Norfolk County Council agree hastily concocted amended budget

PUBLISHED: 16:34 16 February 2015 | UPDATED: 17:30 16 February 2015

Mark Harrison, front left, CEO of Equal Lives, at County Hall with protestors against cuts for the disabled and carers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mark Harrison, front left, CEO of Equal Lives, at County Hall with protestors against cuts for the disabled and carers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2015

Norfolk County Council has agreed its budget for the next 12 months, after dramatic scenes at County Hall.

 A hastily concocted budget amendment was agreed just after 4.15pm after a day of controversy.

 The Labour/UKIP/Liberal Democrat alliance budget was initially rejected by 40 votes to 36, with one abstention.

 But after talks took place between group leaders, the council’s managing director and head of law, an amended budget was agreed.

 A Conservative amendment will see £500,000 further savings, which will go to adult social services.

 It was agreed by 36 votes to five, with 37 abstentions - the whole Conservative group.

 Norfolk County Council’s budget had presumed a council tax freeze, but service cuts of £10.5m were proposed.

 Amendments to the budget by the Conservative and Green groups were rejected this morning.

 Labour council leader George Nobbs had revealed he would scrap proposals which would have cut £100,000 from transport for adult social care users.

 But the budget included cuts to arts funding, reducing library staff, charging for parking at Gressenhall Museum and Farm, removing the subsidy to schools for community groups using their facilities and charging for entry to the Ancient House Museum in Thetford during the winter.

 The rainbow alliance of Labour/UKIP and Independent Group/Liberal Democrats had put forward a revenue budget of £318.29m.

 Some £3.7m would have been drawn from reserves.

 But the Conservatives, Greens and independent councillor Alexandra Kemp voted against it.

 Conservative group leader Tom FitzPatrick had said the pace of change at County Hall was too slow and proposed an amendment to save more than £30m extra over three years.

 But the amendment was defeated by 42 votes to 35, with opposition councillors blasting what they said was a lack of detail in the proposals.

 The Green group at Norfolk County Council had put forward an amendment for council tax to rise by 1.99pc to protect vulnerable people.

 They said that would bring in £2.6m for adult social services, but were attacked by UKIP and the Conservatives.

 That amendment was defeated by 53 votes to five, with 21 abstentions.

 Members of Norwich People’s Assembly, Disabled People Against The Cuts, Equal Lives and the Green Party staged a protest outside the council’s Martineau Lane headquarters this morning.

 Mark Harrison, of Equal Lives, said cutting spending on transport would have a devastating impact on the poorest and most isolated people, already hit by the raft of benefit cuts.

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