A year of disruption and change at NCC

Feeling confused about how this came to pass, and what lies ahead? Here is a timeline of the events and decisions that have been rolled out over the last year.

September 2017 The council leader Heather Smith asked the government for an extra £115m for social services, blaming the government’s funding formula for not factoring in fast-growing populations. She said the increasing population was affecting local services’ abilities to cater to everyone.

November 2017 Council workers are asked to take a day’s unpaid leave in an attempt by the council to save over £2m. The money saved on December 27th, however, made up only about two percent of the total required to save the NCC from bankruptcy.

January 2018 Secretary of State for local government Sajid Javid ordered Inspector Max Caller to investigate the council’s financial status after concerns over its performance.

February 2018 Council imposed emergency notice section 114 for the first time in 20 years, one month after Inspector Caller was hired to look at the council’s way to manage money. It banned all new spending for the upcoming year.

March 2018 Inspector Caller finishes his investigation and reveals his recommendation that the council to be split into two unitary authorities by 2020. Shortly after, Chief Executive Damon Lawrenson left his post.

May 2018 Two commissioners were appointed by the government to work at the Northamptonshire County Council and oversee financial management and their governance of the area. The two commissioners, led by former chief executive of Lincolnshire County Council Tony McArdie, are to be in place until the end of March 2021 and will issue a report to the Secretary of State every three months detailing the council’s progress.

July 2018 A second 114 notice was issued by Chief Finance Officer Mark McLaughlin, due to financial pressures and the ‘completely insupportable’ approach to financial management. Because of this, the council is likely to deliver only main statutory services for the “foreseeable future”. The notice added that the council has “no financial resilience”.

August 2018 NCC councillors vote to scrap current management of the Northampton area. In a vote of 31 for to 14 against, the decision showed the majority of the council was prepared to accept the new change, and were willing to adapt. The Secretary of State is to decide whether the council will go ahead with the restructuring into the two unitaries by November 2018.

Nov 2018 Secretary of State James Brokenshire launches eight week consultation on local government restructuring.

April 2019 Shadow authorities created to form ‘residual body’. Local district and parish elections to be cancelled to save costs.

1 April 2020 New unitaries established.

May 2020 Elections for representation on new unitaries.

Giovanni Bernardi
December 2018