A county-council owned archaeology service which undertakes work for developers, highway engineers and house builders could be sold off depending on the result of a meeting next week.
Currently run by Northamptonshire County Council, Northamptonshire Archaeology provides a commercial archaeological service in support of the planning process.
The organisation covers everything from desk-based studies, geophysical and landscape survey, the recording of historic buildings, and all aspects of below-ground investigation, from trial trenches to open areas, with full reporting of the results.
About a third of the work is based in Northamptonshire, the remainder being in adjacent counties or elsewhere in the UK. However, only about one to two per cent of its work is actually for the county council.
The county council says that due to the economic down-turn, competition for work has been fierce in recent years, and the sale to MOLA will place Northamptonshire Archaeology within an organisation which can facilitate stability, future growth and improved profitability by having the capacity to bid for more lucrative national contracts.
This will benefit staff by securing their long-term employment.
MOLA, one of the top three archaeological businesses in the country and is a charitable company which re-invests its profits into archaeology and heritage educational activities.
Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection said: “This move has benefits for all as clearly Northamptonshire Archaeology has the potential to flourish through an association with Museum of London Archaeology, and both parties can bring the benefits of their expertise.
“It also makes sense to the county council as the authority will still be able to benefit from the service, but without any financial risk.”
Northamptonshire Archaeology does not provide the statutory planning, advisory or curatorial function of the authority, which is retained by the county council.