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County Council Improvement Board Meet For First Time

Author: Steve Freer Published: 11th September 2018 12:32

Northamptonshire County Council's new Improvement Board met for the first time at One, Angel Square, Northampton on Thursday, 6 September, 2018. Northamptonshire County Council's new Improvement Board met for the first time at One, Angel Square, Northampton on Thursday, 6 September, 2018.

Northamptonshire County Council's new Improvement Board met for the first time at One, Angel Square, Northampton on Thursday, 6 September, 2018. Details of the membership of the Board are attached as an appendix to this statement. They reflect an intention to bring together key players from three main constituencies: the County Council itself; the wider public services economy in Northamptonshire; and the local government community beyond Northamptonshire.
The Board is keen to perform its role as effectively as possible and to provide regular updates on its progress. Accordingly, it has agreed to publish a statement after each meeting summarising the issues discussed and the work undertaken.
At this first meeting draft terms of reference were discussed. The Board agreed that its overriding aim should be to work with the County Council, in the public interest, to help place its finances and its services in the best possible position ahead of the expected transition to a new unitary local government structure in Northamptonshire. The march towards local government reorganisation is gathering momentum. Seven of Northamptonshire's eight principal local authorities have recently resolved to support a new structure based on two unitary councils, and it is understood that all eight now intend to support planning for such a structure. The ambition should be that services will transition smoothly and on a sustainable basis into the new structure providing a stable platform for successor councils.
A number of significant reports - most importantly the Best Value Inspection Report published in March, 2018 - have highlighted a range of shortcomings in the County Council's culture and practices and its precarious financial position is a matter of public record. The Board hopes to work productively with the Council's members, senior staff, commissioners and partners to ensure that key deficiencies are being tackled by robust implementation of carefully tailored improvement plans. Very helpfully, representatives of partner organisations indicated their readiness to engage and cooperate with the County Council with a view to delivering the best possible outcomes for residents.
The Board also received a presentation from Commissioners concerning the Council's financial position and prospects looking ahead. Outturn results for 2017/18 remain subject to audit. When finalised they are expected to reflect negative financial reserves emphasising, alongside the recent issue of a second sec114 report, the unprecedented nature of the Council's difficulties. As a result it is very clear that the ambition of achieving a balanced financial position by 1 April, 2020, the expected reorganisation date, is a daunting challenge which will require urgent and determined efforts.

The Board were assured that the County Council is committed to rising to this challenge and to delivering positive progress which addresses not only the need to improve the financial position but also the need to maintain essential public services on which residents rely. Commissioners acknowledged the progress being made by the member and officer leadership of the Council to learn the lessons from the past, implement necessary changes and lead the organisation in a manner that reflects a positive culture and behaviours.
The Board expects to scrutinise the Council's developing stabilisation and improvement plans and to monitor their implementation and outcomes at future meetings, the dates of which will be agreed and published in due course.
Steve Freer
Independent Chair

Appendix 1
Improvement Board Membership

  • Jessica Crowe, Assistant Director - Customers, Commissioning & Governance, LB Sutton
  • Dawn Cummins, Chief Executive, Voluntary Impact, Northamptonshire
  • Mark Edgell, Principal Adviser, Local Government Association
  • Chrissie Farrugia, Commissioners' Chief of Staff
  • Cllr. David Finch, Leader, Essex CC
  • Steve Freer, Independent Chair
  • Cllr. Matt Golby, Leader, Northamptonshire CC
  • Theresa Grant, Chief Executive, Northamptonshire CC
  • Angela Hillery, Chief Executive, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and Northamptonshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) Lead
  • Tony McArdle, Commissioner
  • Cllr. Andy Mercer, Cabinet Member, Northamptonshire CC
  • Stephen Mold, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner
  • Dan Moody, Chief Executive, Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils
  • Cllr. Steve North, Leader, East Northamptonshire DC
  • Cllr. Jonathan Nunn, Leader, Northampton BC
  • Brian Roberts, Commissioner
  • Cllr. Bob Scott, Leader, Labour Group, Northamptonshire CC
  • Graham Soulsby, Managing Director, Kettering BC
  • Cllr. Chis Stanbra, Leader, Liberal Democrat Group, Northamptonshire CC
  • Ian Vincent, Chief Executive, Daventry DC
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peter k
At 10:48 on 12th September 2018, peter k commented:
Lets hope this lot read and fully digest Martin Johns' article above (12 September)

And take some action................
peter k
At 16:00 on 15th September 2018, peter k commented:
Further to my comment above, I suggest this group looks into the general move to "Cabinet " control in seemingly all the various councils.

The worry I have is that "Cabinets" are made up from members of the political majority of the elected councilors. In other words all of similar political leanings? If so this will naturally inhibit any alternative viewpoint? Possibly a reason for the various debacles spreading around the countries County Councils?

Let us all hope full consultation and full council voting is returned to these new unitary authorities with the demise of the "Cabinet"system?

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