Conservatives reject call for county council to ask for more government funding

The motion was discussed at County Hall this morning
The motion was discussed at County Hall this morning

Conservative councillors have rejected a motion which would have seen the county council call for more funding from central government if approved.

The motion was raised at full council this morning (November 22), with Labour leader Bob Scott calling for chief executive Theresa Grant to write to the government and restore council funding levels over the next four years back to the amount it was in 2010.

The motion states: “We call on Government to reverse next year’s planned £1.3bn cut to council budgets; and to invest this financial year a further £1.35bn in children’s services and a further £1.55bn in adult social care.”

But the motion was voted down by the ruling Conservative party. Leader Matt Golby said: “We need to look at why austerity happened in the first place.

“We have to live within our means and be in control of our spending, and we need to spend the money we have got carefully. It’s not just about asking for more money, because that has got us nowhere in the past.”

Fellow Conservative councillor Rob Gough said: “This would be us going cap in hand to the Government saying we are not going to deal with the issues we have. And where’s the money going to come from? More borrowing probably.”

Paul Crofts, a member of the public who is part of the Save Northants Services group, told councillors to support the motion because the ‘people of Northamptonshire need a break’.

He said: “This would be a concrete example of giving the people that break, because they have suffered. We need some support from central government.”

Labour councillor Mick Scrimshaw is also head of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, and said the current financial situation at the authority was due to locally made decisions, but also because of government cuts.

He added: “This council has made national headlines due to its financial position. We should speak out for all councils to act as a warning that what has happened here will happen elsewhere if nothing changes.”

But Councillor Andy Mercer, a cabinet member of the council, retorted: “In 2010 the government was overspending. This is the politics of the insane. You can’t get back to that kind of nonsense, it’s not sustainable or sensible.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Stanbra said of the Conservative’s decision to defeat the motion: “The Tory councillors clearly don’t feel that the government has underfunded us then. Therefore they accept that the financial situation is the fault of them and them themselves.”