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£10m cuts plan to close libraries as Northamptonshire council hits 'crisis point'

Northamptonshire County Council is set to discuss proposals for another £10m of cuts in a desperate bid to balance its books.

The new plans include scrapping all bus subsidies, cutting highways and trading standards budgets and closing 21 smaller libraries unless community groups run them instead.

The council's cabinet will also consider reducing councillors' allowances and a pay freeze for staff.

It comes after auditors said the original budget proposal was potentially unlawful.

The authority's already agreed to sell off its new 50 million pound headquarters in a bid to stave off the financial crisis which has seen almost all new spending banned.

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“Northamptonshire is at the leading edge of a financial challenge the severity of which local government has never seen before. It is a challenge all top tier authorities will face, but Northamptonshire has reached crisis point now.

“Faced with unprecedented demand for local services, above-average population growth and reducing funding from central government, we are now in a position where we must focus on safeguarding vulnerable people and statutory services."

– Cllr Robin Brown, Northamptonshire County Council

Northamptonshire MPs call for resignations on cash-strapped county council

Northamptonshire County Council has brought in emergency spending controls. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Northamptonshire's Conservative MPs have called for Government commissioners to take over the running of the cash-strapped county council.

It comes after the council became the first for around 20 years to bring in emergency controls banning new spending.

In a joint statement, the MPs say the problems are self-inflicted and that they have no faith in the Tory administration. They've called on the Cabinet to resign.

"Backbench county councillors have been complaining that they've been kept in the dark and haven't been made aware about the extent to which the financial situation has deteriorated. MPs, too, feel that we've been kept in the dark and that's why we're calling on the Cabinet to go."

– Philip Hollobone MP, Kettering

Cllr Heather Smith, the leader of the council, insists the problems are a result of a 'perfect storm' of less government funding and more pressure on services.

Today (February 5th) Northamptonshire County Council announced its final budget proposals - which may be reviewed after the decision to implement the spending controls known as a Section 114 notice.

The notice means no new expenditure is permitted apart from safeguarding vulnerable people and statutory services.

It's in light of the significant risk that the council will not be in a position to deliver a balanced budget by the end of this financial year.

The final budget proposals for 2018/19 include a council tax increase of just under 6%, including the 3% adult social care precept.

“We are legally bound to set a budget for the coming financial year but the challenge we are now facing is unprecedented and there will no doubt be difficult decisions to be made over the coming weeks and months.”

– Cllr Heather Smith

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Exclusive report on the sale of personal data

Data from the electoral register can be sold on by councils Credit: ITV News

Exclusive figures obtained by ITV News Anglia show councils in our region have made more than £100,000 in the last 5 years from selling information from the electoral register.

Councils say the money is put back into running election services or local community projects. But privacy groups say many people are unaware of how it's used.

Help for rough sleepers in Ipswich

With temperatures set to fall this week, Ipswich Borough Council is to re-activate its emergency beds scheme for rough sleepers from Wednesday. The Borough Council runs two emergency beds all year round for people in need but that provision is increased to 12 when temperatures drop sharply.

Beds are available on a first come, first served basis and also come with an offer of housing advice to see if trained staff can provide longer term help. The Council is working with local churches, which are also supplying a winter bed service for people in need.