Government taskforce sent in to turn around Northamptonshire County Council finances

Tony McArdle, one of the government commissioners who will help run NCC
Tony McArdle, one of the government commissioners who will help run NCC

Two commissioners have been drafted in to oversee financial decisions at Northamptonshire County Council for three years following a Government announcement.

Last month, the then local government secretary Sajid Javid announced that he was likely to send commissioners into the council, following the publication of the damning Best Value Inspection report.

Matthew Golby.

Matthew Golby.

Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP has now drafted in two government-appointed commissioners who will work at One Angel Square overseeing finance and governance.

In a written ministerial statement to Parliament, the secretary of state said the commissioners would be led by Tony McArdle, former chief executive of Lincolnshire County Council.

He will be supported by Brian Roberts, former deputy Leicestershire County Council chief executive.

The commissioners will be at the council alongside a new independent improvement board agreed by the council’s cabinet yesterday, which will challenge and oversee improvements at the council.

The commissioners are due to be in place until March 31, 2021, and will update the Secretary of State every three months on progress.

County council leader Matthew Golby said: “We very much welcome the intervention by the government in overseeing financial and governance arrangements at the council as this goes a long way in allaying uncertainty for staff and partners organisations.

“We are very much committed to working with the government to ensure that we deliver the best services for the people of Northamptonshire, whilst being mindful of providing value for money for the taxpayer.

“Both the council’s new-look cabinet and the senior management team see this as an opportunity to bring improvements and we look forward to implementing some positive change.”

In his statement in March, Mr Javid also said local government reform was needed in the county and has invited a restructuring plan to be submitted by the end of July.

Cllr Golby said: “I am keen to continue the work we’ve already begun to reform local government in the county in full partnership with our district and borough council colleagues and with our local MPs.

“Another priority for me is to begin rebuilding trust with our communities and residents.”

In a statement, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Mr Brokenshire said the county’s failures were not down to a lack of funding, but because the authority failed to get a grip on its own finances.

He also said he is not ruling sending in more commissioners to help out but added that he was going to give Northamptonshire the fresh start it deserves.

“I want to reassure the community essential services will continue to be delivered. This will not be an easy process, but I am confident that this decisive action will result in a stronger, better Northamptonshire that’s fit for the future,” his statement said.

“I am keen to work with the council to stabilise the situation and, in line with the inspector’s report, see it move on and reorganise in a way that really works for residents.”

Northamptonshire taxpayers will foot the £1,500 per day bill for two commissioners drafted in to run the county council’s finances.

The ‘lead’ commissioner, Mr McArdle, will be given £800 per day, and his co-worker Mr Roberts will receive £700 per day for any work they carry out for the county council.

Mr Brokenshire confirmed the commissioners will be working between one and two days per week. Expenses will also be paid.