Northamptonshire council: Others also 'right down to the bone'

By Sam Read
BBC Radio Northampton

Image source, PA, UK Parliament and BBC
Image caption, All seven of Northamptonshire's MPs have previously called for commissioners to be brought into Northamptonshire County Council

Councils across England are "right down to the bone" and could follow Northamptonshire into a financial crisis, according to a leading local government figure.

Paul Carter, of the County Councils Network, told BBC Sunday Politics East "the elastic will eventually break".

"It's broken in Northamptonshire and there are other authorities that now are right down to the bone," he said.

His comments follow a scathing review of the financially stricken council.

The report into Northamptonshire County Council was ordered by the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid in January, after he was made aware of allegations of financial mismanagement.

The authority was later forced to ban all new spending apart from social care to balance its budget for this year.

'Fundamental review'

The review's main recommendation was the creation of two new unitary authorities to replace the current county council.

Councillor Matt Golby, new acting leader of Northamptonshire County Council, accepted unitary authorities were the way to go but said they were not the complete answer.

"Just by cutting [the county] in two is not necessarily going to solve all the problems. Adult social care is a national issue and that needs a fundamental review," Mr Golby said.

Under a unitary system, seven borough and district councils would be abolished, alongside the county council.

'Key players'

Gareth Eales, Labour county councillor and Northampton South parliamentary candidate, called for more dialogue about any new system.

"No one has spoken to the key players in this, which are the district and borough councils", he said.

Meanwhile the leader of Northampton Borough Council, Jonathan Nunn said: "Something has to change...we've been talking about cash for too long.

"We should be talking more about services, any solution needs to be resident focussed."

Northamptonshire's seven Tory MPs said recommendations in the government report should be completed quickly.

Image caption, Next year's county council budget will see £39.2m of cuts made, including the closure of 21 small libraries

"There is a clear split in Northamptonshire between north Northamptonshire and west Northamptonshire and I think it will work better that way," Wellingborough MP Peter Bone said.

Max Caller, who led the government investigation, said Northamptonshire should have two new unitary authorities by 2020.

Former county leader Heather Smith, resigned after the publication of the report on Thursday.

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