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Northamptonshire County Council: Libraries to be community managed

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Northamptonshire County Council is millions of pounds overspent on its budget

A crisis-hit council that is millions of pounds overspent on its budget is to offload libraries on to the community to try to keep them open.

Northamptonshire County Council will continue to manage 14 of them and support a further five – with the remaining 17 to be community-managed.

The scheme was revealed as part of the council’s budget for 2019-20.

The authority, which has twice banned spending in 2018, must make savings of £42.9m in 2019-20.

Council leader Matt Golby stressed there would be no further major effects on frontline services, with savings met through improved financial management.

The authority’s plan also includes re-investing in children’s services to reduce the number of residential placements outside the county.

It comes after the government last week brought in a commissioner to oversee the county’s children’s services in reaction to an Ofsted warning that children were “at risk”.

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Northamptonshire County Council revealed its plans as it announced its draft 2019-20 budget

There are also long-term plans to create £1.5m savings over three years by revamping two adult care centres in Northampton and building a nursing home in the north of the county.

Council leader Matt Golby said: “To put a budget forward today with no big effect on frontline services means we probably do have enough money to deal with our issues and the external criticism was that it was how Northamptonshire managed it.

“That has been quite hard for me to comprehend on one level but we can see it in this budget.”

The council has a deficit of £15m on this year’s budget, but at one stage earlier this year it was believed to be as much as £70m.

The authority won government permission last week to spend £70m of capital receipts – such as from the sale of assets like County Hall – to balance the books, which is normally prohibited.

Council chief executive Teresa Grant, who took on the role in July, said the plan was to reverse outsourcing of services.

“If you look at the proposals in front of us today they are about bringing children into the county, bringing adults into facilities in-house and which ultimately provides much better outcomes for people but also delivers savings,” she said.

The Conservative-run council will be scrapped in 2020, along with seven other Northamptonshire borough and district councils, to make way for two new unitary authorities.

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