Lib Dems propose to cut district councils

Daventry District Council offices.
Daventry District Council offices.

Daventry District Council (DDC) would be abolished under radical proposals outlined by the Northamptonshire Liberal Democrats.

The proposals would see the eight local councils in the county replaced by three unitary authorities, as the party called for an in depth independent investigation into the benefits of making the switch in a bid to save taxpayers’ money.

The new structure would see Northampton Borough Council expanded to take in a wider area with two new authorities, Northamptonshire North and South, created. The southern council would account for Daventry and Wellingborough while the northern side would look after Kettering and Corby.

Leader of the Lib Dems at the county council, Cllr Brendan Glynane, said there is the potential for ‘enormous savings’ to be met if the current system is scrapped.

He said: “In Northamptonshire we have 323 council seats.

“Many of them are already doubled up – with huge numbers of county councillors also sitting on their local borough or district council. We currently hold elections for eight councils when we could hold three. We have eight chief executives, legal officers, chief financial officers each with significant salaries.”

“People want low tax and decent services. And for that to happen we need sleek, efficient councils that put people in a position of genuine power over their local services.”

The most recent data suggests tax-payers spend more than £4m a year electing and supporting councillors. A spokesman for the Lib Dem group also added there would need to be 45 councillors on each authority and added that the expenses system could be scrapped under a new system, as councillors would effectively live nearer to their meeting chambers.

The current system sees county councillors paid expenses to attend meetings in Northampton in addition to their yearly allowance.

The Lib Dems say unitary authorities would offer money-saving benefits in terms of delivering many services from a single point.

DDC leader Cllr Chris Millar said: “As the Conservative party, reorganisation is something that we are not discussing at this current time. We think change will evolve naturally.”

Northamptonshire County Council is planning to outsource more than 95 per cent of its 4,000-strong workforce in a bid to carve £148 million out of its budget within the next five years. The authority outlined huge cuts to its budget on Tuesday – with its government funding likely to reduce by £81 million in the next five years and the cost of providing services to rise by £99 million. It announced the plan to meet the financial challenges, which will see the authority effectively outsourcing services such as social care and children’s services to private social enterprises free to compete with others for council services. Council leader Cllr Jim Harker said: “The traditional model for local service delivery is unsustainable. Paying for local services through the Government grant no longer stacks up.”

Under the plans the council workforce would fall from 4,000 to a core staff of 150 in what is dubbed a ‘next generation’ model.