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Councillors in Cambridgeshire 'reluctantly' agree to raise council tax by nearly 3%

Shire Hall, Cambridge Credit: ITV News Anglia

Councillors in Cambridgeshire have agreed to raise Council Tax by almost three per cent.

It says it is currently the third lowest funded County Council in the Country and the increase will protect vital services.

The move will add an extra £1.14 to the average householders bill.

  • Cambridgeshire gets £75m less in Government funding than an average London Borough.
  • £13.7m less than an average County Council.

The County Council has projected a budget gap for 2018/19 of £4.3m despite a range of transformation and efficiency plans already being undertaken.

Members reluctantly recommended the additional 2.99% council tax increase in its 2018/19 budget which will be put to a Full Council meeting on February 6th for final approval.

"If the outdated and broken funding formula had been rectified by now or if transitional funding was appropriately maintained, we would not need to consider whether to increase Council Tax in Cambridgeshire.”

– Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council

More people visiting the East of England

Credit: ITV News Anglia

Official tourism figures show the number of overseas visitors to the East of England grew last year.

VisitBritain says more than 1.8 million international tourists came to the region in 2017. That's a rise of about 3% compared to the previous year.

However it wasn't such good news for the East Midlands, which includes Northamptonshire. The number of overseas visitors there fell by 5% to under a million.

Credit: ITV News Anglia

Nationally in the first nine months of 2017 there were a record 12.7 million visits to English regions outside London, up 4% compared to the same period in 2016.

Boosting inbound tourism throughout Britain is at the heart of our work, so it is very encouraging to see the growth across our nations and regions. Tourism is one of our most valuable export industries and we are forecasting that growth will continue in 2018, with 41.7 million overseas visits to the UK and visitors spending almost £27 billion.

– VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates

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Norwich MP says Colman's decision is 'devastating body blow' for city

The local MP for the historic Colman's mustard site in Norwich has described the decision by Unilever to shut the factory as a "body blow for the workers and the city of Norwich."

Clive Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South said: "Colman's is an iconic brand for this city and this news is going to be devastating. It's a terrible way to start 2018 coming on the back of Britvic's announcement that they will leaving the same site."

Colman's Mustard was started near Norwich in 1814 and moved production to its current site in the city in 1858.

The Conservative MP for Norwich North, Chloe Smith, said the decision was "bitterly disappointing" and a "real blow" to workers.

She said it was a distressing day for Norwich.

"Senior figures in Government have stood with us throughout the last few months to try to keep these historic brands in Norwich.

"The grassroots campaign has been a credit to the city and that has its reward in that the Colman's brand will remain in Norwich and the supply chain may remain in place.

"I am fundamentally disappointed that neither of these companies have chosen to keep the bulk of their operations in Norwich. "My first thoughts are with those constituents who may lose their jobs; my focus for the longer term will be that major employers should continue to see Norwich as a great place to be."

– Chloe Smith MP, Norwich North (Con)

New stretch of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road opens

The new section of the road will open at 6am on 21st December Credit: Mike Page

Another stretch of the Norwich Northern Distributor Road is to open before Christmas.

The 7.5km section of dual carriageway between the A140 Cromer Road and the A1151 Wroxham Roa opens to traffic on Thursday morning (21st Dec).

It now means two thirds of the road has been finished, two months ahead of schedule.

"I am extremely pleased, not to say relieved. A week ago the weather turned against us and for a while it seemed unlikely that we would make up the lost time. Since then, the team has pulled out all the stops, and it is a great credit to Balfour Beatty and our own staff that the next 7.5kms of dual carriageway will be open before Christmas."

– Ian Taylor, Project Manager for Norfolk County Council

Better weather over the last few days has allowed the completion of white lines and road studs and other outstanding works.

Inspections by the construction team have confirmed that remaining minor works will be finished in time.

"Having two-thirds of Norwich NDR open by Christmas - two months ahead of schedule - is a tremendous achievement. That's eight and a half miles of dual carriageway helping people get around, easing pressure on other routes and supporting businesses."

– Cllr Stuart Clancy,Vice-Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Environment, Development & Transport Committee

Demolition work starts on Luton's Purley centre

Demolition of the Purley Centre, Luton Credit: Agency

Demolition work has started on the Purley Centre on Luton's Marsh Farm estate.

The grey concrete 60s shopping centre, which has a multi-storey block of flats above, is being knocked down as part of a £25 million regeneration project for the area.

The Purley centre back in 2008 Credit: Agency

In July 1995 there were two nights of rioting on the estate. 500 people, mainly teenagers, attacked the police with petrol bombs, bottles and bricks. It followed four days of riots in 1992.

The shops that were in the Purley Centre have moved and the site will now be used to build 93 new homes.

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