William Eichler 06 February 2018

MPs call on Government to ‘take over’ Northamptonshire CC

Northamptonshire’s seven MPs have all signed a statement saying they had ‘no confidence’ in the county council’s leadership due to its ‘self-inflicted’ financial problems.

Northamptonshire County Council’s director of finance issued a section 114 order last weekend, banning all expenditure aside from what is necessary for statutory services for safeguarding vulnerable people and staff pay. 

The Conservative-run council warned the Government it was facing difficulties in 2013/14. According to estimates produced for the Treasury, the council faced a £157m cash shortfall between 2006 and 2020 before damping.

Last month, local government secretary Sajid Javid ordered an inspection of the council’s finances amid growing concerns over its financial predicament.   

In their statement on the current state of the authority’s finances, the county’s seven MPs said the problems were ‘self-inflicted’ and accused the leadership of misleading the Government, MPs, and its own councillors.

‘As Conservative MPs for Northamptonshire we have been concerned with how the cabinet at Northamptonshire County Council have conducted its financial management for a number of years,’ the statement reads.

‘Indeed, we have had many meetings with this and the previous Secretary of State for MHCLG (former DCLG) throughout that time.

‘However, whilst we knew things were not right, when we have approached members of the cabinet at the county council, we have been repeatedly told, even as recently as December 2017, that the county council would be able to balance its budget.’

The statement continued: ’Whilst we do have confidence in the staff of the authority, who we have dealt with on many levels and constantly deliver good services in tough circumstances - and we have great confidence in the backbench county councillors, who we believe could be capable of driving the county forward positively, if only they were given the opportunity to do so; we have no confidence in the leadership of the county council and the majority of the existing cabinet.’

The MPs concluded by calling on Mr Javid to intervene and appoint commissioners to run the council.

Northamptonshire CC declined to comment while the Government inspection was underway.

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