The Leader of North Norfolk District Council’s Conservative Opposition spoke out tonight at what he described as a “very disappointing budget” for the year ahead and over-reliance on ‘government bail outs’ to balance the books.
Speaking following the meeting, Cllr Cushing said:
The freeze in council tax is, of course, welcome at a time when many people are struggling financially. Our thanks must go to Duncan Baker for raising this important issue in Parliament on 10th February. Indeed, it seems to have prompted one of the fastest U-turns in political history, with NNDC’s Lib Dem administration announcing a council tax rise on 1st February – then changing their minds just a fortnight later.
The Council has received over £87 million in government support over the past year, including £2.2m in direct support to compensate NNDC for loss of income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cllr Cushing added:
It is due to the tremendous support the government has given to NNDC and not through any prudent financial management on their part that they now have a surplus and can afford – for one year only – to freeze council tax. But with a very disappointing budget, a lack of any strategic ideas, and a culture of waste and profligacy, it is clear they intend to hike up Council Tax in future years and hope the government will bail them out.”
The previous Conservative-led administration initiated a number of money-saving proposals in 2016/2017 that now deliver an estimated £750,000 of savings for the Council per annum.
Last year, the Liberal Democrats began a programme of management restructuring at the Council which has so far cost over half a million pounds and is yet to be completed. A police investigation into the circumstances under which the restructuring was initiated is still ongoing.