A Solid Foundation

Today’s guest blog is written by Deputy Mayor Craig Cheney.

Last week the Government published their best value inspection into Northamptonshire County Council:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/northamptonshire-county-council-best-value-inspection

Northamptonshire County Council has been in the news since February when they issued a section 114 notice, a mechanism which imposes spending controls. Believed to be the first one in two decades, the notice bans all new spending on anything other than statutory services for vulnerable people.

The effects are already being felt by the people of Northamptonshire, with plans to sell off the brand new council HQ, removing all bus subsidies and closing 21 of 36 libraries – all while 2,000 cases await allocation to social workers.

The report recommends that the government brings in commissioners to control the council’s finances and the break up the county council into two Unitary Authorities by the next election.

Whilst we’ve taken a lot of criticism over the past few years for taking difficult decisions, this was almost exactly the position we found ourselves in when we came in back in 2016. Poor financial controls and transparency were criticised by the Bundred review of Bristol City Council’s previous leadership structures. We have methodically and rigorously solved, or are solving, each problem identified. Now we’re coming out the other side.

The report states that “In Local Government there is no substitute for doing boring really well. Only when you have a solid foundation can you innovate.” The outside world won’t always realise or notice the work that goes on in the background to achieve the sound base the council is now on. I just wanted to highlight and thank those involved for all for the work done so far and to remind ourselves of what we’ve achieved in difficult circumstances.

As a Labour administration we deserve recognition for it, but it is satisfaction enough to know Bristol will be better off for years to come because of the groundwork we’ve put in.

Things are looking up from here as we protect and deliver services and begin to move forward with the infrastructure our city needs to continue to grow.

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