Five of our members, including four Young Labour members, travelled to Parliament last Thursday to meet with our MP Philip Hollobone as part of a lobby of Northamptonshire’s MPs. We requested a number of actions for our MP to take. We believe these actions will be necessary to help manage the financial crisis at Northamptonshire County Council and protect our services if the planned reorganisation of the council goes ahead.
At present, the County Council needs to make £70 million worth of cuts by the end of this year. The reorganisation, which will see the County Council and the seven district and borough councils replaced with two unitary authorities, will cost £30 million. Additionally, the cost of services transformation is estimated to be up to £50 million.
One of our key demands was that Mr Hollobone and the other Northamptonshire MPs pressure the Government to meet the cost of this reorganisation, which it has forced upon residents without proper consultation. Without financial assistance from the Government, it seems likely that the new unitaries would have to sell assets or make even greater cuts to services to cover the cost of the transition.
After the lobby we met with Labour MP Andrew Gwynne, who is Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. He listened to our concerns and gave his support to our requests. He also criticised the role that central government has played in causing the crisis since 2010. The Conservatives have cut funding for councils by nearly 50%. With many other councils on the brink of collapse after years of austerity, it is clear that this is not just a local, but also a national issue.
Young member Lucy Bishop, who attended the lobby, said, “I think it’s massively important to lobby your MPs in order to make your voice heard and object to changes within local government that would otherwise go unnoticed”. Fellow young member George Sullivan said, “To have had the opportunity to visit Parliament and lobby our MP, despite our age, reflects the superb quality of British democracy”.
Kettering Labour Party members will continue to fight for a fair deal for our county. It is unacceptable for Kettering residents to suffer because of the Conservative’s financial mismanagement of Northamptonshire County Council.