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Summary

  1. Live debate with the four main parties looking to gain power in the county council elections
  2. Northamptonshire goes to the polls on Thursday
  3. Debate being aired live on BBC Radio Northampton on Tuesday, 2 May 2017
  4. The party representatives taking part are:
  5. Mick Scrimshaw (Labour)
  6. Heather Smith (Conservatives)
  7. Jonathan Bullock (UKIP)
  8. Brendan Glynane (Lib Dem)

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

The debate is over

That's it for our live coverage of the county council election debate. Thanks for joining us.

You've been hearing views from the main parties taking part in Thursday's election. The Green Party and three independent candidates are also campaigning for your votes.

You can catch up with the main points from the debate below, but now we'll now continue with our rolling news for Northamptonshire.

Northamptonshire votes: How will you improve adult social care?

"These are people's grandparents and parents. We need to pay money properly to these care homes," says Lib Dem Brendan Glynane.

"Year after year we've seen care home owners say 'you need to pay us more so we can take care of that [adult social care]' - and that frees up money. 

"One thing that this council haven't been very good at is a partnership with the NHS, so we have this problem with bed-blocking. There are huge savings to be made that can be made and spread out between the council and the health service."

Northamptonshire votes: How will you improve adult social care?

Jonathan Bullock from UKIP says his plan would be "a proper cost/benefit analysis of things like Olympus Care so it doesn't become a drain on budget and resources".

Olympus Care is a limited company wholly owned by Northamptonshire County Council that supports people with a physical or learning disability, older people and people living with dementia.  

Mr Bullock added: "There's a lack resources there because we've not taken on the national government - we dared not say 'boo' to them - that's why Northamptonshire gets less money. We would take the government on, I can assure you."

Northamptonshire votes: How will you improve adult social care?

Labour's Mick Scrimshaw says there are two issues with adult social care - partnership and funding.

"This council has a particularly bad record of how it deals with partners, such as the borough council and in particular the NHS.

"One of the huge issues locally, and I'm from Kettering where one of the large hospitals is located, is that people are kept in hospital when they could be sent out to their homes. 

"That costs between two and three thousand pounds a day. If social workers were able to treat them in their homes it would be far, far cheaper."

Asked how he would deliver this in light of the council's reduced budget, he added: "We would be far more robust in those discussions."

Northamptonshire votes: How will you improve adult social care?

Asked about her plans for adult social care, Conservative council leader Heather Smith says: "One of the main targets for me is to do far more about dementia care. 

"We have a lot of people in Northamptonshire who suffer with dementia and don't have access to facilities.

"We want a dementia care village where we can have families move in together and as they deteriorate over a period of time they don't need moving again. 

"My objective is to have a centre which is the best in the county for dementia care and then open some other smaller ones around the county."

Northamptonshire votes: 'The county council has failed'

Speaking about the issue of children's services, UKIP's Jonathan Bullock said his party would reverse cuts to the system.

He highlighted a "pattern" of council failings with the Ofsted audit report, as well as the audit report into council finances.

"We need to wake up and smell the coffee - the county council has failed," he said.

Northamptonshire votes: 'Young people need consistency'

Brendan Glynane, the Liberal Democrat candidate, said the quality of Northamptonshire's children's services "couldn't go anywhere else but up" following criticism a few years ago.

"There are savings to be made - we would pay foster carers more, which would lower the amount spent on agency care which is much more expensive," he said.

"We'd also try to attract more high-quality social workers - young people need that consistency - and we would bring back preventative measures to help with looked-after children which have been cut by the council."

Northamptonshire votes: Labour 'not happy' with children's services

Labour's Mick Scrimshaw said he was "not happy" with how the council handled children's services, claiming the authority had spent "tens of millions to make small improvements".

He said Labour was not convinced a trust - as Conservative Heather Smith mentioned - was the "way forward", and would review the plans if the party was successful in Thursday's election.

"We need to put people back at the heart of decision-making - what effect do the services have on people's lives? Start from the bottom up instead of the top down."

Northamptonshire votes: Children's services under the spotlight

BBC Radio Northampton's Stuart Linnell puts the next point to Conservative Heather Smith, asking her if children's services in the county have improved since a critical report in 2013.

"Things have improved significantly," she replied. "It's moving in the right direction. We're still being monitored by the Department for Education and Ofsted, and they're happy.

"We've been given a grant to form an 'arm's length organisation' - a trust which would be able to attract separate income. It will give us more freedom to recognise and reward social workers.

"I feel confident we are doing what is an incredibly difficult job, and children's services are much safer."

Northamptonshire votes: Road repair backlog 'up to £400m'

Labour's Mick Scrimshaw is the last candidate to have their say on the state of the roads.

Mick Scrimshaw
BBC

"The £1m to make improvements is very welcome," he says. "But the backlog of repairs is between three and four hundred million.

"The truth is the budget is always tight for roads because of overspend on things like adult social care and and children's services... if they can't get that [the budget] right, then they need to find money elsewhere. But these things are the things that people do notice and care about."

Northamptonshire votes: Government 'should provide £50m' to sort roads out

"The government needs to provide at least £50m to sort this out," says Jonathan Bullock from UKIP, responding to a question on how he would improve the county's roads.

Jonathan Bullock
BBC

"It's not just for motorists, but for motorcyclists and cyclists it is absolutely awful. 

"The Conservative party have had 12 years to sort this out and they've failed."

Northamptonshire votes: 'They should have been banging on the door'

Brendan Glynane from the Lib Dems says the £1m the council has received to make repairs on the roads is not sufficient.

"This Conservative government is not taking this seriously - Heather should have been much more brave. They should have been banging on the door until they got more."

Brendan Glynane
BBC

Northamptonshire votes: What would you do to sort the roads out?

The next question is about the state of Northamptonshire's roads, with the candidates asked what they will do to make necessary improvements.

"We've had a serious freeze thaw," says Conservative council leader Heather Smith.

Heather Smith
BBC

"The government have given us an additional million to invest in the roads, but you can't repair the roads until late in March, and so the weather has limited what we can do. I'd urge all listeners to report all potholes."  

Northamptonshire votes: Council leader 'proud' of record on budget

In response to the question on council finances, Conservative Heather Smith - leader of Northamptonshire County Council - said she had been left "astounded" by the points made by UKIP's Jonathan Bullock.

"It's a lie - I've been leader for 12 months, we took the decision to keep contact with the EU as we receive funding as the result of having an office there. 

"I can assure every listener not one elected member went there in the last year," she said.

Mrs Smith said the council had come in on budget "every year, including the year gone past".

"I'm very proud of that - we keep a tight rein on our finances, but with decreasing money from central government, things aren't easy," she said.

"If we didn't spend so much on social care, I'd be the first to put more money into highways."

Northamptonshire votes: Council's Brussels office 'stupid'

UKIP's Jonathan Bullock tells the debate the county council's finances are "disastrous". 

"What we'd do is cut back on stupid spending," he said. He claimed the council was spending £802,000 a year on a "vanity" office in Brussels, and county councillors were not working with MEPs and were instead keeping an office in the Belgian city unnecessarily.

Northamptonshire votes: 'Council projects not sustainable'

Answering the same point, Brendan Glynane from the Lib Dems said county council finances were bad and projects it had undertaken were not sustainable.

"The recent audit report into council finances said that," he told BBC Radio Northampton listeners. "The council makes a big play on zero-based budgeting, but that needs to go through all areas of finances.

"Highways need to be looked at - there are too many potholes on our roads."

Northamptonshire votes: How would you run council finances?

The first question has been put to the candidates - how would they manage council finances in a time of increasing demand?

Labour's Mick Scrimshaw said his party would conduct a "root and branch" reform of how finances are run. "The county council needs to be reset - finances are a real mess," he said. 

He said Labour would bring in extra revenue from schemes, and review contracts including PFI.

Northamptonshire votes: Debate gets under way

The four candidates from the major parties are in the studio at BBC Radio Northampton, and the first question has been put to them.

(Left to right) Heather Smith, Mick Scrimshaw, Jonathan Bullock, Brendan Glynane
BBC

Host Stuart Linnell asks: "How will you face dealing with council finances?

More to follow.

Meet the candidates...

Taking part in BBC Radio Northampton's election debate are:

Mick Scrimshaw (Labour)

Mick Scrimshaw
BBC

Heather Smith (Conservatives)

Heather Smith
BBC

Jonathan Bullock (UKIP)

Jonathan Bullock
BBC

Brendan Glynane (Lib Dem)

Brendan Glynane
BBC

Listen live here.  

BBC Northampton election debate: County profile

Nic Rigby

BBC News

The local authority Northamptonshire County Council was originally formed by the Local Government Act 1888 and is based in the county town Northampton (pictured below).

Northampton Town Centre
Nicholas Mutton/Geograph

It includes a wide range of towns including Corby, Kettering, Towcester (pictured below) and Wellingborough, as well as many rural communities.

At the last election in 2013, the Tories won 36 seats giving them a majority on the council - which the party won from Labour in 2005.

Following a boundary review, 57 seats were being contested for the first time, down from 73 in 2009.

Labour won 11 seats, the Lib Dems six and UK Independence Party three and independents one.

In 2009 the council of 73 members was made up of 54 Conservatives, 10 Lib Dems, six Labour members, two independents and one UKIP member.

Towcester from the air
Chris/Geograph

The role of the county council

County councils are hugely important - they make the decisions that affect our everyday life.

The run many of the services that we rely on, whether that's looking after vulnerable people, safeguarding children, libraries - and 70% of the roads are maintained by the council.

Vote graphic
Getty Images

These decisions are not made by MPs in Westminster, but decided by county councils.

It's a difficult job - there are reduced resources along with increasing demand in some services, such as adult social care and children's services.

Grants from central government are repeatedly cut, and the government's intention is to phase out central government funding entirely by 2020. 

So by then, local government will be entirely financed by money it raises locally... primarily business rates and council tax.

The changing role of county councils

Nic Rigby

BBC News

We've told you what county councils do... but how is their role changing?

Over the last few years we've seen a rationalisation of assets, a huge number of redundancies, and savings on all the key services. 

Northamptonshire County Council
BBC

Jonathan Carr-West is the chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit

He says it's not going to get easier to run county councils.

We'll see a shift in how a council functions and what they do... they'll become less about delivering services and more about investing in local areas - driving growth, facilitating the voluntary sector, bringing together other branches of the state at a local level... their role will shift from delivery to facilitation."

Jonathan Carr-WestLocal Government Information Unit

Welcome to the BBC Northampton debate

Good morning and thanks for joining us on the day BBC Radio Northampton holds a live debate with the representative of parties contesting the election  for Northamptonshire County Council.

Signs in Northamptonshire
James Haynes/Geograph

Presented by Stuart Linnell, the panel will include Heather Smith (Conservative), Jonathan Bullock (UKIP), Mick Scrimshaw (Labour) and Brendan Glynane (Lib Dem). The programme will also hear from Green Party representative Steve Miller.

In three days, many of us will be going to the polls to vote for a new county council. Traditionally turn out is low - about half that of a general election.

The debate gets under way at 08:00.