A Tory local council is about to be scrapped following a damning report by government investigators which found its financial and political management “sloppy” and out of control. The report into the running of Northamptonshire County Council said councillors at the Midlands authority have been responsible for “widespread financial mismanagement.
The view was supported by the area’s seven Tory MPs who issued a statement describing the issue as a national scandal and calling for government action to be taken as soon as possible. They said the government should “strike while the iron’s hot”.
The government inspectors report called for the council, which was technically declared bankrupt last year, to be broken up into two parts. Councillors did not have the strength of purpose to bring the council back under control with the necessary stability and safety within a reasonable period, said the Government report. According to the government inspectors the problems were so severe that it was impossible for councillors to rescue the authority. To attempt to do so would be “a reward for failure” the inquiry said.
Whitehall experts are now expected to be sent in to run the authority on a day-to-day basis until a new structure is put in place. Council leader Heather Smith (pictured) has already resigned, blaming the pressures of public life and “vicious” attacks from at least four of the local MPs in her own party.
Northampton has been presiding over “unrealistic” budgets for years and the crisis came to a head in 2017 when it was forced to ban all future spending.
Local council spending is in crisis nationally, largely due to government cuts. Northampton’s claim to be among the Government-hit authorities was rejected by the investigation.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid said his office would be examining the findings in detail.