Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Liberal Democrats call on the leadership of Northamptonshire County Council to resign

For the second time in a year, a section 114 notice has been issued by the chief financial officer of Northamptonshire County Council. It is a Conservatice-run authority led by Cllr Matt Golby.

As I explained when the first notice was issued in February, this is a measure the officer takes if a council has, or is likely to have, an unbalanced budget.

Commenting today the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, Chris Stanbra said:
"Matt Golby now needs to consider his position, as do cabinet members Cllr Michael Clarke and Cllr Ian Morris. Cllr Golby was deputy leader before and has been in the cabinet for many years. Cllr Clarke and Cllr Morris were also in the cabinet and so would have been involved in making these decisions. 
“They need to seriously think about whether they should step down in light of the current situation the council is in. If they don’t, they need to be ready to explain why it is that they should stay, as they bear a responsibility in this."
The Labour chair of the council's scrutiny committee said much the same:
"Clearly Matt Golby was a leading part of the cabinet and knew what was going on. 
"Those responsible now need to be held accountable. In the opposition we knew there were huge financial problems but we did not know a lot of the detail as it was hidden from us."
According to another Northamptonshire Telegraph report, Mr Golby
said he was disappointed that opposition politicians had called for him to step down.
But he added magnanimously:
"I am OK with taking responsibility for my involvement in the past."
Every local authority is under dreadful financial pressure, but the problems in Northants are an order of magnitude greater than any that have been revealed elsewhere.

Why is this? Let me try a theory on you.

Northamptonshire is the heart of Conservative Brexit country. Just think of the MPs the party selects: Angela Leadsom, Chris Heaton Harris, Peter Bone, Philip Hollobone, Tom Pursglove...

I think it fair to say they are more remarkable for their ideology than their intellect.

Local Conservative branches used to be filled with people who know how many beans make five. I suspect that in Northamptonshire at least, they have been replaced by ideologues who would could not read a spreadsheet to save their lives.

And those are the people from whom Northamptonshire Conservatives choose their council candidates. Those are the people who get to make that choice.

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