Corby Council is setting up a special committee to keep the public up to date with unitary discussions.
The council is following in the footsteps of neighbouring Wellingborough Council by establishing a sub-committee which will meet once a month and discuss the way forward for a proposed new unitary council.
So far all discussions about the plans for the North Northants unitary council since the bid was put to the Government in August have been held in private with only senior officers, council leaders and MPs privy to plans about how the four amalgamated borough councils will operate.
Corby Council is setting up the committee despite being the only one of Northamptonshire’s eight councils to say no to a unitary system.
The scrapping of Northamptonshire’s two-tier system and replacing it with a unitary form of governance has been forcefully suggested by the Government earlier this year after the much-documented financial collapse of Northamptonshire County Council.
A report to go before the One Corby meeting next Tuesday says: “There are a number of significant issues that need to be addressed prior to the establishment of Shadow authorities, and while this work may prove abortive should the Secretary of State determine not to pursue the proposal, it cannot be left until a final decision has been reached. The purpose of the proposed sub-committee would be to inform, monitor and consider issues relating to the Reform programme.”
It continues: “Not choosing to establish a sub-committee would restrict the ability for officers and member representatives to formally report-in to council on developments with regard to the Reform programme, with an over-reliance on informal briefings. A sub-committee would improve the public’s access to information and improve officer member accountability.
It is suggested the committee will be made up of four Labour councillors and one Conservative councillor to reflect the make-up to the council.
The secretary of state is expected to start his consultation process on the unitary plans later this month, although progress is already behind where expected to be.
The plan is to cancel this coming May’s elections and have two new unitary authorities in the county by May 2020.
Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporter