Let’s make Northamptonshire’s voice heard in Westminster

Houses of Parliament. Picture by David Martyn Hunt
Houses of Parliament. Picture by David Martyn Hunt

There comes a time when the official channels no longer work. A time when the people need to take a more direct form of action.

With Northamptonshire’s budget cut to the bone by Government, now is that time.

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Our members of Parliament have asked nicely for a fairer deal based on the size of our population today rather than several years ago.

Delegations from County Hall have pointed out the £134 per person per year disparity between well-off Surrey and Northamptonshire.

What has Whitehall done about it so far? Patted us on the head, closed the door and forgotten us.

Government funding for services has always been important.

It funds new roads and repairs old ones. It foots the bill for community healthcare and children’s social services. It makes sure our elderly are looked after.

But now it really looks like the wheels are coming off.

Care homes can’t bridge the gap between how much it costs to properly look after elderly people and the money they receive to cover basics.

Fire Brigades Union bosses are adamant that cuts have led to slow response times to recent house fires in the county. That alone is scary.

And it feels like we are fast arriving at a crisis point .

Last month, County Hall leaders took the unprecedented step of issuing a statement saying enough is enough, the cuts have gone as far as they can.

A Tory council virtually begging Tory MPs to join with it to squeeze some blood from the stone of Conservative austerity. Desperate stuff.

And as if further confirmation of our dire predicament were needed, this week off goes chief executive Paul Blantern into the sunset.

Just as council leader Cllr Jim Harker said in more explicit terms as he retired in 2015, Dr Blantern was in effect shrugging ‘I’ve done all I can.’

But we must move forward, not ruminate on the past. The question is, what do we do about it.

Yes, we need a fairer deal for all our essential services, which means more money from the top. But first, we need to make them listen.

For too long Northamptonshire officials have been easily ignored, with mandarins all too aware that kicking up a public fuss is not in the interests of the NHS or the local authority.

With Brexit occupying everyone in Whitehall, the same story is repeating itself again.

But the ones who can make a scene, the ones whose interests are served by making a huge row, is us, the people, and you, our readers.

Today we’re asking you to take a minute of your day to sign a petition that forces the Government to tell us why we are constantly underfunded.

The petition’s title is Review the share of Government money spent on Northamptonshire services.

Urge everyone you know to sign it.

If we get 10,000 signatures, the Government must respond. If we reach 100,000 – one seventh of our population – the issue must be considered for a full Parliamentary debate.

This, we know, is just the first step.

Having a debate doesn’t lead directly to a huge grant increase.

But what it does is let them know we won’t be dismissed, that we won’t sit quietly and watch money go to better-off counties while Northamptonshire suffers.

Governments listen when enough people speak.

It’s time to raise our voices.