New Northants County Council finance chief to be appointed

The inquest was heard at County Hall
The inquest was heard at County Hall

The new chief finance officer who will have the job of making sure  Northamptonshire  County Council balances its books this year is to be appointed next week.

Interviews will take place on Wednesday (September 19) and the successful candidate will be put forward for endorsement at the full council meeting at County Hall the next day.

The job is perhaps one of the hardest in local government as the first duty of the person appointed is to help oversee £60m worth of financial savings and also try to make sure the council ends the 2018/19 financial year in the black. With nothing in reserves and a £35m deficit from the past financial year it is a very tall order.

Current finance officer Mark McLaughlin is leaving the post after nine months in the job.

During that time he has issued two 114 notices, which is a warning that the council may not be able to balance its books. He is the only local government senior finance officer in the country to have done so in two decades.

The Government-appointed commissioners who are overseeing the council will make the final decision on who gets the job.

The council report says: “Although the commissioners will exercise their power to appoint to this role, it should be noted that in all other regards the council followed its own procedure rules for the appointment. An appointment panel has been convened and will be chaired by the leader of the council. It will comprise of five councillors appointed according to the requirements of political balance, as well as the two commissioners and the chief executive.”

There have been many changes at the top level of officers at NCC over the past year.

Current chief executive Theresa Grant is the fourth at the council in 12 months.

Matt Bowmer, the director of finance at the council’s shared service LGSS, also leaves his post today (September 14) for a position at Enfield Council.

Both officers were thanked for their work by chairman of the council’s audit committee Bill Jessup when it met yesterday (Sept 13).

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporter