Northamptonshire County Council not ruling out pension fund hold back

Finance portfolio holder Cllr Malcolm Longley told fellow councillors to 'watch this space'.
Finance portfolio holder Cllr Malcolm Longley told fellow councillors to 'watch this space'.

“Nothing is off the table” when it comes to whether money intended for the Northamptonshire County Council pension pot will be used to bolster the council’s fragile finances.

That was the message from finance portfolio holder Malcolm Longley at the authority’s cabinet meeting yesterday (Jul 8) as he told councillors in the room to watch this space.

The fiscally strapped authority came under criticism earlier this spring when it had tried to hold back £2m of the £6.7m annual contributions that were meant for the pension pot in an effort to get its 2017/18 finances over the line.

However, councillors on the pensions committee did not back the plan and long-standing chairman Cllr Graham Lawman was promptly removed from his position by Conservative leader Cllr Matt Golby.

He has since been replaced by Cllr Jonathan Ekins and now it appears a similar proposal could be heading to the committee again. The next meeting will be held on July 26.

The committee will have to approve any decision to hold back part of the contribution. It is understood that at the last meeting a number of councillors abstained from a decision.

Labour’s Cllr Julie Brookfield said after the previous attempt that she was ‘deeply concerned by my county council even considering raiding the pension fund’.

The council’s finances for the year ahead are still unstable and the authority is at this stage of the year projecting an overspend of almost £6m.