Northamptonshire County Council has a new deputy leader
Cllr Lizzie Bowen was elected to the position by the council’s Conservative councillors at their annual group meeting on Monday(May 20) night.
The councillor, who represents Nene Valley, will replace Cllr Cecile Irving Swift, who has been deputy to leader Matt Golby for the past year. Cllr Golby will remain as leader and all other cabinet members will remain the same.
It is the second time in the cabinet for Cllr Bowen, who stood down last July from her position as lead member for adult social services. She took the decision after being disqualified by South Northamptonshire Council for non-attendance and said then that she felt let down by the system. She said she had been unable to attend the district council meetings because of the demands of her county council cabinet role.
Speaking today (May22) Cllr Bowen said she had put herself forward for the position against two other councillors but could not comment further as she was on her way to a meeting.
Cllr Golby said he wanted to acknowledge the hard work of Cllr Irving Swift and was pleased to have Cllr Bowen as his deputy.
He said: “We know the year ahead is going to be extremely challenging and we are going to work as hard as we possibly can. I made a significant commitment to both the authority and our partner councils in the districts and boroughs to deal with our financial situation ahead of the move to unitary.”
The council has been in a fragile financial state for the past 18 months. It failed to balance its books in the 2017/18 financial year and those accounts have still not been signed off by the external auditors.
It has balanced its budget this year under the guidance of two government appointed commissioners and a new chief executive and senior team of officers. To help it get its finances out of the red the government gave the council a capital dispensation of £70m – which allowed it to use incomes from asset sales on running costs and allowed it to put its council tax up by five per cent. There have also been cuts to services and the council is now in many areas delivering only the core statutory requirement of services.
This current financial year it is required to make another £40m worth of savings.