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Northamptonshire County Council: Commissioners take over authority

image copyrightNorthamptonshire County Council
image captionTony McArdle (left) and Brian Roberts will be in place at Northamptonshire County Council until 2021

Two government-appointed commissioners have been sent in to oversee a financially troubled council.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said Tony McArdle and Brian Roberts would be in place at Northamptonshire County Council until 2021.

It comes after spending controls were imposed in February, but the council has since managed to balance its books.

Earlier this year a government report found serious failings at the council and said it should be scrapped.

When the report was issued the authority had a projected £21.1m overspend for 2017-18.

It prompted Mr Brokenshire's predecessor Sajid Javid to say he was "minded" to send in the commissioners.

'Swift action'

In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Brokenshire said he could not "ignore the scale of the problems facing Northamptonshire".

Mr McArdle is the former chief executive of Lincolnshire County Council and Mr Roberts was previously deputy chief executive of Leicestershire County Council and an expert in financial management.

"It is essential residents are able to have faith in their council," Mr Brokenshire said. "Particularly in the responsible use of taxpayers' money.

"That's why I'm taking swift action by appointing commissioners who carry with them a wealth of experience. I am confident they will dedicate themselves to the task at hand."

Bridge repair work compromised by money problems

image copyrightGeograph / Tony Bennett
image captionThe council plans to place a three-tonne weight limit on a damaged bridge that it cannot afford to repair

The council has outlined plans to place a weight restriction on a bridge that it cannot afford to repair.

Northamptonshire County Council said it does not have the £750,000 needed to fix to the 16th Century bridge on Station Road in Oundle, so plans to impose a three-tonne weight limit instead.

The road is Oundle's closest link to the A605 - which provides access to the A14 and A1 - with residents and businesses saying that a diversion would cause problems in the town centre.

"It's not good for the buildings in the town," said Dick Simpson who lives on West Street in the town.

A spokesman for the council said an assessment in October 2014 "concluded that seven of the 13 arches of the Listed Grade II structure were deficient".

They said that the three-tonne limit would "protect this historic monument whilst funding is secured."

image captionThe Station Road bridge is Oundle's closest link to the A605

It was announced on Monday that the council had balanced its books, following a self-imposed a spending ban.

The authority had planned to balance its books through the sale of its new One Angel Square headquarters, which cost £53m and only opened in October last year.

That sale was postponed and the council instead decided to use its reserves, however it has since been agreed the building will be sold to Canada Life Investments for £64m.

It had been anticipated almost all of the council's £17m of usable reserves and balances would have to be used, but further savings mean the amount needed to deliver a balanced budget has fallen to £12.7m

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