Northamptonshire County Council's crisis meeting begins" width="976" height="549">
Scores of residents gathered outside Northamptonshire County Council headquarters to protest over proposed cuts
Angry residents gathered outside Northamptonshire County Council to protest about cuts to services.An emergency meeting is underway at the cash-strapped authority which needs to save One public speaker attending the meeting at County Hall described the situation as a "shambles" and demanded council leader Matthew Golby resign.
Protesters also stood for a minute's silence to "mourn" likely cuts to services.Mr Golby acknowledged that the council faced "a massive task" but said bosses "will do everything within our powers" to get the authority "back on track".
The authority has called an emergency meeting to discuss how to make ?70m of savings by March 2019
Labour councillor Mick Scrimshaw opposed the authority's proposals and said there was "not a cat in hell's chance that this year's budget will actually balance"."We need to send a clear and strong message to the government," he added."We cannot manage because of stupid local decisions... and this administration is to blame for that."Of the 57 Northamptonshire county councillors, only 43 are present at the meeting.
'Cuts are criminal'
Many of the protesters displayed banners outside simply saying "No more cuts", while others urged the government to "bail out" the council.Teacher Pat Markey said: "The cuts we have faced over the last few years and the cuts that are about to happen are criminal."Louise Stubbs chairs a campaign group that is fighting to save Brackley library in the county.She said: "Our library service is the most efficient in the entire country... that is why we have had to fight so hard to try and save them."
Northamptonshire County Council was forced to sell its ?53m HQ, which it moved in to in October. It will lease the building back over 35 years
Mr Golby has proposed services be reduced to a "core offer" and said the authority had to decide what it could "realistically provide".He said they would "safeguard all children and young people" while ensuring a "robust safeguarding system to protect vulnerable adults".The "core offer" would also see the authority carry out "sufficient maintenance" of public highways and plan for school places, he added.A council source told the BBC the scale of possible cuts was "huge... completely unprecedented".
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A section 114 notice issued last week, severely curtailing spending at the council, follows the issuing of the same notice in February.Prior to this, there had been only two issued in the UK since 1988.Brian Roberts, one of two government-appointed commissioners overseeing the council, said the authority's finances were in a "truly perilous state".Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, warned services could be "cut to the bone".He told the BBC: "All of local government is finding it hard at the moment. "Northamptonshire is finding it particularly difficult because I'm afraid it's been badly led."
The council has said a "robust" system would be retained to safeguard children and vulnerable adults
Northamptonshire County Council
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