Road maintenance and library provision could be among the areas hit by plans to pay the compensation required for cancelling the Lynn incinerator contract, it has emerged today, Tuesday, May 6.
Ahead of a key Norfolk County Council meeting next week, the authority has set out how it plans to fund the estimated £30 million bill left after members voted to terminate the agreement for the Saddlebow scheme last month.
Although £19 million was found in the council’s budget for the current financial year, approved in February, a further £11 million had to be found following the vote on April 7.
The authority says most of the money will be found through savings and underspends, but around £1 million is still needed.
One option proposed by officers to meet the gap is to cut the highways budget by £900,000 and take £140,000 from library book provisions. The other is to withhold around half of the cash which would otherwise be given to district councils for their share of the proceeds of council tax payments on second homes.
Council leader George Nobbs said this afternoon: “Nobody wanted to have to find this money and we always warned this process would not be without pain. Our finance team has done its very best to minimise the direct impact on services for Norfolk people.
“However, no matter how much we have tried to minimise the impact, it would be foolish to pretend that there won’t be some cuts that will hurt.”
Steve Morphew, the authority’s cabinet member for finance, added: “We wanted to use that money to speed up service improvement and transformation.
“It is no secret that we inherited some areas where performance is simply not good enough. It requires time and money to be invested to transform services, and without the cash to inject progress will be much slower.
“The decision council made was the right one but those who urged it upon us now need to step up and help deal with the consequences.”
A £3 million underspend on services during the financial year 2013-14 will go towards the cost of ending the council’s agreement with Cory Wheelabrator, together with more than £1.5 million taken from reserves.
The plan also includes £700,000 taken from property sales, a £500,000 government grant and a similar amount from the council-owned Norse Group.
The proposals will go before the council’s cabinet next Monday, May 12, together with a proposal to approve a short-term deal, which would last for up to three years, to send waste to an incinerator in Suffolk.