Corby and Wellingborough council leaders praise unitary seminars

Two seminars were held to inform councillors what the transition to unitary councils will mean.
Two seminars were held to inform councillors what the transition to unitary councils will mean.

The leaders of Corby and Wellingborough councils have praised two high-profile seminars which have given councillors an insight into the unitary road ahead.

County, borough and district councillors from across Northamptonshire have met at two unitary seminars over the past 10 days.

Hosted by the Local Government Association (LGA), the sessions at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton, featured guest speakers from other councils nationwide which are going through similar reorganisation, including Poole and East Dorset, and from those which have already made the transition to unitary status including Bedford, Durham, Cornwall and Bracknell Forest.

And the reaction from Northamptonshire councillors who attended the events has been positive.

Leader of Corby Council, Cllr Tom Beattie, whose authority voted against the unitary plan, said: “It is important that we do all we can to prepare for any decision from the Secretary of State and these seminars are an example of how we are doing just that. It has been extremely helpful to all come together and hear directly from others that have been through a similar process.”

Leader of Wellingborough Council Cllr Martin Griffiths said: “A considerable amount of work has been carried out by senior officers and leaders across the county over the past 12 months. Following the recent announcement by the Secretary of State, all elected members are now working collaboratively to shape the future of local government in Northamptonshire.”

An eight-week consultation was announced last week by Secretary of State for Local Government James Brokenshire.

His announcement came after increasingly anxious calls from council leaders who had begun to fear that the time to carry out all the necessary arrangements ahead of a planned May 2020 start date was running out.

If following the consultation the minister decides to approve the unitary bid, a shadow council will be created in May 2019.

People can take part in the consultation at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-proposed-reorganisation-of-local-government-in-northamptonshire