Let’s get back to business, says council leader

Council leader Jim Harker
Council leader Jim Harker

The leader of Northamptonshire’s Conservatives said he is looking forward to getting back to business.

Cllr Jim Harker, who has led the council since 2005, said he was pleased his administration had been given a vote of confidence but admitted turn-out was disappointing.

He said: “It’s £1bn worth of public money. It’s a shame a lot of people don’t think it’s worth having a say in how it’s spent.”

The council leader added: “As far as the way forward is concerned it’s business as usual, but with a number of challenges and opportunities.”

Cllr Harker said two of the most pressing issues were to get to grips with safeguarding children – following a damaging Ofsted report last year – and the state of the roads.

And he added: “With the growth agenda coming along we want to dual the A43 between Northampton and Kettering and we want to get the Isham bypass on the books.”

But he warned the climate of austerity would continue to restrain the council.

He said: “The biggest challenge of all, of course, will be resource funding.

“It’s not going to be easy.

“We are going to have to carry on making savings.

“We are determined to weather the storm and make sure Northamptonshire continues to be one of the most prosperous places in the country.”

Conservative administrations in neighbouring councils like Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire and Lincolnshire lost their majorities, but Cllr Harker said the party’s relatively good showing here showed voters were happy.

He said: “We have got a pretty solid majority.

“We must have been doing something right.”