'Painful' decisions will be taken after tonight's crucial Northamptonshire County Council meeting

Leader of Northamptonshire County Council, Councillor Matt Golby, has warned 'painful' decisions will be taken during tonight's council meeting.
Leader of Northamptonshire County Council, Councillor Matt Golby, has warned 'painful' decisions will be taken during tonight's council meeting.

The leader of Northamptonshire County Council said there will need to be some "painful, but necessary" decisions as the council seeks to plug a £70 million gap.

Last week the council issued a second section 114 notice barring non-statutory spend amid a warning the authority would need to find up to £70 million of savings in the current financial year if it is to balance its books.

Tonight the authority will hold an extraordinary meeting at County hall to "realign" the services offered by the county council.

A statement from the council this morning states there is now a "clear plan on how it will approach the process of realigning its budget" to ensure it can live within its means.

This evening, the chamber will debate what its spending priorities should be and how it reduces its spend on third-party contracts, although no final decisions will be taken.

A discussion paper set to go before tonight's meeting states: "With so much already taken out of our budget and more still to save, the county council now needs to articulate, in the form of a core offer, the realistic level of service we are likely to provide."

Leader of the council, Councillor Matt Golby said: “In many ways we are now at the starting point of the very long journey of realigning our budget.

"Last week’s Section 114 notice is the first time where there is complete clarity shared by us, the government and the external expertise at CIPFA of the scale of the challenge we face.

"This was critical if we were to ever have a chance of rising to this challenge.

“A dedicated team will be established within the council to lead on this work. The new priorities being discussed and agreed by councillors over these next two weeks – first tonight and then at Cabinet on August 14 - will be used to assess all spend across council services and identify where savings can be made.

“Of course 70 per cent of the council’s spend is through contracts with third party suppliers and a large piece of this work will be to review all of these contracts against the new priorities on a contract by contract basis.

“We will be open and fully transparent with the results of this work which will include painful but necessary decisions.”

There are three key meetings in the next month which will determine the future direction of the council and its budget recovery programme:
o Tonight Full Council will discuss a paper around what the council’s spending priorities should be.
o On August 9 another meeting of Full Council will be held to discuss and approve the council’s response to the issuing of the Section 114 notice.
o On August 14 Cabinet will formally agree to the council’s priorities.