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TWICE-BANKRUPT Northamptonshire County Council approved massive cuts to jobs and services at a crisis meeting today.
Children’s services, road maintenance and waste management are among the core areas facing “radical” cuts in an attempt to address a projected £70 million funding shortfall for this financial year.
Fifteen Conservative councillors out of 41 failed to attend the meeting. All but one of the Tories that did attend backed the budget-slashing plan.
Two out of 11 Labour councillors and one independent also failed to attend. The opposition councillors in attendance voted against the cuts.
Local trade unionist Bianca Todd, who spoke before the action plan was discussed, expressed outrage at the absences.
She said: “You have got to be kidding me. We’re making national news. When people die this winter, because they will die this winter, the blood will be on your hands.”
Opposition councillors reiterated their objection to the proposed actions of the local authority.
Labour’s Bob Scott said: “We will try and fight and challenge to try and mitigate the disaster the Tories have made, both nationally and locally. We will not vote to harm the people of Northamptonshire."
Councillors will meet in the coming weeks to work out which services and jobs will be axed.
Conservative council leader Matt Golby claimed that his administration would avoid putting vulnerable service users at risk.
It also emerged that the council was forced in April to take on two commissioners from Whitehall who, according to Labour councillor Dennis Meredith, are being paid £1,500 a day, allegedly out of council funds.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The financial challenges facing the council are clearly serious and reinforce how important it was that we took swift action to appoint commissioners.”
Labour’s shadow local government and communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said the vote to cut services “lays bare the cost of Tory mismanagement” and austerity over the past eight years.
“Years of austerity have stripped away council finances across the country, and what precious little funds remain have been squandered by the Tories’ own councils.
“Northamptonshire will not be the last council in crisis and Northants residents will not be the last to have to bear the burden of Tory neglect.
"This is a really bad day for the people of Northants and the Conservatives are clearly to blame.”
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