'Have we done a good job?' Cold water poured on congratulations for turning around Northamptonshire County Council

'The gains that have been made to stabilise the finances, who has actually paid for that?'
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Councillors were reminded of the hardships over the past three years for Northamptonshire County Council alongside the praise for stabilising its finances at its final meeting yesterday (Thursday, February 18).

Leader Matt Golby was accused of being 'triumphalist' when outlining how the local authority has recovered from declaring itself insolvent in 2018 before being abolished on March 31.

Labour councillor Danielle Stone said she understood why the Conservative leader felt like that but that she was 'full of sadness' looking back on the past three years.

Northamptonshire County Council will cease to exist from April 1Northamptonshire County Council will cease to exist from April 1
Northamptonshire County Council will cease to exist from April 1

She listed several services which had been the victims of cuts, such as libraries, benefits and debt advice and the African Caribbean Elders Centre.

Cllr Stone asked: "The gains that have been made to stabilise the finances, who has actually paid for that?

"If I look through at the world not through your lens, but through my lens, what I see are communities under more stress than I can ever remember in my lifetime, I see more poverty, I see more children in care, I see more exclusions, I see less respite for hard-pressed families.

"In terms of the outcomes of the work we all do, are those satisfactory outcomes? Is it okay to have a children's service after seven and a half years that is still inadequate?

"We're public servants, we're here to make a difference, to make life better, to help our communities look after themselves and where they can't, to look after them. Have we done a good job on all of that?"

The county council's financial crisis in 2018 resulted in itself and the seven other borough and district councils in Northamptonshire being abolished and replaced by two unitary authorities.

West and North Northamptonshire councils are due to come into force on April 1, taking over all local authority services.

While Northamptonshire Children's Trust has been set up as an independent organisation to run the county's children's services in an attempt to improve performance.

Cllr Golby said they had delivered on their promise to the county of turning the council's fortunes around and should be proud while thanking everyone for their hard work.

In reply, councillor Jon McGhee said: "I don't mean to be controversial at our last one but we've got to be honest with ourselves.

"From 2005 right up through we had your leader who was a cabinet member that helped to destroy 133 years of this council and was in charge of children's service that we have now lost from a council because it was so bad it had no real political steer whatsoever so it's not all roses."

Cllr Golby, who was chosen to take over reins when the previous leader stepped down because of the financial collapse, said he would not apologise but accepted it has not been a 'bed a roses'.

The council leader said everyone has done their best to fix the problems and change the organisation's culture

"This has been the hardest thing I have ever done and will ever do so I'm proud we have seen this thing through and I'm happy with where we are," he added.