More cuts mean jobs on the line at council

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UP TO 200 jobs could go, with cuts to libraries, meals on wheels and other services as Northamptonshire County Council tries to save nearly £32 million.

In the face of Government spending cuts, the council announced its latest money-saving plans last week.

Proposals would see a total of £31.6 million cut from council spending but council tax rates would be frozen.

Leader of the authority, Cllr Jim Harker, said: “It’s no fun having to do this. It’s not what I came into local government for all those years ago and not what I hoped to do when we took control of the council in 2005. You come into government to do things rather than not do things.”

Proposals in the budget would see £335,000 withdrawn from library services in the coming year with a total of £595,000 taken out of the service by 2016.

The reduction is part of the ‘transformation’ of the library service, which has seen more volunteers brought in to help run libraries and Cllr Harker has pledged no libraries will close this year.

Other savings would see £150,000 removed from the meals on wheels service by making it work in a ‘more efficient and effective way’.

Moves will also be made to work with other councils on a regional basis in areas such as highways maintenance, the fire service and trading standards.

Cllr Chris Long represents Davenry West on the county council and chairs the finance scrutiny committee. He said: “It is the committee’s job to look at the budget and see if there are any areas that have insufficient information or that might be a cause for concern.

“We can then interview officers and then work out if there is enough supporting information for their proposals. If there’s not enough information to back up a projected spend then that’s not a viable budget.

“There are areas we will probably be looking at, the meals on wheels could be one of them if the committee decides there’s a lack of information on how they are going to achieve these savings.”

The proposed budget is now open to comments from the public. You can make your comments before February 5.

More details of the plans are available at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/budget2013-14.