Opposition brands county council decision to fund two new cabinet members at time of cuts 'disgraceful'

Some 27million of cuts are expected to be announced at a cabinet meeting next week.
Some 27million of cuts are expected to be announced at a cabinet meeting next week.

Cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council will announce the creation of two new cabinet members next week - at the same time they unveil their next round of some £40million of cuts to public services.

A "part-time" role and another cabinet member will be tasked with boosting the council's income, while a new "short-term" member will explore how reworking local government could save money.

The two new figures, who will be given allowances worth up to £19,000 each, will be announced at a full cabinet meeting on December 19, alongside a draft budget for 2018/19.

The draft budget is expected to cut £27.7million from Northamptonshire's services.

The first round of cuts, worth £9.8million, were met with widespread backlash in October, and will force the closure of up to 28 libraries and could make up to half of the county's trading standards team redundant.

Labour county councillor Gareth Eales said: "At a time when the county council are laying people off and services are being cut to the bone they are expanding their own cabinet and rewarding their colleagues. It's absolutely outrageous.

"In the face of cuts, county council employees are just expected to work harder. That's called efficiency. I think the cabinet could learn to do the same.

"Mary Antoinette wouldn't get away with this."

The two councillors appointed the new roles are yet to be announced.

The cabinet meeting was put back a week while councillors waited for an announcement on how much it would expect from central Government for the next financial year.

Meanwhile, the £9.7million worth of cuts, currently out for consultation, have put winter gritting, bus subsidiaries, and road markings at risk. Three options have been put forward for public libraries that all include closing down at least 15 of them.

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “We have introduced a new part-time cabinet member with responsibility for commercial development to support the council’s work around income generation and maximising use of resources, and, as a short-term appointment, a cabinet member to explore opportunities and consult with stakeholders around local government reform."