The Labour Councillor for Billing Ward and campaigner for a Unitary Independent Northampton.
At the Northampton Borough Council meeting last night, Monday 5th December 2011 the Conservatives abandoned the people of Northampton, handing the town and its future to their friends on the Northamptonshire County Council by voting against a Labour Motion for Northampton to seek unitary status.
In effect the 21 Conservative Councillors who followed the three-line whip applied by the Leader of the Council, Councillor David Mackintosh have now acknowledged for the first time that they would prefer the people of Northampton to have the delivery and cuts to front line services decided by County Councillors who don’t live in and have demonstrated that they have no concern for the town.
In effect Northampton will now become, in terms of its care, health and welfare services to the elderly and vulnerable, in terms of protecting the housing development areas across the Borough and in terms of the future of our young children’s education a ‘sink estate’ where the funding provided by Northampton tax payers will be used to protect the rural communities and the rural county councillors position.
Can anyone think of another role where you would get paid twice at the taxpayer’s expenses for doing the same job?
Well unbelievably in a time of financial crisis when every family, mother and pensioner is trying and struggling to make ends meet, when people are fearful of losing their jobs and homes, the Conservative Borough Councillors (Cllrs, Mackintosh, Larratt, Hallam, et al) who are also County Councillors have in fact voted for exactly that.
This was a vote for self-interest and no doubt even more of them will turn up on the doorsteps across the town in the next 12 months seeking the electorate to vote for them to get a second tranche of tax payers money, is there any wonder that expressions like “another fat cheque for 4 years” is now considered by some as the new Conservative catchphrase.
Credit has to be given to Cllr Strachan (Labour) and Cllrs Beardsworth and Glynane (Liberal Democrats) who are also County Councillors but who voted for a unitary Northampton Borough and who have demonstrated clearly what ‘dual hatters’ representing the people of Northampton should be doing, fighting for Northampton first which was the whole point of the Labour motion.
The argument was won by Labour for a single authority where the voters of Northampton would be voting for a single council who would have the responsibility and be held accountable by the people for the services it provides.
The vote of course was lost, Conservatives voting 21 against unitary status, and Labour supported by the Liberal Democrats 15 votes for but the fight will continue which is the hallmark of democracy.
Put in simple terms, a single Northampton Council would not have switched the street lights off, would not have cut £4million this year from the elderly care, mental health, youth services and policing budgets all of which have been proposed and supported by the Leader of the Borough Council.
Perhaps considering the vicious and swingeing cuts proposed by Councillor Mackintosh in front line services to the vulnerable the most telling and disgraceful comment at the council meeting was his answer in response to an opposition question when he said,
“We will do what we can to look after the vulnerable”
A start would be to stop the cuts he has introduced and then he could really claim to be
‘Doing everything they can to look after the vulnerable’.
Northampton’s people have now been abandoned by the Conservatives and all of the new regeneration of the town centre which is supported by Labour will not repair the social damage, opposed by Labour, that they are inflicting on every family through self-serving, self-protection policies which were no more illustrated than in their vote to effectively hand the Borough to their friends on the County Council.
No wonder the leaders of the County and Borough Councils are claiming they have a special relationship.