Northamptonshire MPs hold ‘emergency meeting’ with Secretary of State over county council crisis

Sajid Javid and council leader Heather Smith.
Sajid Javid and council leader Heather Smith.

All seven Northamptonshire MPs met Sajid Javid yesterday (Monday) to discuss a damning financial review of the county council.

The MPs held an emergency meeting with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, over the findings of the Local Government Associations’ (LGA) independent financial review of the council.

The seven Tories said the Secretary of State ‘was left in no doubt as to the deep anxiety expressed by them’ about the findings of the independent report, which confirmed their longstanding concerns about the ongoing viability of NCC.

Findings from the report included that the “the council does not currently have robust and deliverable plans for its long-term financial sustainability”, “there is no medium term financial plan in place which will sustain the council beyond the end of the current financial year (2017/18)”, and “there is no financial strategy to deliver a sustainable position for the council”.

The group – comprising of Peter Bone (Wellingborough), Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Tom Pursglove (Corby), Michael Ellis (Northampton North), Andrew Lewer (Northampton South), Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry) and Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) – said Mr Javid listened carefully to their concerns during the 45-minute meeting.

He undertook to consult with senior departmental officials and it was agreed that a further meeting would be held shortly.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “We are aware of the meeting between MPs and the Secretary of State.

“We have also met with the Secretary of State to discuss the financial position and we look forward to meeting the MPs at a specially convened meeting taking place in November.

“We welcome the feedback received in the finance peer review, which was instigated at the request of Northamptonshire County Council and will now become a useful tool for us as we plan for the future.

“While we accept the many of the comments about the severity of the financial challenge and difficulties we have faced we don’t agree with other elements of the report with regard to the aspects of the council’s management of this situation.

“We have worked hard to consistently deliver a balanced budget through innovative ways of working and limiting the impact on frontline services, despite facing unprecedented levels of demand and reducing central Government funding.

“There are other local authorities who are in a similar financial position as ourselves but few who have seen the huge population growth as Northamptonshire, or have such limited historical assets or reserves as we do.

“This is why we will continue to review the way we deliver our services to ensure value for money for the taxpayer while calling on Government for an urgent review of the current funding model.”

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