Changes to cuts of bus services, trading standards and libraries as Northamptonshire County Council amends plans

Trading standards will be able to catch out fewer shopkeepers, although the budget cuts will be less severe than announced last December
Trading standards will be able to catch out fewer shopkeepers, although the budget cuts will be less severe than announced last December

County Hall has this week amended some of its plans, published in December 2017, to raise funds and cut services.

The alterations came after councillors from all parties scrutinised the controversial plans and gave their verdict. Here are the highlights.

Library Services

cut was: £1m

cut now: unknown

Passionate campaigns by the public, famous writers and a warning by councillors who scrutinise the budget won only a temporary reprieve of one year for all 21 libraries at risk. However 2019/20 will see communities have to pay utility bills. By 2020/21 all council funding - including rent- will cease and libraries with too little community funding would close. How much is saved will depend on the how much communities can raise themselves.

Bus Subsidies

was: £1.3m

now: £700k

A reduction in funding to support local bus services with the exception of the on-demand County Connect and Call Connect. These services will be reviewed to make them more cost effective, potentially adding in some fixed routes.

Trading Standards

was: £600k

now: £400k

Despite dire warnings from a cross-party panel of councillors cuts will go ahead, albeit at a reduced level. In effect, Trading Standards will only have two-thirds of the money they currently spend. The change was made because Tory cabinet leaders were mindful of unfettered rogue and unfair trading and rocketing sales of alcohol to under-18s.

Council tax

was 4.98 per cent rise

now 5.98 per cent rise

After years of proudly keeping tax low, the Tory administration flagged up last year it would ramp its council tax increase to the highest level it could without triggering a referendum - just like the police and borough council. Since the original plan was made, local government secretary Sajid Javid has allowed an extra one per cent - which cabinet leaders have grabbed with both hands.

Winter gritting

was: £475k

now: £475k

Goes ahead despite councilors in scrutiny committee warning that it will put the safety and the transport network itself at risk. They warned that the cuts should not proceed as “risks outweigh benefits” but were overruled. Fewer roads will be gritted and it will take longer.

Customer Service centre

was: £187k

now: zero

Scrapped. Penny Smith of Unison raised concerns about increased use of the internet to take enquiries. She said: “Not all people were able to use on-line methods and people could find this even more difficult in sensitive or emotive situations such as registering a death.”

Consultants budget

was 486k

now zero

Not happening due to a misunderstanding. Further research since the original proposal by council leaders showed essential roles such as the Independent Safeguarding Chair, who reviews high-level cases of child abuse are classed as ‘consultants’.

The plans will be rubber-stamped next Tuesday, February 13. All proposals are subject to any intervention taken by the Government following next month's inspection report.