When the Conservatives took over the Northampton Borough Council with no overall control in 2003 the first thing Cllr Phil Larratt the then Leader of the Conservatives did was insisted on wholesale cuts in Senior Management.
Out went the Chief Executive and 3 Directors, the number of service Heads of Department was reduced from 23 to 9 posts.
The result was utter chaos for over 3 years, a change of Leader with Cllr Larratt being relieved of his position, and the consequent need to remove the Chief Executive he installed in 2006.
Of course the major political outcome was the decline in Conservative vote and a majority for the Liberal Democrats in 2007 who inherited a temporary Chief Executive and had to recruit a permanent Chief Executive and put together a management team at the Guildhall.
In May the Borough Council Conservative manifesto as I had called for during the previous two years was clear that senior management was an issue and had to be reduced.
In the first 6 months it was reduced by 3 posts and over the coming years would be reduced by a minimum of 20% which would have reduced senior management costs by almost £500,000.
Why only 20%?
What is needed is to be able to continue to manage the organisational change, deliver the major projects such as the Enterprise Zone, Grosvenor Centre, Delapre Abbey, Bus Interchange, Housing Developments, Welfare Reforms, Housing Reforms and Localisim Bill and all other services which needs a certain level of professional expertise and management.
Conservatives led by senior members from the County Council have pushed for the sharing of a Chief Executive (no guessing which they would choose) and a move to sharing services with the County Council that would cost Borough taxpayers more than they do now. It is a move that all Districts across the County have seen through and have rejected.
What a number of Borough Conservatives wanted to see was a wholesale Senior Management clear out based not on business sense or logic but clear dislike of some individuals who they believe are too strong because they stand up for Northampton and refuse to bow the knee to big brother at the county.
It was a constant battle with the arrogant County Council not only during my short period as Leader of the Council but in the previous 18 months as Leader of the Borough Conservative Group with the County quite simply thinking that Districts should do as they are told and be grateful for any scraps that fall to them.
Woe betide anyone who actually questions or exposes their weak leadership and management which has led to the need for them to make swingeing cuts to essential services over the next three years.
We will be told it all down to the Labour Government and recession and in part that is true.
It is undeniable however that it is also down to a County Council failure to manage their income and expenditure for political reasons who are now because of the recession in the position of being in economic meltdown, and it will be the people who have to take the brunt of at least 6 years of incompetence and especially the people of Northampton who make up a third of the County with all of the underlying problems that a large town has.
Sadly those who made the errors before are in a position to once again repeat the follies of the past.
It will reflect unfairly on the new Conservative Councillors who are excellent people and who have entered the Council for the right reasons.
It is a folly I am absolutely committed to oppose, it is foolish and only plays into those who want to merge Northampton Borough Council into the County Council as part of the push for a Northamptonshire Unitary Council.
This really is a case of ‘Cry Havoc! and slip the dogs of war’
Northampton is now on a dangerous track.
Oh how those on the County Council must be smiling