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LATEST: Norfolk County Council budget passed after four-hour protest delay

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The scene of the protest in the Norfolk County Council chamber (7091141)
The scene of the protest in the Norfolk County Council chamber (7091141)

Norfolk County Council budget proposals have been passed this afternoon, following a four hour delay caused by a climate change protest.

Members backed plans for a 2.99 per cent rise in the authority's share of council tax, adding around £40 to the annual bill for a typical band D home, at a meeting in Norwich.

A series of opposition amendments, which sought extra funding for areas including children's centres and transport, were defeated, though a proposal for funding to reduce plastic use was passed.

Council leader Andrew Procter said the authority had been pressing ministers for greater certainty on future funding, amid widespread criticism of the government's treatment of local government.

But he added: “This budget is balanced, is robust and allocates our resources across Norfolk’s people and communities in the best way we can, while protecting the frontline services the people of Norfolk rely on so dearly.

“There are major financial challenges ahead, there is no doubt of that and we will have to deal with them head on. As leader, I am confident that this council under this administration will rise to those challenges.”

However, the debate is likely to be overshadowed by a protest inside the chamber which meant the meeting didn't start until shortly after 2pm this afternoon, instead of the scheduled 10am.

A group of demonstrators occupied the council chamber in protest at plans to build a new road on the edge of Norwich.

They fear the proposed Western Link, which would join the new Northern Distributor Road to the A47, would cause major environmental damage to the Wensum Valley.

The meeting was adjourned several times before police were eventually called in to remove the protestors.

Swaffham division councillor Ed Colman said he had seen at least two of the demonstrators being led away in handcuffs.

He added: "I feel it's absolutely vital we carry on today to send out a strong message to the people of Norfolk who we represent."

South Lynn and Clenchwarton representative Alexandra Kemp had also been seen talking to the demonstrators in a bid to bring the standoff to an end.

She said: "Everyone has the right to have a protest, but they should have left by 10. They're alienating the decision makers."

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