Norfolk County Council backs £60m cuts plan

About 400 demonstrators turned up to protest

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A package of £60m cuts over 12 months has been backed by Norfolk County Council at a meeting.

Two people were arrested during protests before the meeting in Norwich. It was to begin at 1000 GMT, but was delayed because of hecklers.

It is believed 1,000 people could lose their jobs because of the cuts at the county council.

The council at present employs about 10,000 people, a quarter of them part-time, and spends £600m a year.

The council budget includes a £25m cut to the county's children's services, but the council has pledged £21m to keep its community-based children's centres open.

Breach of the peace

The councillors also backed £8.7m of cuts to the council's environment and transport budget and a £14m cut to the council's community services.

It said it had revised its budget, which will see cuts of £155m over three years, after a large scale consultation with local people.

One revision includes a new pledge of £2.6m to support short breaks for disabled children.

The council said it was also investing £900,000 in commissioning a new approach to build the capacity of community to support and develop youth provision.

About 400 people gathered outside county hall in Martineau Lane before the start of the meeting on Monday.

Norfolk Police arrested two people for breach of the peace during the protests.

'Tough budget'

The Conservative-run council's leader, Derrick Murphy, said it had drawn up new plans following a consultation with residents.

He said: "This is a tough budget, but I believe it is a fair one, even though it cannot be without pain."

Mike Brindle, Liberal Democrat spokesman for children's services, asked if the Conservative group hated teenagers as they will bear the brunt of the cuts.

Councillor Andrew Boswell, chair of the Green party group, questioned the Conservatives' allocation of resources.

"What we have seen are very large cuts to social services, in some cases this is disastrous," he said.

Norfolk County Council has admitted the cuts are difficult but has pledged to continue to protect the public and the most vulnerable people in the county.

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