Friday 11th May, 2018
Two government-appointed commissioners have been sent in to run the financially troubled council. Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said Tony McArdle and Brian Roberts would be in place at Northamptonshire County Council until 2021. It comes after spending controls were imposed in February, but the council has since managed to balance its books. The BBC reports that earlier this year a government report found serious failings at the council and said it should be scrapped. When the report was issued the authority had a projected £21.1m overspend for 2017-18. It prompted Mr Brokenshire's predecessor Sajid Javid to say he was "minded" to send in the commissioner.
In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Brokenshire said he could not "ignore the scale of the problems facing Northamptonshire". Mr McArdle is the former chief executive of Lincolnshire County Council and Mr Roberts was previously deputy chief executive of Leicestershire County Council and an expert in financial management. "It is essential residents are able to have faith in their council," Mr Brokenshire said. "Particularly in the responsible use of taxpayers' money. That's why I'm taking swift action by appointing commissioners who carry with them a wealth of experience. I am confident they will dedicate themselves to the task at hand."
It was announced on Monday that the council had balanced its books, following a self-imposed a spending ban. The authority had planned to balance its books through the sale of its new One Angel Square headquarters, which cost £53m and only opened in October last year. That sale was postponed and the council instead decided to use its reserves, however it has since been agreed the building will be sold to Canada Life Investments for £64m. It had been anticipated almost all of the council's £17m of usable reserves and balances would have to be used, but further savings mean the amount needed to deliver a balanced budget has fallen to £12.7m