Corby Council leader: We don’t want unitary authority here

Corby Council leader Tom Beattie
Corby Council leader Tom Beattie

Corby Council leader Tom Beattie has publicly declared his opposition to the Government’s proposal to scrap the authority and merge it with three other councils.

Councillor Beattie has written to Secretary of State for Local Government Sajid Javid to voice his concerns about the plan to create two unitary authorities for Northamptonshire.

He has also said that he will consult with the people of Corby and that he is confident that they will want to remain as a single authoirty.

Mr Javid wants to reform local government in Northamptonshire after the county council was found to have mismanaged its financial affairs.

It would mean Corby, Wellingborough, Kettering and East Northamptonshire councils merging to form one unitary authority and South Northants, Northampton and Daventry merging to form a second unitary council. The councils have all been working together to come up with a joint plan.

It is the first time that a leader at one of Northamptonshire’s seven borough and district councils has publicly stated opposition to the Government’s proposal.

In his letter to Mr Javid, to which he has not yet receved a reply, Councillor Beattie says that as the fastest growing borough outside of London, the achievements of the town are a source of great local pride, adding: “Given what we have achieved, how we are performing, and what we have planned for the future benefit of Corby, Corby Borough Council does not willingly accept the inspector’s recommendation that two new unitary authorities be formed to serve the whole of the county.

“Corby Council’s hard working and committed councillors provide much needed and cherished local accountability within a council that meets in Corby, and makes decisions focussed on, and for the benefit of, Corby. A new north Northants unitary authority as recommended by your Inspector will see Corby subsumed into a much larger entity with a different focus and a geography that stretches tens of miles across Corby, and the separate communities of Wellingborough, Kettering and East Northants.

“Local accountability should remain just that, local.

“In line with its listening culture this Council will conduct its own consultation on the inspector’s unitary recommendations and I am confident that local people will want Corby to remain as a discrete local authority with its own unique identity.

“There is already being displayed by the Corby public a real concern that the commitment the Borough Council has consistently given to maintain and improve all its services will not be fully honoured by a new unitary authority saddled with County Council debts and its failing under resourced services. This is not what the people of Corby want or deserve.”

Corby Council is the only Labour-run coucil in Northamptonshire.

Cllr Beattie’s letter is part of a report that will be presented to the full council next Thursday.

In the report, chief executive Norman Stronach says that the council will continue to work with the other districts and boroughs to formulate a plan and that a further report will be prepared for councillors before the July deadline for submissions to the Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, all the borough and district leaders met today (Friday) to talk about the way forward. After their meeting they released a joint statement that said: “The leaders of the district and borough councils in Northamptonshire have held a positive meeting today with the Leader of Northamptonshire County Council to explore and agree ways of working together for the benefit of the residents of the county.”