£28m to be saved in the next year

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Conservatives have pushed through their budget plans to save £28m in the coming year.

Yesterday members of the Conservative administration at Northamptonshire County Council voted through their budget plans which included cuts of £4m from prevention services, £500,000 from funding PCSOs and cutting nearly 300 posts.

During the six-hour meeting they also approved an amendment to their budget to invest a one-off cash injection of £300,001 into the police for an initiative designed to reduce violent crime and stuck to their promise of freezing council tax.

Council leader Jim Harker said: “Last month 40 per cent of the British population stopped saving so they could pay their household bills. They don’t want local councils to put up council tax and this budget recognises that.

“We’re putting money into protecting vulnerable people, such as older people and looked-after children, and an extra £300,001 into reducing violence. We are looking after people’s pockets and people.”

But the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent members criticised many of the Conservatives’ plans, including the funding cut to PCSOs and the proposal to invest £2m into tourism and business promotion group Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP).

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Brendan Glynane was backed by other opposition members when he challenged the Conservatives over their pledge in their last election manifesto to invest £500,000 a year into PCSOs, but the ruling group said it was up to the police to pay for policing.

And Labour leader Cllr John McGhee questioned their investment in NEP, saying: “Let’s stop paying quangos lots of money and put that back into the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Fellow Labour councillor Julie Brookfield also criticised the Conservatives for cutting £500,000 from children’s centres and remodelling Connexions to save £700,000 as part of the cuts to prevention services.

Conservative councillors welcomed two changes to earlier draft budget plans. They agreed to extend the supplementary schools funding until July and instead of cutting the Empowering Councillors fund from £7,000 per councillor a year to £5,000 they will now cut it to £6,000.