The news that Northamptonshire County Council is offering 3,000 people the chance to take redundancy is not unexpected, but nevertheless is still extremely distressing for all the authority’s loyal and hard-working employees.
But what is also somewhat perplexing, and from out of nowhere, and assuming that the average redundancy package will be around £20,000 per person, is the fact that the county council seem to have stumbled across the not insubstantial sum of £60m to pay for it.
Yes, it will no doubt be money that they can recoup as a result of merging into one or two authorities over time.
But to find £60m at the drop of a hat in the current financial climate needs some explaining in my opinion?
So where did or will the money come from?
Is it more borrowing to go on top of the estimated £1bn of debt that the county council have already managed to rack up over the years?
Will there be another inflation busting increase to next year’s Council Tax?
Or, will it be a windfall from Whitehall?
Just like the odour that is currently polluting the atmosphere emanating from the piles of rotting rubbish that are building up all over the streets of Northampton, there is definitely something extremely fishy going on inside Northamptonshire County Council.
In essence, what I am trying to say is that the county council or Whitehall can find £60m for the council’s restructuring costs, but when it comes to providing safe and adequate funding for our public services, they both plead abject poverty.
What would £60m do for the social care for the elderly in Northamptonshire, the cuts to the winter gritting programme, libraries or the subsidies for the rural bus network that have been withdrawn in order for the county council to save money?
As I said earlier, it stinks.