One factor which wont be doing Labour any favours in the Norwich North byelection on July 23 is the record of Labour-run Norwich City Council. The Band D Council Tax is £1,530 when added together with the County Council and other precepts (against a national average of £1,414 Band D Council Tax.) But perhaps for all this money the residents of Norwich get exceptionally good services? Er, no. The Audit Commission gives them an overall rating of two out of four stars.
For that category one star was the lowest they could get. But in another report on housing the Audit Commission decided to award them zero stars. This follows housing officers moving themselves into properties meant for the elderly. generally the state makes for a bad landlord – an excepetionally bad landlord when it comes in the form of Norwich City Council.
A Council should be the servant not the master of its residents. Is this the case in Norwich? Not for Lenny Woodward, a nearly blind 96-year-old war veteran. He put a glass jar in the wrong recycling wheelie bin and couldn't retrieve it so the Council refused to collect his rubbish. Or for the sheltered housing residents banned from eating takeaway fish and chips. Or hairdressers threatened with prison for serving mulled wine at Christmas. After all this is the Council that bans window boxes, conkers and bouncy castles.
The Conservative opposition on Norwich Council have made specific proposals for savings to allow the Council Tax to be cut.
One problem is that Council officers have clearly become distracted by bidding for unitary status rather than running efficient services. But it is pretty clear there is a wider malaise. I hope a Labour defeat in the byelection will be followed by a drubbing for them in next year's council elections.