For years now, UNISON has been drawing attention to the disastrous mis-management, poor leadership and chronic underfunding of Northamptonshire County Council – and demanding change.
Northamptonshire has become a watchword for local government failure, and a salutary warning to those who believe that privatisation is the answer for local services. This is a council that has pursued an extreme low council tax, high outsourcing policy that has pushed the authority to the very brink – leading to a government investigation that recommended abolishing the county council altogether.
Yet as I wrote earlier this year – it’s also a council with incredible staff providing public services in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. UNISON members – a credit to our union – working tirelessly for communities that have been badly let down by local and national politicians alike.
Unbelievably, the council have now elected to heap further pressure still upon public services pushed beyond breaking point. The cuts under discussion could leave services in breach of the legal minimum local authorities must provide, or see them closed altogether. We know who will suffer – children and the vulnerable, left without the support they need. And public service workers once again forced to pay the cost of an ideological pursuit of low taxes and outsourcing.
Our whole union stands by our members in Northamptonshire as they fight for their jobs, their pay and the services they provide. We will continue to do so, through whatever challenges they face next. And we will never stop fighting for better funding, better management and better pay for all our public services.