Daventry District Council ‘mistake’ over call for government to intervene in county council’s affairs

DDC's offices

DDC's offices

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Daventry District Council has rowed back on calling for the government to intervene in the county council’s affairs, saying the details had been released ‘by mistake’.

The call for the Government to step into the affairs of Northamptonshire County Council due to its financial position was included in a report sent out to the press and public via its website ahead of a meeting on Thursday night.

County Hall

County Hall

Such committee papers are usually distributed seven days before the meeting. In this case they were sent out on January 4.

Today, Wednesday January 11, DDC contacted people saying the report put online was an early draft that they say had been released by mistake. The items sent directly to councillors contains no call for the government to intervene.

The district claims the county council is failing to balance its budget and will run out of money in just a few years, forcing it into a ‘technical insolvency’ and that the county council is at ‘substantial risk’ of not meeting its financial obligations.

The document went on to state: “It is therefore suggested that the Secretary of State be asked to consider if he needs to intervene now, on the basis that the risk of NCC’s financial failure is too high and needs to be avoided.

“It is recognised that this is an unusual and indeed undesirable step for one local government to take in relation to another, but it is suggested that the current circumstances are sufficiently unusual to justify it.”

The county council denied the claims about its budget, saying it has and will continue to balance its books.

After the news broke about DDC asking the Government to step in, the county council contacted this newspaper to dispute the DDC’s claims on which its recommendation was based. And a day later the district council announced it had sent out the wrong paperwork.

As part of its cost-saving measures, the county council has said it will be exploring a unitary authority for the whole county. A unitary authority would combine the powers and responsibilities of districts and boroughs, and the county council.

Cllr Robin Brown, county council cabinet member for finance, said: “Daventry District Council’s suggestion that the county council is at risk of insolvency is simply untrue and no doubt driven by our intention to explore a unitary authority for Northamptonshire, which would replace all current councils and which we can only assume Daventry sees as a threat.

“We have always and will continue to deliver a balanced budget and the suggestion that we do not have credible plans to deliver the required savings is misinformed and disingenuous at best.

“Northamptonshire County Council’s finances are sustainable and will soon be able to grow into a position of strength over the medium term.”