READER LETTER: ‘So many missed opportunities in budget’

Duncan Baker cites the future Sheringham Leisure Centre to replace Splash as one of the successes of

Duncan Baker cites the future Sheringham Leisure Centre to replace Splash as one of the successes of the formerly Conservative-run North Norfolk District Council. Image: NNDC - Credit: Archant

Regarding the North Norfolk District Council meeting on the 2019/20 budget. The February 27 budget meeting at NNDC was a disappointing night for hard working families and rate payers across the district.

Just three months after the Liberal Democrats with the 'Independents', took control, they presented a budget that was sadly short of any vision to make a real difference to the average family in north Norfolk.

Instead we saw them put up council tax by the maximum amount before they had to ask for a referendum.

This was a tax increase that the Conservatives fought hard to avoid, because it wasn't necessary.

The Conservatives, when they ran the district council increased council tax just once in seven years.

Indeed, the record shows that during their administration across the council, services were improved and enhanced.

This magnificent record was achieved through sound financial management and thoughtful planning.

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Just look at the evidence of what we achieved: Market towns funding, a sporting centre of excellence, a new Splash and skateboard park, plans for an indoor tennis centre/gym, supported by improved tennis facilities in North Walsham, Wells and Fakenham, six blue flag beaches (nearly a record), three green flags in our parks, the exciting Deep History Coast project, thousands of pounds awarded in Big Society grants, many affordable homes, £600K on refurbishing our public lavatories, effective enforcement and empty homes brought back into use and an anti-single use plastics campaign.

At the budget we naturally supported a new business development fund, because we always support business, as we have shown with the Egmere enterprise zone.

But we had actually rejected the idea of a property company several years ago.

Local authorities get huge tax advantages when they do things themselves, so it's always better to decide the right vehicle for a project case by case - not create a company because you think it sounds good.

When we suggested we support other schools to follow the example of Alderman Peel school's local industries hub, we were voted down. Why, I have no idea - all our students should have the same help and opportunities.

As for the arts, when you consider all six district councillors for North Walsham are Liberal Democrats, we were shocked that not one wanted to support our suggestion of £10,000 to help fund their own community's arts and drama - yet they were all happy to fund Cromer Museum.

Anyway, for North Walsham, at least there was the good news that our years of hard work to bring Wetherspoons to the town has finally borne fruit. Wetherspoons is really on the way.

The Conservatives have many new and exciting ideas which we are already sharing with residents, and so come May's elections, who will you trust?

The party who has delivered success after success?

Or the Liberal Democrats/Independents who very quickly gave up and passed their burden of responsibility to you by raising your taxes after just three months.


Conservative shadow portfolio holder for finance


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