'We need a £100m bailout': Campaigners send a message to Northamptonshire's new commissioners

The Save Northants group were at One Angel Square yesterday to send a message to the two new commissioners set to run finances at the authority.
The Save Northants group were at One Angel Square yesterday to send a message to the two new commissioners set to run finances at the authority.

Protestors rolled out the "welcome mat" for the commissioners set to take over at Northamptonshire County Council by calling on the £1,500 a day taskforce to lobby for emergency funds.

A fortnight ago, bosses at One Angel Square announced that two Government-appointed commissioners would be drafted in to run finances at the embattled authority.

The decision was taken after a Best Value report by inspector Max Caller MBE found a series of failings in the way the authority was being run.

The two-man taskforce of Tony McArdle, former chief executive of Lincolnshire County Council and Brian Roberts, former deputy chief executive of Leicestershire County Council, are due to spend their first day at One Angel Square today.

But yesterday the campaign group Save Northants Services extended a "welcome" to the new arrivals by pitching up at One Angel Square with banners.

Campaigner Paul Crofts, said: "We thought we would use the opportunity of the commissioners arriving to make some points about where Northamptonshire should be heading.

"Firstly there needs to be a settlement with the employees of Northants County Council.

"They have been treated badly, made redundant and kicked around for years.

"But they are at the heart of any solution for the county."

One Angel Square staff were told in March their pay would be frozen as part of the 2018/19 budget. Last year more than 1,000 employees were told their performance-related bonuses would not be paid because too many people achieved a good standard in their managerial reviews.

As a result, Mr Crofts also called on the two commissioners to consider reversing the "austerity politics" of the Conservative government.

"We need an emergency cash injection of funds into Northamptonshire County Council," he said.

"The people of Northamptonshire should not fear for their future as a result of political failures."

The Save Northants Group, who pitched up outside One Angel Square yesterday lunchtime, have drawn up a fact sheet for the two commissioners entitled "How to fix a Council".

It urges the commisioners to lobby for an emergency £100 million injection of funds to "prevent further cuts in essential services and restore some cuts already made".

It also calls on the taskforce to "recognise political failures" - notably the now redundant bid to move all of the county's services over to a set of mutual companies.

Councillor Winston Strachan (Lab, Castle) who was outside Angel Square yesterday, was hoping to get a chance to meet the commissioners.

"They are here to do a job as far as I can see," he said. "They're costing us £1,500 a day. All I am asking for is five minutes of their time."