'Modest' schemes win extra funding from cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council

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Two schemes have been given extra funding by cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council, but it will soon start running a ‘fine-tooth comb’ over its capital spending.

The council’s Conservative cabinet met yesterday afternoon (August 14) at One Angel Square, and agreed to invest small sums of capital funds on a scheme to promote road safety in the county during the construction of HS2 rail, and for internal improvement works to be carried out to The Guilsborough Academy. The funds come from ring-fenced pots of money allocated for those specific purposes.

The sum of £82,500 will be drawn down from a Department for Transport grant of £1.65m for a ‘feasibility’ study on a string of road safety schemes while the high speed rail line is constructed in the coming years.

And Guilsborough Academy, which has been extended several times over the years to allow more pupils to attend, is in need of some crucial internal improvement works to meet even further demand.

Cabinet member for finance Councillor Michael Clarke said: “These are two fairly modest schemes. One is part of a Department for Transport grant to the county council which is allocated to promote road safety in Northamptonshire as HS2 construction commences over the next few years.

“The second is a modest £36,722 for Guilsborough Academy which will expand and improve one of the classrooms to ensure they can accommodate more pupils.”

The funding for the academy improvements comes from Section 106 funds from developers allocated for such works.

The council’s auditors KPMG are looking into how Section 106 money was used in the last financial year, and whether it was correctly used for its intended purposes.

That culture of spending money where it should not be spent is one that the cabinet is trying to banish, especially following the issuing of a second Section 114 notice last month banning new expenditure.

The council also need to consider that the upcoming programme of capital projects is likely to soon be under the wing of a new council, as a move to becoming a unitary authority comes ever closer.

Councillor Clarke added: “The council is pursuing a more cautious view on capital expenditure, which is evident by recent events. But there are a few new schemes being brought forward which are long and medium term projects. When we eventually morph into a unitary it will be reassuring to these councillors who are aware of carefully planned and costed schemes.”