Plans to ditch Alive @ Delapre concert in Northampton likely to be rubber-stamped at budget meeting

Funding for Alive @ Delapre is set to be cut as part of the borough council's budget setting tonight.
Funding for Alive @ Delapre is set to be cut as part of the borough council's budget setting tonight.

Plans to axe Alive @ Delapre and cut funding to the Royal and Derngate theatre are due to get the go-ahead in the next few hours as Northampton Borough Council prepares to set this year’s budget.

Tonight the council is due to ratify plans to save around £687,000 in 2016/17, after a 40 percent cut in the grant money it receives from central Government since 2010.

The authority is due to rubber stamp plans to save £400,000 through “internal restructuring and efficiencies” and will cut the subsidy it gives to the Royal and Derngate every year by £50,000.

Despite some opposition to a proposal to stop Alive @ Delapre, the concert which has seen acts such as Jessie J, McBusted, Simple Minds and Boyzone perform in the grounds of the ancient abbey, will also be axed.

The draft budget was first announced on December 15 and over the past two-and-a-half months around 90 people have commented during the consultation phase. Out of those one in three people said they did not agree with the plan to freeze council tax for another successive year.

Tonight the Labour Group on Northampton Borough Council will also announce an alternative budget, which will be put to a vote.

The opposition party proposes to scrap spending on the yearly firework display, after many in the consultation period were against funding it through taxpayers’ money.

One consultee wrote: “Disgusted that you should consider reducing the grant to the Royal & Derngate by £50,000 at the same time as spending £75,000 on fireworks and a Christmas market. You are always keen to stress the town’s cultural quarter, yet reduce the funding of cultural activities.”

Labour’s finance spokeswoman, Councillor Elizabeth Gowen (Lab, Eastfield) said: “Our alternative budget is much more positive than the Tories’ and provides more help to residents and communities.

“We propose to employ neighbourhood co-ordinators, another licencing enforcement officer and a private sector housing officer post. This will help to keep residents safe.

“We also want to make our environment cleaner and greener and so we shall introduce a discretionary payment for pest control for those who can’t afford it.

“We will also conduct a pilot study to better improve waste collection. Instead of having numerous boxes and bins lets have just one recycling bin known as ‘co-mingling’.

“Our budget alternative is fully costed and we have identified how it will be funded. We will increase the basic Council Tax by £5, remove the fireworks display and reduce the Councillor Community Fund from £3000 to £1500.

“Council Tax has been frozen since 2010 which has reduced the income for the Borough Council and this has meant less money to spend on services.

“Labour are brave enough to argue for a Council Tax increase now.”