Northampton

Northamptonshire County Council: Call for 'swift appointment' of commissioners

Northamptonshire County Council's new headquarters
Image caption Next year's council budget will see £39.2m of cuts made, including the closure of 21 small libraries

A "failed" Conservative council has written to the government saying if it is going to send in commissioners, it should be "swift" to "allay further uncertainty" for staff.

Last month, Secretary of State for Local Government Sajid Javid said government officials should be sent into Northamptonshire County Council.

It came after an independent report said the authority should be scrapped.

In the letter, the council said it is "highly focused" on budget delivery.

The missive, written to Mr Javid and leaked to the BBC, also said the authority was keen to "renew our relationship" with the government, Northamptonshire's seven Conservative MPs and district and borough council colleagues.

Image caption The letter was signed by council leader Matthew Golby (pictured) and interim chief executive Andrew Quincey

The secretary of state previously told the House of Commons he was minded to send commissioners into the council.

He was reacting to a report by independent inspector Max Caller, commissioned by the government, which said the authority had "failed in its duty" to provide services.

It also recommended the creation of two new unitary authorities to replace the existing two-tier county and district council system.

'Spending ban'

In its letter responding to Mr Javid, the council said it acknowledged "the importance of the task in front is us" and will work to "ensure that the new model of local government is fit for purpose".

The cash-strapped authority was previously forced to ban all new spending in an attempt to balance its books for 2017-18.

This was only eventually achieved by using all of its financial reserves to make up a £16.7m shortfall.

It has already agreed to make almost £40m of cuts for next year's budget.

Mr Javid previously suggested the commissioners would be sent into Northamptonshire by the end of April.

A letter to the minister, signed by the seven district and borough councils, will say his "proposal to send commissioners into Northamptonshire County Council is the necessary next step for the authority and the people it serves".

"We look forward to working with the commissioners to create a sustainable future for public services," the letter will say.

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