First meeting of improvement board to keep an eye on Northants County Council

One Angel Square in Northampton

An improvement board set up to keep a close eye on Northamptonshire County Council has announced that it’s ‘overriding aim is to work with the council in the public interest’.

Following the financial collapse of the authority this Spring, the improvement board was created and brought together councillors, officers and local government officers from the county to offer expertise on how to upgrade its performance.

It met for the first time last week (September 6) and chairman Stephen Freer has issued a statement saying: “The board hopes to work productively with the council’s members, senior staff, commissioners and partners to ensure that key deficiencies are being tackled by robust implementation of carefully tailored improvement plans.

“Very helpfully, representatives of partner organisations indicated their readiness to engage and co-operate with the county council with a view to delivering the best possible outcomes for residents.”

At the meeting government appointed commissioners Brian Roberts and Tony McArdle gave a presentation and outlined the severe financial challenge facing the authority.

NCC did not balance its books last financial year and has a deficit of £35m from 2017/18 which added to the current overspends means that service savings of about £60m are needed by this coming April.

The service cuts plan will be announced later this month and it will be the task of new chief executive Theresa Grant to carry it out.

Mr Freer said the improvement board would be looking over the plans in close detail.

He said: “The board expects to scrutinise the council’s developing stabilisation and improvement plans and to monitor their implementation and outcomes at future meetings.”

The second meeting of the board is to be made public shortly.

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