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Top 50 failures by the Conservatives in running Norfolk County Council

April 2, 2021 10:11 AM
Originally published by Liberal Democrat Group on Norfolk County Council

Top 50

FAILURES BY THE CONSERVATIVES RUNNING NORFOLK COUNCIL

Here is a list of the Top 50 failures by the Conservatives in running Norfolk County Council. Norfolk deserves better than this.

Failed

1- 10

1: Being the party of council tax

Their 2017 manifesto commitment was "we will keep council tax as low as possible" but they've increased it by 18% during their 4 years in office! And they have deferred an extra 1% increase to next year after the election.

2: Cutting services for the most vulnerable

The Conservatives will have made £180m worth of cuts since 2017/18 - the equivalent to raising council tax by 45%! The heaviest cuts are always in social care for those people who need them the most in 2021/22 it will be 43% of all the Council's cuts.

3: Breaking promises on economic growth

For the last 4 years, Norfolk's rate for creating new jobs has fallen year on year and the level of wages are well below regional and national averages - they have broken their 2017 manifesto promises to Work with businesses and other partners to boost growth and bring more jobs to Norfolk.

4: Lining their own pockets

While voting countless cuts, they also voted multiple times to increase Councillor Allowances by an overall 17.75% since 2017. And after appointing ten Cabinet members their pay now comes to 186K.

5: Failing Norfolk's Young People

Apprenticeship starts have fallen each year since a 2015/16 peak of 7,670 with a 25% fall in the number of apprenticeship starts in Norfolk up to August 2019 and then a further fall of 4% to January 2020 and 11% to April 2020.

6: Kept overspending their budgets

The Conservatives claim to be financially prudent yet continue to over spend their budgets and never deliver all the savings that are planned notably overspending the budget for the Norwich Northern Distributor Road by £56.5m. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/probe-call-over-norwich-ndr-cost-1478194

7: Putting the Government's money to deal with Covid into the bank

The Conservatives had the funds to swiftly deliver the 6,000 laptops and digital devices to those children who needed them but instead chose to start a campaign seeking voluntary contributions.

8: Making the Council Financially sick

Two years ago finance reports had red warnings saying how dangerous the Council's financial position was, now after £104m of covid money the financial black holes have been temporarily closed and the council has moved £18m into reserves. When the Covid money runs out the overspends and problems caused by how the Conservatives have handled the budget will return.

9: Being guilty of discrimination

An individual disabled Norfolk resident had to take the case to the High Court and the court found that the decision taken by the Conservatives was discriminatory - The High Court called the council's cuts "irrational, unnecessary and wholly out of proportion." The cost to the Norfolk taxpayer was more than £1 million for this bad decision. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-55636433

10: Refusing to listen to people with disabilities

The Conservatives then refused to apologise to people with disabilities for how they have been treated Councillor Margaret Stone told parents of a disabled child "I am increasingly disgusted in your campaign which is so selfish as to believe your needs are greater than the rest of the population." https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/couple-call-for-councillor-to-resign-over-offensive-email-1441230

11-20

Failed

11: Refusing to consider alternatives

The Conservatives voted against restoring this money in full called the Minimum Income Guarantee after being given multiple chances to do so. When questioned about it by the BBC the Cabinet member for social care walked out of the interview https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/call-for-bill-borrett-to-resign-after-bbc-radio-norfolk-1519730

12: Kicking people with disabilities when they are down

In an area where the chances of a person with disabilities getting a job are extremely low the Conservatives decided to slash the amount of money they could have to help with essential needs. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/norfolk-care-charge-rise-hits-disabled-people-1465642

13: Refusing to learn from others on the pandemic

The Conservatives refused to accept that there was a need for a local inquiry in 2020 on the Coronavirus pandemic to learn lessons before the future waves hit https://norfolklibdemcountycouncillors.co.uk/en/article/2020/1359628/liberal-democrats-call-for-inquiry-into-norfolk-s-response-to-coronavirus-pandemic

14: Trying to take credit for the work of others

In July 2020 Conservative Cabinet members were publicly criticised for backslapping on how well they thought they had dealt with the pandemic so far instead of learning lessons or planning for a second wave. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/norfolk-county-council-accused-taking-credit-low-rate-covid-1577084

15: Not fit to lead

One of Conservative Cabinet members in a meeting in July 2020 called the coronavirus pandemic a 'good crisis.' https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/dont-let-a-good-crisis-go-to-waste-row-complacent-1572864

16: Not taking leadership on Care Homes.

The Conservatives lacked leadership in giving enough quality of life and sharing good practise for care home residents earlier on during the covid pandemic. In February the rates of infection in Norfolk Care Homes were the highest in England https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/health/norfolk-care-home-deaths-highest-in-england-7300912

17: Refusing to consider alternatives to the closure of Holt Hall

The Conservatives closed Holt Hall as an outdoor learning facility as they couldn't find just 60K a year to run it and refused to consider alternative means of running it better. The Cabinet member showed a shocking lack of knowledge "Norfolk children will not miss Holt Hall." "Only North Norfolk residents are bothered about Holt Hall." https://www.fakenhamtimes.co.uk/news/local-council/motion-to-save-holt-hall-from-closure-fails-6895652

18: Trying to hide the decision to close Holt Hall

On 11 September, the Conservative Cabinet member at Norfolk County Council said "I can assure that there is no intention for Holt Hall to be closed for good". Yet just 4 weeks later on 8 October in closed private sessions the decision was taken to close the Hall. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/county-council-announces-holt-hall-closure-6400486

19: Not doing enough on economic development

In February the Conservatives voted against a Liberal Democrat proposal for an additional £1m to be spent on improving Norfolk's economic recovery from the pandemic https://norfolklibdemcountycouncillors.co.uk/en/article/2021/1395052/county-council-budget-unimaginative

20: Not backing business

The Conservatives voted down a Liberal Democrat plan to set up a management training scheme to give an extra boost to local businesses.

21-30

Failed

21: Leading the country in poor performance

Norfolk County Council had the second highest number of adult social care complaints in the country lodged with watchdogs in 2019/20. The Council has had to say sorry and pay out for its failures the equivalent of every fortnight. The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has sought a financial remedy in 24 cases in 2018/19 and 28 cases in 2019/20. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/norfolk-county-council-complaints-investigated-by-ombudsman-in-1433446

22: Failing special needs children

The Conservatives' leadership on providing care for SEND has been so bad that an independent watchdog took the highly unusual step of forcing the council to report their shockingly bad performance publicly for the next 2 years https://www.norfolklibdems.org/norfolk_county_council_shamed

23: Getting their priorities wrong (2/2)

In the middle of a pandemic, when it would be expected that the council would be focusing on providing the services that the public need the Conservatives decided to spend £2.7m on a revamp of council's meeting rooms (this was the initial figure and it is still rising!) https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/norfolk-council-faces-130m-spending-gap-as-coronavirus-impact-bites-1583386


24: Getting their priorities wrong (1/2)

The Conservatives after savage cuts to services for those people who are most in need decide to spend £1.9m for a car park extension at county hall https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/neighbours-fight-to-stop-1-9m-county-hall-car-park-1579428

25: Introducing DIY Household Waste Charges

The Conservatives in 2018 brought in Household DIY Waste Charges and then in 2019 saw record fly tipping in parts of Norfolk. Last month the Conservatives even voted against a Liberal Democrat proposal to trial a free day for people to return their DIY waste that had built up during the pandemic. https://norfolklibdemcountycouncillors.co.uk/en/article/2021/1394748/diy-household-waste-disposal-day

26: Breaking promises on recycling

Their 2017 commitment was to increase re-use and recycling rates. Yet Norfolk recycling rates have fallen to 43.4% in 2018/19 from 46.4% in 2016/17 with Norfolk ranked 161st across the country.

27: Giving too many people access to the Council's data centres

Large numbers of people were allowed access to the council IT data centres which handle personal and confidential information including from members of the public. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/worrying-numbers-had-access-to-data-centres-7077730

28: Sending Council IT staff to China on a freebie

The Conservatives excuse for not attending a County Hall conference about full fibre connectivity for Norfolk was that it had allowed two of its IT officers to fly to China as guests of a technology company

https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/flight-to-china-to-visit-huawei-defended-by-council-1456214

29: Refusing to listen to the public's concerns about safety on NDR roundabouts

There have been 61 crashes that have resulted in injury or fatalities on NDR since April 2018 but vital repairs and safety measures are still taking too long to complete. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/traffic/map-of-crashes-on-ndr-6923256

30: Ripping up their own planning rules

Conservative cabinet members overturned long standing planning rules to allow a company to move its headquarters to create a junction on a busy roundabout on the A140 at Swainsthorpe. Local residents are so concerned that they are taking the County Council to the High Court about the decision. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/business/questions-over-county-council-decision-over-ben-burgess-swainsthorpe-switch-1592612

31-40

Failed

31: Blaming covid on the Children

A senior Conservative councillor said "Some of the young people are abusing everything. I drove through the next village to mine on Saturday and at a small bus shelter there were 10 young people - all of them necking. I don't imagine any of them were in the same family. It was absolutely disgusting. The same sort of abuse I see practically everywhere." https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/county-councillors-concerned-over-coronavirus-complacency-1572184

32: Unaware of their own MP's vote on a crucial farming issue

When asked, a cabinet member seemed unaware that all the Norfolk Conservative MPs, who voted, had voted against a guarantee of a minimum standard to protect British food in parliament https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/business/norfolk-farmers-anger-as-agriculture-bill-passes-through-commons-1545530

33: Failing to feed hungry children

The Conservatives ask who is Marcus Rashford? Voted against lobbying the government on free school meal funding thought Norfolk's children weren't worth the price of a stamp https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/leading-tory-opposes-child-hunger-scheme-1586338

34: Turning down increasing numbers of appeals for support

In 2018/19 over 1 thousand appeals for support for special needs children in Norfolk were turned down https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/refusals-of-support-for-norfolk-special-needs-children-rising-1493314

35: Breaking promises on flooding

Their 2017 commitment was "to reduce the risk of flooding, by working with the Environment Agency and local landowners to ensure that ditches, dykes, and drains are well maintained and kept clear" yet they didn't update the 2015 Local Flood Risk Management Strategy until January 2021. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/weather/norfolk-flash-flooding-on-a140-long-stratton-6868892

36: Failing to tackle air pollution

Voted against Liberal Democrat proposals for a cutting edge technological solution to improve air pollution in Norwich https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/lib-dems-want-citytrees-in-norwich-7563968

37: Cutting early years Funding

The Conservatives literally cheered and clapped following their decision to close 38 of 53 Children Centres - slashing the budget including the hardship fund for those families with children who are in financial difficulty. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/decision-close-38-norfolk-s-children-s-centres-1348898

38: Breaking promises on Care Homes

Their 2017 commitment was to work with the Care Quality Commission to make sure we get the best standards for our public and private care homes yet the number of Norfolk's Care Providers rated good or outstanding has declined to 76% and is now ranked 10th out of 11 authorities in the East in England.

39: Failing to improve the safety of Norfolk's roads

Norfolk roads are becoming more dangerous as the numbers of people who are killed or seriously injured on Norfolk roads continue to rise with a shocking increase of 179 last year. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/norfolk-roads-fatalities-injuries-figures-1568524

40: Not supporting rural transport

The Conservatives voted against improving rural public transport and voted against additional funding for Road Safety and Highways Maintenance.

41- 50

Failed

41: Leaving Transport Plans in Tatters

The Conservatives plan to get £100m of Government investment for Public Transport only got £32m after an overwhelming vote of no confidence from Government in the Tories' plans. Also voted against Liberal Democrat proposals for public transport innovation, and post-covid recovery funding for rural bus routes. https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/norwich-gets-32m-transport-changes-cash-3387962

42: Openly Hating Buses

One Conservative cabinet member even said "we don't do buses"in 2019, then in 2020 another senior Councillor said "Buses in rural areas are a waste of time - no point spending money on them".

43: Voting against cheap electricity schemes

The Conservatives voted against a Liberal Democrat proposal to set up cheap, locally generated, renewable electricity schemes https://norfolklibdemcountycouncillors.co.uk/en/article/2020/1375405/local-electricity-can-reduce-electricity-bills

44: Passing the buck on economic growth

Real economic growth needs vision and leadership and as a lead local authority, Norfolk County Council should be in the driving seat. They also voted against establishing an independent Economic Commission for Norfolk to look at how the county could realise its full economic potential. https://norfolklibdemcountycouncillors.co.uk/en/article/2020/1368773/liberal-democrats-call-for-a-comprehensive-economic-recovery-plan-for-norfolk

45: Increasing the numbers of high paid staff

The Conservatives have increased the numbers of Council staff earning more than 50K, which is twice the average wage in Norfolk, from 272 staff in 2017-18 to 327 staff in 2019/20 a 20% increase.

46: Taking away transport to school

The Conservatives refused to give a commitment to increasing capacity in the school transport network and increasing the budget for this in November 2019. This resulted in many children losing transport to school.

47: Making Norfolk less safe

Despite pledging in 2017 to make Norfolk safer, public confidence is down 4% in the last 12 months, and in the last four years the conviction rates for Domestic Abuse and Serious Sexual Offences are all down.

48: Failing to spend on safeguarding

Norfolk County Council had the 2nd lowest spend on safeguarding children and young people's services in the East of England - https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/search/safeguarding#page/3/gid/1/pat/6/par/E12000006/ati/102/are/E06000055/iid/90918/age/173/sex/4/cid/4/tbm/1/page-options/ovw-do-0_car-do-0

49: Cutting off debate

In 2019 the Conservatives stopped the council debate on women's State Pension Age even though WASPI campaigners had waited patiently for hours https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/local-council/anger-norfolk-county-council-over-waspi-bus-travel-debate-1482182

50: Cutting the Schools music service

It's said that music is the food of love but the Conservatives couldn't control their budgetary overspends so decided to make cuts to its schools music service in 2020 https://www.edp24.co.uk/news/education/mental-health-warning-over-music-education-cuts-1514342