Northamptonshire County Council - 15 years of Conservative Failure

Northamptonshire County Council

15 Years of Conservative Failure

The Conservatives took control of Northamptonshire County Council from Labour in 2005 promising to ‘clear up the mess’ and instead after 15 years their financial mismanagement has caused the Council to go ‘bankrupt’ twice and for the Government to have to step in and run things.

Things were so bad that the Government Inspectors concluded the Council should be scrapped and that Northamptonshire should be split in two with new (unitary) councils taking over responsibilities from the County Council and District/Borough Councils.

Why did this happen?

The Conservatives set about with a policy of holding down council tax rises which over time resulted in the Council being short of funds as demand for services increased. The policy was deliberately designed to win votes but because the Council was then short of funds it had to use most of its reserves to keep services going as well as rack up massive debts. The result is that in 2021 residents will see above inflation increases in Council Tax to try and address years of underfunding and to pay for debts of around £520 million.

A New Model Council?

The Conservatives also set about trying to create a new type of council where all the council services were effectively dismantled and put out to ‘not for profit’ business units which were in effect private companies or charities. The Conservative ideology was about ‘small Government’ with Councillors acting as managers of services being run by outside organisations. This was a disaster. It resulted in the fragmentation of services with unclear accountability and with costs often higher than other Councils. On top of this there was a series of financial decisions ranging for spending £millions on an office in Brussels through to ‘bungled’ contracts that have cost more to provide some of the basic services.

As a result, residents in West Northamptonshire will be paying for the Conservatives past mistakes for years to come…

  1. A history of debt & financial mismanagement
  • The Conservative legacy is running up debts of £1.7 billion which is the equivalent of £2,400 for every resident in Northamptonshire 1.
  • Conservative past policy of keeping down council tax and breaking up the council into ‘business units’ that failed left the Council penniless.
  • Built new HQ in Northampton and then had to sell it to balance the books and now pay over £2 m a year to rent it back.
  • Ongoing financial problems highlighted and not acted upon.
  • As a result of this Conservative failure Council Tax will be increasing each year above the level of inflation (6% or more for each area) and residents will see no better services.
  • The Conservatives are spending over £10 million shutting down the County Council and setting up the new council. With auditors warning money spent on setting up the new council may not represent value for money.
  • Golden handshakes to staff who have left - £90K to past Chief Executive
  • Hiring Consultants – Head of HR left and then was reemployed as a Consultant on £1,000 a day
  • Using Agency staff – costing £2.5 million above cost of employing directly.

‘With the Conservatives you are paying more for less’

…auditors flag unitary reorganisation spend as value for money risk’

Chronicle & Echo 17/2/20

Failing to protect children

In 2013 three successive OFSTED inspections judged services for children and young people in Northamptonshire to be ‘inadequate’ Successive OFSTED Inspections rate service as failing

Deaths of children in the care of the county council highlight failings.

In less than 5 years under the Conservatives there have been 4 Directors of Children’s Services appointed and yet the latest Ofsted report stated that the service was still ‘failing to keep children safe’. (Also CX and Chair at Children’s Trust within last year)

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Roads and pavements are crumbling and bus services cut

There are signs of neglect and underfunding all around Northamptonshire with roads full of potholes and uneven pavements all down to the cuts made by the Conservatives.

In 2018/19 the Council paid out over £200,000 in compensation claims due to potholes – the third highest in the UK.2

The Conservative Council’s policy of patching up roads rather than re-instating sections, as well as reducing standards for repair, has led to uneven stretches and causing even more potholes.

Conservatives have since agreed to spend £1.4 million on simply putting the roads contract out to tender with none of this money going to improving roads.

Winter gritting routes have been reduces so that only a third of the roads in the area will be treated.

The Conservative have scrapped any funding for bus routes meaning that in the last 3 years over 30 bus routes have been scrapped as the County Council has withdrawn funding support leaving many rural communities without a bus service.3

“Northamptonshire County Council is to axe its entire £1.27m subsidy for bus services…”

Transport Extra 18/03/18

The Timeline Of Failure