Northamptonshire unitary decision doesn't solve country's 'deep-seated' problems created by lack of Government funding, says shadow local government secretary

The shadow secretary for local government says the decision taken today by Northamptonshire's county councillors to move to a unitary model will not fix "deep-seated problems" facing the authority and others in the country.

In the past few hours Northamptonshire County Council members have voted in favour of ending the authority's existence by creating two unitary councils in the county with 31 members voting for, 14 against, five abstaining and seven absentees.

Andrew Gwynne MP

Andrew Gwynne MP

But Labour's Andrew Gwynne believes the new councils are "doomed to fail" if the Government does not help them financially.

"These proposals for new councils are simply a sticking plaster," said the MP for Denton and Reddish.

"Any new unitary councils established without Government assistance will be doomed to fail from the start.

"Changing lines on a map will not resolve the deep-seated problems facing local government across the country.

"The existing councils are being asked to foot the bill for the costs of this restructuring, spending millions on this change at the same time as cutting front-line public services.

"The people of Northamptonshire are being punished for the Tories’ failed programme of austerity.

"Ministers have refused to provide additional resources to councils that have seen their budgets stretched to breaking point.

"We urgently need sustainable funding for our local services - our councils cannot be allowed to collapse."

In the wake of today's vote, Unison is calling on Northamptonshire council leaders to put the best interests of staff and the community at the top of their agenda during the "tumultuous" changes affecting the county.

Unison's Northamptonshire branch secretary Penny Smith said: "Staff have suffered nothing but uncertainty and anxiety since the financial collapse of the council, and the inevitable tumultuous changes that followed.

"Plans to split the council mean employees are understandably fearing for their jobs and wages.

"A cut in staffing would mean a reduction in services available to the community, and that includes council employees living and working in the area too.

"The changes in Northamptonshire need to be responsibly managed and properly funded so the council can still fulfil its duty towards staff and the people across the county who rely on services."