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Norfolk County Councillors reject council tax rise motion

PUBLISHED: 15:17 20 October 2014 | UPDATED: 16:22 20 October 2014

Dr Wendy Thomson, managing director of Norfolk County Council. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Dr Wendy Thomson, managing director of Norfolk County Council. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Councillors have given their strongest indication yet that they are not prepared to increase council tax in Norfolk after throwing out a suggestion that bills should rise by 1.99pc next year.

Members of Norfolk County Council today rejected a motion by Green party councillors that the local authority should not rule out the possibility of putting up council tax in 2015/16 to help balance the books.

Officials from the county council announced in August that there was a £17.5m funding gap for the next financial year, which has since been reduced to £13m.

Richard Bearman, leader of the Green party group, said he believed that the impact of a rise in council tax was not being spelt out as part of a budget consultation.

“Increasing council tax by 2pc is one option and it could provide £89m more income over the next five years. This may be the least worse option,” he said.

However, the motion was rejected by 50 votes to 24 at a full council meeting.

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of the Conservative group, said he would prefer to see council tax lower.

“We have to make more efficiencies, generate income and use assets and there is potentially more we can do before we hit hard working people even more,” he said.

However, George Nobbs, leader of the county council, said it was a “very silly” motion and a tax rise could still be on the table when the budget for 2015/16 is set in February.

“We are not ruling out the possibility of proposing a council tax increase because we are consulting on it,” he said.

Norfolk County Councillors unanimously approved a streamlining of the local authority’s senior management team, which will help save money.

The restructure by new managing director Wendy Thomson will see the number of chief officer posts reduce from ten to five. The new boss warned that the middle management structure at County Hall would also be reviewed following the changes.

Dr Thomson said eight out of ten chief officers were in interim roles and the shake-up would bring “stability” and “clear accountability” to the organisation. A report to councillors said the net reduction in senior management costs since 2010 had been £470,000.

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