BREAKING NEWS: Northamptonshire County Council rubber stamps £58 million budget cuts that will see 130 jobs go

The 58 million worth of cuts has been approved despite two protests at County Hall.
The 58 million worth of cuts has been approved despite two protests at County Hall.
16
Have your say

A five per cent council tax hike and £58 million worth of cuts were approved by Northamptonshire County Council - as the ruling Conservatives dismissed protests, "death threats" and an alternate budget that promised to axe a tenth of the amount.

And proposing the massive cuts at County Hall today, which will see children's centre spending cut from £9.8 million to around £2 million, dementia cafe's funding withdrawn and 130 staff made redundant, cabinet member for finance Councillor Robin Brown admitted the council will probably need to increase its tax precept by the full amount over the next two years to make up for an £80 million year-on-year shortfall.

The budget setting meeting at County Hall today, saw 58 million of cuts approved.

The budget setting meeting at County Hall today, saw 58 million of cuts approved.

Labour's alternative budget - which looked to trim back consultancy fees, cut down the council's £7 million a year private taxi bill and stop any further investment in Chester Farm until the proposed tourist site can be afforded, was turned down for being too "vague."

The opposition group's alternative budget proposed to cut just £5.7 million.

There were impassioned speeches by more than a dozen public speakers, calling on the authority to re-think the cutbacks, which will see £25 million taken out of adult social care alone.

Mark Jones of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said moves to get rid of a special Technical Rescue Vehicle (TRV) based at Mereway fire station could endanger lives.

Paul Crofts of Save Northants Services makes his speech at at County Hall.

Paul Crofts of Save Northants Services makes his speech at at County Hall.

He said: "This council's budgetary decisions will be will be taking 12 full-time posts away from the fire and rescue services.

"This doesn't make for a stable Northamptonshire."

Stephanie De Vally, whose father's dementia cafe will be cut from April as part of the proposals, said: "Your cuts might work on your spreadsheet, but they aren't good value for people."

Unpaid carer Linda Walton said her 96-year-old mother's dementia will be greatly affected when the council scraps its contract with the specialist Drayton Centre facility in Kingsthorpe.

She said: "Specialist day centres such as the Drayton Centre give carers a break.

"We know that moving people with dementia causes them much confusion."

And on the growing difference in care standards between the state and self-funded, she said: "Does this council want there to be a two-tier day care system?"

Save Northants Services (SNS) campaigner Ron Mendel said people have been left exhausted because two weeks of successive protests and a swell of opposition to the cuts during the consultation process have failed to divert the Conservatives from their course of cuts.

This year's cuts come a year after the council ceased the Nourish school meals service, shut the Ecton Brook care home

He said: "Sometimes I feel like I'm speaking to you from a parallel universe.

"I'm speaking and I cannot get across. There is no dialogue."

Paul Crofts, of SNS made a plea to the Conservative group to repeal the Drayton Centre closure.

"Someone needs to propose an amendment and re-think the closure of the Drayton Centre.

"We are closing a centre of excellence and send people to TurnFurlong which is no improvement."

But the Conservative group voted through the proposals.

It means the council tax changes will see a Band D property's annual bill rise to £1,166.

Councillor Andy Mercer (Con, Rushden South) even went as far as saying some councillors had received "death threats" in recent weeks on the basis of the cuts.

Councillor Andre Gonzales de Savage, on the cuts to the fire service, said alternative options being considered were shutting five fire stations, adding the move to get rid of the Technical Response Vehicle at Mereway and begin merging control rooms with Warwickshire was the "lesser of two evils."

Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Robin Brown, lambasted Tory colleagues in Whitehall for reducing funding to local councils in his speech.

But he claimed the £58 million worth of cuts will still see the most vulnerable protected.

He said: "This will help support high-value services for our adult population.

"Our budget is balanced and moving towards sustainability, furthermore it is deliverable.

"We have cut out waste, but that will need to continue.

"This budget ensures we have a fair and equitable use of our resources. It will ensure those in need get the spending they require."