Northamptonshire County Council: New chief 'understands' public anger

Theresa Grant Image copyright GMCA
Image caption Theresa Grant took charge of crisis-hit Northamptonshire County Council in July

The chief executive of a council dubbed "the worst-run in the country" after it ran out of money has said she understands why people are angry.

Theresa Grant, who took charge of Northamptonshire County Council at the end of July, also said the authority had suffered from "poor leadership".

But she warned there may be further service cuts to "balance the books".

It comes after a plan to make £65m of savings by March was adopted by the council's cabinet.

Ms Grant said she understood why the public and staff were angry at the council.

"I actually understand what people and staff feel, and there are an awful lot of people in the organisation that feel let down," she said.

"I think they have suffered from poor leadership historically."

Image caption County Hall in Northampton town centre is a listed building, and the council has considered selling it

Ms Grant said she knew it would be "very difficult" to make the savings by March, but told the public to "have heart".

While plans to close 21 libraries had been put on hold she could not guarantee none of them would shut.

"We have to balance the books, that is going to mean some hard decisions and some services will be reduced," she said.

The Conservative-led authority is expected to be replaced with a new, unitary council in 2020 and will continue to be overseen by two government commissioners.

Ms Grant's appointment followed the resignation of interim chief executive Andrew Quincey, who took up his post in April after previous interim Damon Lawrenson stood down.

Northamptonshire County Council was forced to ban all new spending in February because of "severe financial challenges" and Kettering MP Philip Hollobone said it had become "the worst run in the country".

In March, leader Heather Smith resigned after a government report recommended the council be scrapped.

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