High praise for turning around Northamptonshire County Council's fortunes due at final full meeting

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'We have all earned the right to walk away knowing we have done our duty'

Those who have helped to turn Northamptonshire County Council's fortunes around will be praised when the local authority meets for the last time next week.

Leader Matt Golby is set to thank members, officers and commissioners who have brought financial stability back after going bankrupt in 2018 during the meeting on Thursday (February 18).

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Councillors will also get an overview of the local authority's work over the past year, made all the more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic, before it is abolished on March 31.

Northamptonshire County Council will be abolished from April 1Northamptonshire County Council will be abolished from April 1
Northamptonshire County Council will be abolished from April 1

West and North Northamptonshire unitary councils will take over the reins from the county and six borough and district authorities on April 1.

In a report included in the agenda published yesterday (Thursday), Cllr Golby writes: "As the authority closes, we have all earned the right to walk away knowing we have done our duty and that we have delivered on our promise.

"The past few years have been immense, and we have publicly owned the issues the council has faced and now as we leave, having delivered on our promise, we should now also own what we have achieved.

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"I wish everyone, both officers and members of this authority the very best for the future in whatever form the future takes. We have all played our part in the recent history of this authority through thick and thin.

"I hope we can all leave, knowing we have given our best and share in the optimism and ambition to make a brighter and better future for the residents of Northamptonshire."

The county council will end the financial year with a £16.6 million underspend and £95.3 million in reserves after having a £35 million deficit three years ago.

Cllr Golby was chosen to lead the authority's recovery and pledged to put it in the best possible place before the unitary councils took over, which he believes they have achieved.

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He thanked the commissioners who were installed by the government to help sort out the finances as well as the new chief executive Theresa Grant and her team of officers.

"This position has been achieved by teamwork and the total dedication of members and officers of the council which has been overseen and supported by our commissioners," he wrote.

"If you were to ask me what is the difference between now and three or four years ago, I would say leadership, people and discipline."

Also in the agenda for next week's historic meeting is an update on how the council continues to address climate change after pledged to make the county carbon neutral by 2030.

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Grocery delivery robots, an e-scooter trial and mass tree planting are among the projects undertaken to reduce emissions but officers admitted Covid-19 has slowed progress.

The county council will also recommend that the work that has already started will be continued by the two new unitary authorities after April 1 - known as Vesting Day.

Other successes they say include £1.68m of funding from the Department for Transport to help support a number of cycling and walking schemes throughout the county and cash to deliver an e-bike trial.

Cabinet member for transport, highways and environment Jason Smithers said: “While the Covid-19 pandemic is obviously presenting us all with some very big challenges at the moment, the perils of climate change have not gone away, and nor will they unless we all continue to work together to confront this issue.

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“While Covid-19 led to many staff being redeployed to tackle the pandemic, a great deal of work continued on projects to reduce carbon emissions and reduce pollution, which is a considerable achievement.

“I’m delighted that this work will now continue in the new unitary authorities post-Vesting Day.”

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