Leeds City Council vows it won't become complacent

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Authorities in Leeds must learn lessons from the beleaguered Northamptonshire County Council, a meeting has heard.

Members of a Leeds City Council committee claimed the East Midlands authority suffered from a “failure in leadership” as it was put into insolvency measures last year.

The comments were made during a discussion on the soon-to-be-defunct authority, with claims that council members in Leeds need to be reassured that the same cannot happen in West Yorkshire.

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Coun Peter Harrand (Con) said: “Throughout the whole thing with Northamptonshire Council, councillors and management thought everything was fine.

The Leeds skyline.The Leeds skyline.
The Leeds skyline.

“They were dreaming.”

It was revealed in 2018 that Northamptonshire County Council had effectively run out of money, and faced a funding shortfall of around £65m. Two notices banning all new spending were then issued.

The Conservative-led authority – and the county’s seven other councils – are now expected to be replaced with two new unitary authorities in 2020.

Referring to a Government report into what went on at Northamptonshire, chairman of the committee, Coun Kevin Ritchie, said: “It’s really damning.

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“The right to know that members had was flouted, ignored and treated with contempt, by the sounds of it.

“There were opportunities to make some interventions – [I think it’s] a failure of leadership.

“It would be interesting to see how the opposition felt and if it was different to members of the administration, who all seem to have been treated with contempt.

“The residents of Northamptonshire and surrounding areas, staff and employees will suffer. It isn’t a matter of laughing at the council and wagging our finger, because it’s important that we never become complacent.”

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“For some of the things that have gone on there, we need assurance that it can’t happen here.

“One of the beauties of our scrutiny committee is the fact that the cross-party nature works, the opposition keeps us on our toes, and from our own side people aren’t afraid to challenge cabinet on issue.

“We won’t get complacent in Leeds.”