Adult Social Care services.

The amendment that was agreed will see a proposed £500,000 efficiency saving for 2015/16 returned into the Adult Social Services budget, and recycling centre hours and related charges returning for discussion to the council's Environment, Development and Transport Committee.

The budget is based on the council ambition for everyone in Norfolk to succeed and fulfil their potential, paying particular regard to three specific priorities:

o Excellence in education
o Real jobs
o Good infrastructure

The agreed amendment will now see the council adopting a fourth priority, which is:

o Improve the quality of life for all the people of Norfolk, and in particular to safeguard vulnerable people throughout the county.

Proposals to meet a budget shortfall for 2016-17 and 2017-18 will be developed and brought back to Members before June 2015.

George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council, said: "This budget - the first from our Committee system - gives residents in Norfolk the best deal possible, despite everything that is stacked against us.

"Gone are the days when the hardest decisions facing councillors was where to allocate additional money.

"Despite losing almost £42m in government grants, and facing escalating costs of £27m, we have protected front line care services from the worst impact.

"In fact we have managed to put more money into the budgets for services for children and adults for 2015/16 than we spent in this financial year.

"This has been done through a strong record of delivering efficiencies and through taking tough decisions, cutting where we have had no alternative."

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