Calls for audit of partnership

Calls are being made for a “robust” report examining whether taxpayers benefit from a business promotion group.

Cllr Brendan Glynane, the leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Northamptonshire County Council, called for greater transparency to ensure the £2m of funding given by the local authority to Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP) is value for money.

The partnership has an office in Brussels which costs £200,000 a year to run.

Mr Glynane said: “NEP is receiving £2m of taxpayers’ money yet does not meet in public, or publish spending over £500, as the Government’s ‘Transparency Agenda’ demands.

“There have been some serious concerns raised about NEP’s performance and accountability.

“We know that economic regeneration and creating jobs are crucial in the current situation nationally.

“We also know that it is equally important that, with such a limited amount of public money available, every penny of Northamptonshire taxpayers’ cash is spent wisely and efficiently.”

He added: “The county council leader and leaders of the opposition need to be in agreement on what it [the audit] is going to be looking at, who is going to be doing it and what sort of examination it is going to be.”

A spokesman for the county council said: “Northamptonshire County Council has agreed a three-year annual prosperity fund of £2m with NEP.

“We are now in the second year of funding and we would look towards having the independent ‘health check’ this autumn.

“The health check would be a high-level assessment giving an objective view of NEP and the quality of its work.”

Northamptonshire County Council leader Cllr Jim Harker was unavailable for comment.