Merged Northamptonshire councils doomed to fail, Labour warns

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
All council services in Northamptonshire are expected to be run by just two authorities from 2020

Two councils set to replace the eight existing ones in Northamptonshire are "doomed to fail" without more money, Labour has warned.

Shadow local government secretary Andrew Gwynne said: "The Tories have withdrawn the funding from local government and it cannot continue".

Northamptonshire County Council has to cut up to £70m by March.

A government spokesman said: "Our funding settlement gave a real terms increase in resources in 2018-19."

Seven of Northamptonshire's eight councils backed a plan last month to scrap themselves to make way for two unitary authorities from 2020.

A government inspector recommended the move in light of Northamptonshire County Council's financial crisis and the proposal is expected to be approved by ministers.

Two government-appointed commissioners were sent in to oversee the county council in May.

Image caption,
Protesters gathered outside Northamptonshire County Council as plans to cut £70m were approved

Mr Gwynne was visiting Northampton where an independent improvement board set up to oversee the authority was meeting for the first time.

He said: "Rather than tax cuts for the rich and cutting the bank levy, we would use that money for key public services, including an extra £8bn for adult social care.

"Cuts have consequence as we can see right here in places like Northamptonshire.

"We need to make sure the new unitary councils that replace the old councils have a fresh start because if they're hindered by the mistakes of the past then they are set to fail from day one."

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: "I understand the concerns being raised by the people of Northamptonshire.

"That's why I took swift action to appoint expert commissioners to immediately address financial mismanagement at the council.

"At the same time I invited proposals for new unitary councils for the longer term."

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