"The public understands": Cabinet defends proposed cuts to Northamptonshire's services amidst calls to resign

Leader of the council Heather Smith says the public "understands" the cuts her cabinet are proposing.
Leader of the council Heather Smith says the public "understands" the cuts her cabinet are proposing.

The leader of Northamptonshire County Council Heather Smith has responded to a call for her and her cabinet to resign over a slew of proposed cuts to services by saying "the public understands the position we are in".

A vote of no confidence was raised by the Labour party at a full county council cabinet meeting today (November 23), asking for the current cabinet to step down.

Labour and Lib Dem councillors called on Mrs Smith and her cabinet to "let someone who can properly run this county take over".

It comes after the county council put forward plans in October to cut nearly £10million from public services, which could close up to 28 libraries and make nearly half of Northamptonshire's trading standards team redundant.

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Labour councillor Gareth Eales said: "You have lost the confidence of the Government, the district councils and most, most importantly, the public.

"When you were campaigning for the elections in May, you misled the public. You had no ability to deliver that budget. You didn't say you would be slashing the libraries and trading standards.

"Call an election. We'll see what the public think. You turkeys might not vote for Christmas but your goose is cooked."

Meanwhile, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats in Northamptonshire Brian Meredith said the county council was "on the brink" of having Government inspectors step in and take over.

Mrs Smith responded to the calls by saying the other parties had "no idea" how difficult the proposals were to put out.

She said: "Perhaps the opposition should try listening to the public a bit more.

"A lot of cabinet members have attended public meetings and... the public understands the position we are in and the difficulty we face to produce a balanced budget.

"The number of hours my cabinet members are putting in has made this more than a full-time job. I find it personally insulting that the opposition believes we are not doing our jobs.

"And none of us wanted to send out some of the decisions for public consultation. We believe that by working in the community we can find ways of protecting these services.

"We have no choice but to reduce non-statutory services.

"Many of you here have no idea how difficult it is to produce a balanced budget, but, rest assured, we will."

The no-confidence vote was defeated 36 to 11 against.

Another motion asking for no libraries to be closed in the proposed cuts, dubbed "option 4" will be debated this afternoon (November 23).