Northampton

Consultation over Northamptonshire council plans to cut £9.6m

Image caption Northamptonshire County Council leader Heather Smith has called for an "urgent review" of the government's funding formula

Cuts to subsidised bus fares and Northamptonshire library and children's services are going to consultation as part of plans to save £9.6m.

The county council's cabinet committee is also asking people's views on 16 job cuts in trading standards.

The Conservative-controlled council has argued it is not receiving its fair share of funding from the government.

Union Unison said the cuts would hit "vulnerable people". The council said statutory services would be delivered.

Following a public consultation, the council will make a final decision on these cuts in February.

Irthlingborough councillor Sylvia Hughes told the meeting that one option would be for community groups or businesses to take over smaller libraries.

Robin Brown, cabinet member for finance, said: "It is very easy to be negative about changes. I believe my cabinet colleagues have been very clear we must make sure our statutory services are delivered in the best possible way."


Analysis

By Craig Lewis, BBC Northampton political reporter

The county council has been under increasing financial pressure and last month called on the government for more money through fairer funding.

If it doesn't get that, the authority will have to make half a billion pounds worth of cuts by 2021.

These proposals, which would see cuts to bus subsidies, libraries and children's services among a raft of smaller proposals, signal the latest step in that direction.

The £9.6m worth of savings passed to consultation will be followed by further plans to cut another £27m due to be announced in December.

A final decision on the budget will be made next February.

Those at One Angel Square will be hoping their overtures to Conservative colleagues in Westminster have brought some success by then.


Lorna Smith, from Unison, said the proposed plan to cut 16 members of staff from trading standards would mean "trouble getting services out to the most vulnerable people".

Labour councillor Mick Scrimshaw said the council is "at the last chance saloon" and the proposals "reek of desperation".

Lib Dem councillor Dennis Meredith said the proposals will cause "misery and despair".

Image caption Heather Smith said the council received "significantly less" in government funds than other authorities

In September this year the leader of the council Heather Smith called on the government for more funding, saying the authority "can't carry on" with present grants.

The council said it had one of the fastest growing populations in England and demand for services was growing at an unprecedented rate.

At the time, the Department for Communities and Local Government said it was working to reform local government finance.

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