Parties slug it out over public spend

John Gasking
John Gasking

THE Conservatives have responded to criticisms about the cost of its South Northants Council cabinet by highlighting a golden hand shake received by a Liberal Democrat candidate.

Last week the Advertiser published criticism by district council candidate Chris Lofts.

Mr Lofts uncovered figures which showed the SNC cabinet was costing 10 per cent more than the Northampton Borough Council cabinet which makes decisions affecting three times as many people.

SNC said they were completely open about the cost of the cabinet and believed it represented value for money. An SNC spokesman said that expenses were recommended by an independent renumeration panel then set by councillors, and that the cost reflected the specialist and expert knowledge of cabinet.

This week Mr Lofts’ Tory opponent in Towcester Brook ward John Gasking said he had written to Mr Lofts to find out how much he was paid when he stood down as the SNC deputy chief executive in 2006.

Mr Gasking said, “The Lib Dem candidate has been writing many FOI requests to SNC about how they spend public cash. Transparency and openness cannot be selective, this was probably the biggest payout to an individual ever made by SNC and, we, the tax payer have a right to know about it.

“I am sure that in the spirit of openness and transparency he will agree to full publication without hesitation.”

Mr Lofts told the Advertiser this week he signed a legal agreement at the time which prevents him from commenting on the exit package.

He added: “Once again it appears that the conservative party in South Northants would rather bring personal matters into discussion rather than debate policies and issues. I had hoped we would have a more mature election in Towcester. I regret, though, that for legal reasons I cannot comment on the quoted exaggerated claims.”

He added: “I believe that there are three main policy reasons to support the Liberal Democrats in Towcester; to stop the plans to move SNC offices, to provide effective scrutiny of council actions, and to improve local services and cut waste.”