Norfolk County Council has been accused of having “no social conscience” and going about savings in the wrong way in the face of its proposals to save £189 million.
The council has spent the past three years cutting £140 million of spending and blames a £91 million reduction in the amount of money it is given form central Government, coupled with rising public demand for its services for creating the need for more savings.
West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney said: “This is no way to run an organisation of this size. For the past four or five years, we have had this constant cut, cut, cut.
“You have got to almost start again, get professional help in and say ‘what are our priorities?’”
The necessary savings do not factor in the potential £20 million cost to Norfolk County Council in fees payable to the developer should planning permission be refused for the deeply unpopular Saddlebow incinerator. In fact, the council is banking on the incinerator going ahead to make £6 million savings.
Michael De Whalley, of Kings Lynn Without Incineration, said: “I think it is very sad that they seem happy budgeting away under the assumption we are going to have an incinerator.”
The county council expects to slash a further 260 jobs among its own workforce next year with further to come in following years. It has already reduced its workforce from 8,600 to 5,600.
It has factored in a Council Tax freeze for the next three years. Central government has called on councils to keep Council Tax static and offers financial incentives for them to do it.
George Nobbs, county council leader, said: “This is a massive challenge and not something which is anyone in Norfolk’s making. We’ve been very tough in driving down our costs, but I wont hide the truth, some painful cuts in services are unavoidable.”
Richard Pengelly, operations manager at Norfolk Green, which runs the Coasthopper bus service between Lynn and Cromer said if the council goes ahead with reducing its subsidy for it by £300,000 over the next three years the service could disappear in winter months.
He said: “People rely on it to go to schools, college, work and hospital appointments. Norfolk County Council has no social conscience.
“We are doing out bit. We already run it at a loss but there’s a limit.”
The council is consulting on all its proposals via its website www.norfolk.gov.uk