I objected to the Norwich Western Link on the basis that it is unaffordable and unjustifiable – unaffordable in financial terms and unjustifiable because of its significant environmental impact.
At the time of our June 2021 Special Full Council meeting, we were debating the first of the big increases – with the bill rising then to £198m – and here we are for the second such big increase – we’re up to £251million. And if that’s not bad enough, my question to the Cabinet Member for Finance at the recent Cabinet meeting confirmed that we’re looking at a further £35million in interest payments for borrowing Norfolk County Council’s share of the bill – that’s nearly £900k a year in interest payments alone, or £900k a year in revenue not available for services (the minimum revenue provision over the next 40 years will be over £1.5m extra a year!). All of this of course is assuming that the Government agree to their share and remember, once the Government share is confirmed, it is capped – so any increase in costs past this point will fall 100% to this Council and that’s when we really will see the Norfolk County Council costs shoot up.
We’re over £70million now, and rising, and that’s just Norfolk County Council’s share.
Our services are being cut and Norfolk’s residents are suffering as this administration’s obsession and blinkered vision continues. Every single one of the cuts to services considered at the recent Cabinet meeting could be entirely avoided if it were not for the funds being consumed by this road:
• Saving £200k a year from closing HWRCs on Wednesdays and £70k a year from reducing Summer opening hours
• Saving £200k a year from reducing mobile library service
• Reduced funding for Waste Reduction initiatives and cuts to Norfolk Windmills Trust
• A single treatment for weeds on our highways network
As well as destroying the environment, destroying habitats and protected species, this road will destroy Norfolk County Council’s services and its financial credibility. It’s time to pull the plug.