Leader of South Northamptonshire Council writes for you

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Welcome to a new column from councillor Mary Clarke, leader of South Northamptonshire Council.

Hello and welcome to my column. I hope that through this regular column you will find out more about what we are doing to help and support you, our local residents.

As many of you will know, for the past couple of years we have worked jointly with Cherwell District Council in order to reduce our operating costs and at the same time protect frontline services. I am happy to report that this collaboration is working well, with back office costs being reduced and that a balanced and sustainable budget has been established.

We have also been able to invest in those services that protect and enhance our district, for example planning conservation, improved waste collection services and economic development activities that help to attract inward investment and create employment opportunities. And, for the third year running we have frozen your council tax.

However, let’s not forget that we continue to operate in a tough financial climate. If what is reported in the media is correct, then Britain will remain in the grip of austerity through to the 2020 general election, with deep public spending cuts for another seven years.

Recent reports from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Institute for Government claim that the difficulty in securing cuts would prolong the pain for another parliament.

Indeed they predict 1.25m public sector job losses, tax rises and more welfare cuts after the next general election.

It is estimated that Departments would face another 25 per cent cut in their budgets in order to save £33bn in the first three years of the next parliament.

Faced with such an uncertain future, we like others in local government, must change.

Doing things differently is not an option to be explored in the future, it is something that we must be exploring and implementing now – if we are to survive, thrive and to continue to serve the growing needs of our communities.

For these reasons, we at SNC are constantly looking at where we can source funding from, reviewing our levels of spend, monitoring our investments and striving to achieve even greater value for money for the goods and services that we procure.

Not only do we recognise the need for change, but we understand that sometimes we need the help, advice and support of other organisations to make it happen. We will therefore continue to work with a wide range of partners across the South East Midlands to make things happen and I will use this column to update you on progress in the future.

As always your comments and feedback are welcome, either here on this site, or if you prefer you can email me direct on councillormary.clarke@southnorthants.gov.uk