Click the link for a BBC short explanation of how councils work and what they do.
Norfolk County Council
Norfolk County Council is the "upper-tier" local government authority providing a range of services including Children's, Adult Social Care, Highways, Public Health, Environmental services (including waste recycling and disposal), Trading Standards, and Fire and Rescue services.
Norfolk County Council holds full council elections every four years. The last full council election was held on 6 May 2021. Click for Results of the 2021 local elections. In between full elections, there may be a by-election to cover individual vacancies that occur.
The Norfolk County Council budget has two elements:
A revenue budget includes spending on the day-to-day running of services, for example, salaries, contracts for services, and council building expenses. Gross revenue budget for 2021-22: £1.518bn.
A capital programme includes expenditure on items that will be used by Norfolk County Council for more than one year: for example, land, buildings, Great Yarmouth Third river crossing, major road building projects. The capital programme for 2021-25+ of £538m includes funding of major schemes. Major schemes require a business case to be made to the relevant central government department who then decide on whether to make grant funding available. The outline business case for the Norwich Western Link road, for example, was submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2021 to try to secure 85% of the funding required.
City, District and Borough Councils in Norfolk
Below Norfolk County Council there are 7 second-tier local government district councils: Breckland District, Broadland District, Great Yarmouth Borough, North Norfolk District, Norwich City, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough, and South Norfolk District.
Borough/district council responsibilities can vary but generally include local planning and building control, council housing, environmental health, markets, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.
Some districts have borough status, which simply means the local council is called a borough council instead of a district council and gives them the right to appoint a mayor. Borough status is granted by royal charter the origin of which can date back centuries.
Norwich has city status, but this does not mean any extra powers other than the right to call itself a city council and appoint a mayor.
Broadland District Council is made up of 47 District Councillors representing 27 wards. District elections are held every four years. The most recent election took place on 2 May 2019, view the results for this election.
Broadland Green Party will be campaigning hard for the May 2023 district election. Please let us know if you would like to help!
Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council collaboration
In July 2018, Broadland District Council and South Norfolk District Council decided to begin a formal partnership of the two councils with a shared Managing Director.
The collaboration has resulted in an alignment of services, the sharing of staff, and a joint website. Since January 2020, staff have been working as one officer team, serving the two independent councils covering a huge geographical area for a district council. For example, it is 40 miles from Diss in the south to Aylsham in the north, a driving time of over 1 hour, on a good day. It's a similar distance and driving time from Foulsham in the west to the edge of Great Yarmouth district in the east.
So, whilst costs might be reduced by employing staff teams to deliver over a wider geographical area it puts more pressure on staff and potentially a diminished service for the combined 260,000 residents and 10,000 businesses.
The councils state, "the main focus of our collaboration is to drive economic and housing growth". This focus on growth to the potential detriment of our environment and long-term well-being must be monitored carefully and challenged when necessary.
This is why it is vital to have effective, hard-working, Green Party councillors elected to represent the concerns and priorities of local residents.
Parish and Town Councils in Norfolk
Town and Parish Councils are the first tier of local government. They are corporate bodies composed of elected councillors with a chair and vice-chair supported by a parish clerk. The Norfolk Association of Local Councils is a good source of information on the 540 parishes in Norfolk.
Parish councils vary in their level of activity, expenditure, numbers of councillors, and the frequency of meetings. Local councils raise a precept through the Council Tax to fund local projects and activities among the council tax-paying households in the parish.
Local councils support or influence the other tiers of local government (county and district/borough councils).
Parish councils have a consultation role in respect of planning applications although they are not the deciding authority. They support events and community buildings, provide assets such as village signs, dog litter, and waste bins. Activities and facilities can include providing allotments, burial grounds and cemeteries or markets, toilets, parks and play areas.
Council tax is a system of local taxation on domestic property collected by local authorities. Council Tax contributes to the funding of local councils.
District councils collect Council Tax in Norfolk for county, district, parish councils, and police and fire services.
Council tax accounts for 29% of Norfolk County Council funding and will raise £439m in 2021-22.
All homes are given a council tax valuation band. The band is based on the value of your home. A different amount of council tax is charged on each band. Each local authority keeps a list of domestic property in its area, together with its valuation band and is called the valuation list.
You can check your council tax band on GOV.UK or you can find it on your council tax bill.
For further information and help with Council Tax go to Citizens Advice.
Land Value Tax (LVT)
The Green Party supports a fairer alternative to Council Tax called Land Value Tax (LVT). It is part of the answer to many of today’s pressing problems: lack of affordable housing, sufficient housing in general, gentrification, and other unsustainable trends. Plus, it removes some unfair taxes too.
LVT is a tax on the value of land. Not on the house or building; just the land. It is paid by the landowners and should not be passed on to tenants. It would simplify taxes by replacing Council Tax, Business Rates, and land Stamp Duty.
Why is LVT green?
Big commercial builders, as distinct from your local builder, have land-banks, two or three years’ worth, usually with planning permission to build houses. It rests undeveloped waiting for a profitable time to build and sell the homes. A tax on land would force them to either build quicker, sell the land to someone who will, or re-designate the land, e.g. for a park. The latter would reduce the land’s monetary value (but maintain its biodiversity value!) and so reduce their tax.
LVT efficiently drives the process of using land for its designated purpose. And where land is scarce, like in a city surrounded by Green Belt, LVT is important for a fairer, more sustainable future.
LVT is a solution for cities. A 2016 Danish study (where LVT is implemented) saw it stabilising or even reducing land prices. It makes it more affordable for the state to build much needed cheaper properties and reduces the pressures of gentrification.
Based on a longer article by Clive Stevens in Green World: A Tax on Tories? January 2022