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The Unitaries are both rolling Tory-controlled disasters. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a reversal within a decade.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

Cllr Griffiths must bear some significant responsibility for the destruction of Northamptonshire County Council and the Borough and District councils. As a Conservative councilor on NNC he supported the massive cuts to services, the disastrous flirtation with out-sourcing of services and expensive PFI contracting which led to the financial crisis. This was combined with financial and political mismanagement and refusal to allow effective scrutiny of council decision-making. Martin was part of all this over many years and did not object to what was happenning - rather the reverse, he was an advocate .

In addition he was leader of Wellingborough Council and failed to protect local democracy and the interests of Wellingborough people.

He now recants in respect of the latter, but is silence on his role in the former, which actually caused the crisis which led almost inevitably to the the abolitionof NCC, district/Borough councils and the formation of two equally disasterous new unitaries.

I respect that Martin is now critical of what has happenned, but unless he and others learn the lessons of the disastrous Tory politics of neo-liberalism and austerity he persued under NCC then the mistakes stand to be repeated, both nationally and locally, as indeed is actually happenning.

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AND - they managed to avoid elections for a significant period after the change so we can't vote out the arrogant councillors

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NNC is now run by a cohort of East Northants councillors, the Wellingborough MP and his boy wonder in Corby - after passing NNC the biggest legal cost that East Northants incurred after its bullying of the pub landlord. Disgraceful bunch. And for sure Wellingborough has always been and continues to be the poor relation. With new boundary changes taking away its southern villages and a weakened town council with conflicted councillors who operate on both councils.

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Investigative journalism at its best thanks to NNJ. A question was asked at last nights North Northants scrutiny management board about the current state of transformation and harmonisation so will be reading with interest 😊💕

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I'm interested in knowing who voted for Mold in the 'supervisory so called' board. Was the vote recorded, it is impossible to believe only three members voted for him to go.

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The origin of the Unitary model was the Caller report to the Secretary of State, on the failure of NCC. Contrary to what Mr Hakewill says, suggesting the absence of an analysis of how and why NCC failed, I would say that Caller's report was a well-researched, thorough and professional analysis, both of NCC's inherent problems and the way these problems were exacerbated by the failures of the individuals who were in charge.

My own view at the time, and now, was (and is) that the unitary model was a logical route to follow. At the same time, I would freely acknowledge that it isn't working out very well. The biggest problem is money, and within that, the biggest cause is the biggest ticket item, which is Children's Services. Retaining the county-wide, trans-unitary approach to Children's Services was a big mistake. It is a highly unwieldy model, that gives too much power (and opportunity to exploit and empire-build) to the trust managers, who are running their organisation on the basis that its budget is a minimum available spend, not a target maximum. We all suffer as a result.

The second biggest cause of the money problem is that we don't collect enough council tax. To be succinct, relative to national averages, we have an average level of overall service demand, an above average level of leadership incompetence and a below average level of council tax revenue. It is no wonder, in the slightest, that we in NNC (and, I would imagine, in WNC also) are steadily running out of reserves, and, when we do, the new council will collapse just as comprehensively as NCC did.

The second overall problem (and here, I will concentrate specifically on NNC and invite others to say whether the same is true in WNC also) is with the personalities who are at the political head of the council. They are a very incapable group, in terms of the skills and experience they bring to the job (there is an almost comical number of failed small business-people among the leadership group) and, as we see in their behaviours and reactions to problems, they are also very limited in terms of intellectual prowess. Thus we see furtiveness in terms of decision making (of which the undermining of the scrutiny system is an excellent but not exclusive example), and tribal, even feral, protectiveness towards those, all too many of them, who mess up - examples being those who run the Cornerstone project, and the platoon of individuals who participated in, enabled or covered up the Monks affair. A further example of this broad problem of intellectual limitation is the concentration of power in the hands of those whom the leader himself feels least uncomfortable with (or least threatened by), i.e. former East Northants cabinet members.

So, I don't see the unitary model, of itself, to be a cause of our current problems. Rather, it is a failure to manage the councils' revenue and services correctly, and a gross excess of very incapable people doing the leading and managing. Running the councils (particularly, in my opinion, NNC) can and should be done better.

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He's very naive to think that the make up of the council (or WNC) will change much as they were effectively gerrymandered to always be blue.

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