North Norfolk face cutback in services

PUBLISHED: 12:22 27 January 2009 | UPDATED: 09:22 13 July 2010

People in north Norfolk could face having to pay more for car parking, have less CCTV coverage and see grassier roadside verges as the council looks to balance its books.

People in north Norfolk could face having to pay more for car parking, have less CCTV coverage and see grassier roadside verges as the council looks to balance its books.

Detailed work is now under way to come up with an £18m district budget that plugs a widening shortfall fuelled by a fall in investment income.

It sees officers and senior councillors looking at taking £363,000 from savings, and looking to generate another £464,000 from economies and increased fees.

A raft of measures is aimed at covering the £830,000 deficit, which is far greater than the £500,000 predicted a few months ago.

Most of the difference is caused by a drop in income from the council's investments after they were switched to safer but lower return portfolios during the credit crunch, though there have been some rising costs such as fuel for the rubbish collection contract.

But with the council seeking to keep its share of the local tax rise down to 3.45pc, it was having to look at ways of re-jigging the budget while causing minimum effect on local people, said cabinet member for resources Peter Moore.

Possible savings include:

Staff restructuring cutting five of the 295 council posts through wastage and voluntary redundancy (£84,000)

General cutbacks in training, overtime, postage and conference budgets (£83,000)

A review of CCTV coverage (£40,000)

Reducing verge cutting from 15 to five times a year (£25,000)

Possible new income includes:

A review of car parking charges (£115,000)

A new charge for confirming planning conditions (£38,000)

Increased garden waste charges (£23,000)

No major capital schemes - amounting to £629,000 next year, and £2.4m over three years - had been cancelled, though some had been delayed a little.

A £200,000 upgrade of toilets was still going ahead, but a £1.4m revamp of Cromer pier's legs and decking had been put back a year, after the most urgent works had been carried out.

A £200,000 refurbishment of the council's Cromer headquarters has also been delayed, with Mr Moore explaining that uncertainty about the future of the council, under the local government review, was also a factor in the decision.

He said north Norfolk had one of the lowest council tax rates in the country - at £130.59 for a Band D property - in a bid to keep it affordable for many locals on low wages. A suggested 3.45pc rise would take it up to £135.09 - an average of £167.23 when the parish demands were added.

Council leader Virginia Gay added: “We are working hard to minimise the pain and inconvenience. Although the future is not bright for anyone we are as well placed as we could be thanks to the good work by our officers and advisors.”

The draft budget will go to the council cabinet on February 2, and full council on February 19.

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