Four of Northamptonshire’s seven MPs have backed the county council’s call for fairer funding as the authority faces having to make half-a-billion pounds worth of service cuts.
This week county council leader Cllr Heather Smith made an extraordinary plea to communities secretary Sajid Javid after revealing Whitehall funding had reduced by some £60m over the past four years.
The leader pledged to begin lobbying the Government minister for more money as the current funding formula sees smaller councils like East Sussex receive £159 more per person.
In a letter to all seven of the county’s MPs and Mr Javid, Cllr Smith wrote: “With the current uncertainty and inequity in our funding, I will soon run out of time and resources to protect essential public services unless we see fairer funding.
“We are already looking at where further money can be saved, but this will have a significant impact on frontline services unless we can secure a fairer funding deal.”
Yesterday the Northants Telegraph made attempts to contact all seven of the county’s MPs to see whether they supported the bid after Labour councillors criticised the all-Tory cohort of Northamptonshire MPs for not brokering more funds for their county.
Cllr Eileen Hales told the cabinet meeting on Wednesday: “It really annoys me that those MPs couldn’t get off their backside and work with us to get more money.”
Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer, a former county council leader himself, has now backed Cllr Smith’s campaign for fairer funding.
Yesterday he was joined by Kettering MP Philip Hollobone, Corby MP Tom Pursglove and Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris.
We are yet to receive a response from Northampton North MP Michael Ellis, Wellingborough MP Peter Bone and Northamptonshire South MP Andrea Leadsome.
Mr Heaton-Harris said he would raise the matter with Sajid Javid during their next meeting.
He said: “Northamptonshire has always been underfunded and there are all sorts of reasons for that.
“The Government is working on out-of-date statistics, especially when you have a county growing as quickly as ours. Back in the Labour days, Tory shires got a bad deal too.”
Mr Hollobone said he broadly supported Cllr Smith’s calls, but added that the county’s eight council leaders needed to agree on a way of forming unitary authorities as a way of saving money.
It is estimated £20m could be saved from the public purse each year in Northamptonshire by reducing the eight councils to just one.
Mr Hollobone said: “Our local government leaders need to get together to thrash this out.
“Doing nothing means will see the county council head deeper into financial crisis.”
Mr Pursglove said he had already taken action after receiving Cllr Smith’s letter.
He said: “I can confirm that I have raised the concerns of Northamptonshire County Council directly with the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government.”