North Norfolk clash over budget as its share of council tax is frozen
- Credit: Aaron McMillan
A heated debate between district councillors over their budget did not prevent them from freezing its portion of council tax bills.
In January, members of North Norfolk District Council's overview and scrutiny committee discussed the draft budget for the next financial year.
Among the proposals in the 2021/22 budget was a council tax increase of £4.95 for a band D property, which would lift the NNDC element of the total bill from £153.72 to £158.67 per year.
But in recent days, deputy leader Eric Seward said a budget surplus was forecast, so the council could afford to freeze its share of the bill.
At Wednesday's full council meeting, Mr Seward stressed that the freeze would not lead to any reductions in the services provided by the council and there would be no cuts.
Before councillors could vote on the budget, the amendments raised led to a heated debate between the Liberal Democrat-led council and the opposition Conservative group
Leader of the opposition Christopher Cushing said they were "delighted" to see council tax being frozen, but he criticised the budget for its lack of future thinking.
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“I have to say this is a good for nothing budget from a good for nothing administration,” he said.
“It’s abdicated its responsibility to prepare the council for future potential shortfalls. It's been fixated on a recent restructure at a time where the focus should have been on how we can help businesses get back on its feet to recover from this dreadful pandemic.”
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Tom FitzPatrick echoed these concerns.
“This is actually a cynical budget which is going to stir up trouble for the future.
“From some of the remarks, is it about the taxpayers of North Norfolk or is it a nod to other elections in May. If that's the case, I don't think it's managing money."
Greg Hayman, whose Zoom background displayed the phrase ‘council tax frozen’, was quick to draw on other Conservative-run councils across the region.
“Let’s remind the public of what Conservative administrations across North Norfolk are doing at the moment, which is putting up the council tax, and the catastrophic rise in council tax precept from the county council, who are in absolute chaos there in terms of running that business.
“Is that a model that councillor Cushing really wants to import to North Norfolk?"