Northamptonshire county councillors full of praise for turning finances around in final cabinet meeting

'When we close the door on NCC, we would have left it in a very good financial place'

Senior Northamptonshire county councillors marked the last ever cabinet meeting by praising the effort to get the local authority back on a stable financial footing.

Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) will end its 132-year history with at least a £16.6 million underspend in its budget and £60 million in reserve - three years after going bankrupt.

At the historic cabinet meeting on Tuesday (February 9), leader Matt Golby said a lot of 'work, dedication, pain and angst' have gone into turning the coffers around from officers and councillors.

Northamptonshire County Council

"Overall I want to recognise how far we've come the excellent work that's gone into this," he said.

"The fact that we're not quite there yet but when we close the door on NCC, we would have done so and left it in a very good financial place."

The county council's financial crisis in 2018 resulted in it and the seven other borough and district councils in Northamptonshire being abolished and replaced by two unitary authorities.

West and North Northamptonshire councils are due to come into force on April 1, taking over all local authority services.

Cllr Golby said a 'superb' effort has gone in to turn around the council's finances and change its culture, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cabinet member with responsibility for finance, Malcolm Longley, said the budget underspend and reserves are likely to increase by the time the new authorities take over.

He added that a significant 'warchest' is available to aid the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and quelled concerns the government would ask for any unspent cash to be paid back.

The cabinet also ratified the urgent decision to lease of the large warehouse on Moulton Park Industrial Estate to be used as the county's mass vaccination centre.

The centre is expected to cost around £568,000 for a three-year lease but chief executive Theresa Grant insisted the NHS will be paying the council back in full.

Officers were also praised for their speed in acquiring the space on Summerhouse Road to ensure it could open on time, with Northamptonshire near the top of most national vaccination league tables, the meeting heard.

The full county council meeting on Thursday (February 18) is expected to be the last major meeting of the local authority.