Norfolk County Council may need to cut back on opening hours of tips as cash crisis looms
Recycling centres could be forced to close on certain days under a series of dramatic measures proposed by County Hall in an effort to cut £15 million from its budget.
Other options being considered by Norfolk County Council include raiding adult social care reserves and possibly cutting funding to mobile library services by almost a half.
Critics have said the proposals will cause “immense hardship and worry” and will simply raise costs in other areas.
The Conservative-led authority needs to find millions of pounds in savings if it is to balance the budget.
Next month, its cabinet is being asked to approve the first £13 million of savings of an initial £15m target, with further cuts to come in the future.
They include the plan, which would save around £200,000 from next year’s budget, to close recycling centres on Wednesdays.
Other cuts outlined include:
Reducing Norfolk Record Office opening hours, with savings of £22,000 ;
Cutting funding to Norfolk Windmills Trust, which cares for 21 buildings across Norfolk, 13 of which are owned or leased by Norfolk County Council (£20,000);
Reducing weedkilling on the highways network to once a year (£130,00);
‘Centralising’ spend on communications (£100,000);
‘Back office efficiencies’ in parking enforcement (£100,000).
However, some of the biggest savings are expected to come from the already stretched adult and children’s services, with the council considering selling off the professional development centre in Woodside, Norwich
The centre is currently used for conferences, training days and exhibitions and is available for hire by community groups. The move is expected to save £1.25 million.
Other cash is expected to come from a £3m one-off raid of adult social care reserves and another £2.36 million from other savings in the department.
The council is also being asked to undertake a review of mobile library services. What changes could be made have not been announced but a saving of £200,000 is anticipated, almost half its £422,000 yearly budget.
The council also wants to increase income from registration services, which could involve putting up the costs of weddings and civil partnerships. This will bring in an additional £50,000.
In total, the authority needs to find £60 million of savings in 2023/24, as part of efforts to plug a £116 million gap by 2027.
Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, said: “Like all councils, we were facing higher costs and demand for services, even before the recent rise in inflation.
“A £60 million target is the highest we’ve faced in recent years, so it makes sense to start the process now, with an initial range of proposals.
“I’m determined to transform services, so that we can deliver them in a more cost effective way that’s fit for the future.”
Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group, said the “financial calamity” was a result of Conservative government policies but blamed the local party for years of “denial, inaction and poor decisions”.
He said: “There is no way of cutting services that people rely on where demand is already outstripping the budget without causing immense hardship and worry. Cuts to community services inevitably have a knock on and raise costs elsewhere.”