Tories survive vote of no confidence at County Hall after opposition backlash over finances

The Conservative administration at County Hall has survived a vote of no confidence, despite opposition members rounding on the controlling party.

Last month, a report by external auditors KPMG levelled stinging criticisms at the council’s ability to manage its finances.

It said the controlling Conservative group had not delivered “planned and sustainable outcomes for taxpayers”, having repeatedly missed budget targets.

This year the council is on a course to overspend after half of its proposed £65 million savings target were found to be at risk.

At yesterday’s full council meeting, the Liberal Democrats proposed a motion of no confidence against the Conservatives saying the party had lost faith in the Tories’ ability to manage the council coffers.

Opening it, Councillor Chris Lofts (Lib Dem, Towcester and Roade) said: “You keep saying it will be all right on the night.

“But I have no confidence you can approach things in the best way to protect services.”

However the motion was defeated after a vote, 26 to 18, even though it received the backing of Labour and UKIP too.

Councillor Adam Collyer (UKIP, Daventry West), said: “This council has a national reputation.

“Unfortunately it seems to me this council is being distracted by its moves to a next generation model instead of resolving it’s financial issues.”

For Labour, Councillor John McGhee (Lab, Kingswood), said: “We have offered to work together with you to get ourselves our of this mess.

“But you have said no umpteen times. So we do have strong concerns about the state of the finances.”

Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Robin Brown, said the council had to take KPMG’s criticism on the chin.

But in an animated speech, he said the authority would balance the books whatever the case:

“Over the last five years, not only have we been able to balance out budget but in the main we have been able to invest in our services to ensure they are of an acceptable standard.

“Over the last few years we have invested more money into children’s services than ever.”