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21 October 2010, 15:14
The belt tightening begins in Northants as police and public bodies seek to live in straightened times.
The Home Office cut for police across the UK is 4%, but Northamptonshire Police gets almost half of it's grant from the Communities and Local Government Department. Treasurer Rosemary Yule told heart "in terms of reducing our budget but still maintaining as many front line personel as we can, clearly that situation is going to get harder and harder and harder as the 4 years go on".
Northamptonshire County Council have started to look at savings with cash for the quarterly residents "Together Northamptonshire", has been cut. Work is now underway to work out the full details and impact of yesterday's funding announcement by the chancellor; however, early forecasts that the council will face the biggest financial challenge in a generation seem to have been correct.
£100,000 NCC provides for the "Together Northamptonshire" magazine will now be withdrawn, to help it rise to this challenge.
Cabinet member for strategy, communications and external relations Councillor David Mackintosh said "We know that people have consistently told us they want to hear from us directly about how the council spends its money and this is why we launched Together Northamptonshire with our colleagues at the police and NHS. However with the challenge now set to us it is clear that we can no longer afford to do this through a residentsâ€™ magazine. As an organisation we are determined to face up to our financial challenges in ways to minimise the impact where possible on those front line services people have told us are most important to them.
This decision is the first step towards this. What we are saying today is that from next financial year we will no longer be in a position to put money towards this publication. We are now looking at how we can still communicate direct to our customers in new more cost-effective ways".
Together Northamptonshire is a jointly-funded magazine from the council, police and NHS and the next edition is due out next month (Nov).
Councillor David Mackintosh Cabinet member for Strategy told Heart: "We've still got to carry out some detailed work to see how this announcement impacts on Northamptonshire, but it presents us with huge challenges - in fact the biggest financial challenge the council has faced. A total of 70 percent of our budget comes directly from the government, so the cuts which were announced yesterday (Wednesday) will have a significant impact on our income and will present a real challenge for us."
"One of the things that we were concerned about was the lack of mention in the Chancellor's speech about the A14. There was talk about the M1, which is welcome for people in Northamptonshire, but the A14 is a key hub for us and we really want to see what announcements come from the Secretary of State for Transport next week and how that will impact on the A14. One of the things we need to look at is the infrastructure in the county and how the local economy can develop and part of that is around the A14"
Councillor Richard Church, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regeneration at Northampton Borough Council, told Heart: "It will mean some very difficult decisions for northampton borough council and the county council in the years ahead. it's going to mean that we are probably going to have to beincreasingly more efficient, that we're going to have to review all our services and make sure that we concentrate on our priorities.
But Northampton Borough Council has already made very large savings in the last 3 years on it's budget, finding more is going to be difficult, but we will do so. We were expecting anyway that our funding from government was going to go down by 10 percent next year. In fact what we've been told by government is not quite as bad as we feared, but it still will be very tough and we're already preparing our budget for it."
When asked about possible redundancies he told us: "We don't know for certain yet, but it's possible and that will obviously be very difficult for the individuals involved if it does have to happen."
Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce told heart "Although the anticipated cuts were always going to be difficult, today‟s announcement could have been far worse for business. The CSR‟s principles were reform, fairness and growth - growth particularly being something that Northamptonshire Chamber has supported throughout the year through its various activities and attended forums, debates and meetings."
"This shift towards growth should start to help restore business confidence and hopefully show small and medium sized businesses that it is time to invest. While we are disappointed that net investment will fall over the next five years, the Government has made some important commitments to transport. Business leaders have argued consistently that investing in roads, railways, the energy grid and broadband will help companies drive growth and jobs."
"Unfortunately for Northamptonshire business, major improvements to the A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton have been scrapped, meaning that there will be no relief to the huge of amount of congestion being experienced in the near future. This route is critical for economic success and growth within our region, so business will be eager to hear how effective or otherwise any new proposals will be. The Department for Transport will be “undertaking a study to identify cost effective and practical proposals ”.