West Norfolk Council leader claims borough is ‘in safe hands’ as budget is passed

Views of King's Lynn''The view of Chapel Street with the Junction of Austin Street King's Lynn''The King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Office is the building on the left, with the Lattice House Pub further down on the right. ENGANL00120130322090456
Views of King's Lynn''The view of Chapel Street with the Junction of Austin Street King's Lynn''The King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Office is the building on the left, with the Lattice House Pub further down on the right. ENGANL00120130322090456

West Norfolk “is a vibrant district, confident in its planning and its future”, its borough council leader claimed as the authority’s budget for the coming year was passed.

Members voted by 31 to 13 to approve the council’s financial plan for the 2015-16 financial year during a meeting at Lynn town hall on Thursday night.

The plan includes freezes on both the borough’s portion of council tax and car parking charges for the fifth successive year.

Council leader Nick Daubney said the authority had only raised council tax by three per cent since 2005, compared to a national average of 17 per cent, and had delivered £7.6 million of savings since 2009.

He said: “We at least take this responsibility seriously. We continue with our quest to reduce waste and find better ways of doing things.

“I believe West Norfolk taxpayers have good reason to be thankful this borough is in safe hands of people who know what they’re doing.”

But UKIP leader Paul Foster claimed Mr Daubney had wasted millions more than had been saved by failing to act against waste earlier and suggested he now wanted the borough’s taxpayers to “applaud your failure”.

Labour backbencher Ian Gourlay was applauded by members of the public present when he said: “I look forward to seeing a new leader next year.”

And his group leader, John Collop, said he did not recognise the picture of the council painted by his Conservative counterpart.

He pointed to projections of 1.5 per cent rises in council tax in each of the following two years and a £2 million shortfall in income in 2017-18 as evidence of a “serious mess” to be solved in the future.

Mr Collop also pledged to re-introduce a pest control service if Labour takes control of the council after May’s elections.

But, despite opposing the budget, he said his group were not proposing any amendments, as they would be ignored.

He added: “The new council in May will be left to sort out the way forward.

“Let’s hope the leader doesn’t leave a note on his desk, ‘Sorry boys, all the money’s gone’.”

However, Mr Daubney claimed Labour would spend the council’s money in its “usual irresponsible way” if they won power.

And he insisted confidence in the council’s financial plans had led to the delivery of many major projects, such as the regeneration of Lynn’s Tuesday and Saturday Market Places, and service improvements including the introduction of a weekly food waste collection scheme.

He said of previous regimes: “Money was being spent on process and ourselves.

“Our heritage was crumbling and business was moving out of King’s Lynn as fast as it could move.”