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Norfolk Council first in East to approve its spending budget

Deborah McGurran | 10:33 UK time, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

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It took four and a half hours, a delayed start and three arrests but this afternoon Norfolk became the first County Council in our region to pass its budget.

One thousand people will now lose their jobs and many services will be reduced. But the council is pleased that no libraries will close, most transport subsidies are staying in place and so too are crossing patrols - so lollipop ladies and men won't be erased from the streets of Norfolk as they surely will elsewhere.

"This is a budget Norfolk can be proud of," said council leader Derrick Murphy, who also admitted that this had been the toughest budget to draw up in the Council's 37 year history.

"We have listened to what the people of Norfolk felt were the most important to keep on funding."

"Norfolk County Council is seeing a grant cut of £29.4m in the coming year and a further £17.2m for the year after," he told councillors.

Lollipop person's clothes and sign

Lollipop people will not be cut in Norfolk

"The stark facts are that in future the council will not be doing so much and would not be employing as many people."

He said the authority would "radically transform" itself with a much sharper focus on efficiency and would work more closely with partners and local communities.

He also said that despite the cuts people should remember that the council would still be investing £603m of public money in local people, services and communities.

Just under £60m of savings were approved today.

Fifty one councillors voted for the budget, 21 against and there was one abstention.

Over the next three years the council is looking to save a total of £155m.

The main loser today was youth services, which sees its budget cut by £25m.

Although the council has announced plans today for a Youth Investment Fund designed to help local organisations take over the youth clubs and run them.

Some 400 people demonstrated outside and inside the Council chamber - they dubbed today the "Valentine's Day Massacre".

"It's an amazing turnout," said former Labour MP Ian Gibson.

"It's a real reflection of the anger in Norfolk which is simmering."

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