Corby Council will call on government to delay unitary council creation

Labour-run Corby Council said no to unitary and  leader Tom Beattie now wants a delay on the planned 2020 unitary transition.
Labour-run Corby Council said no to unitary and leader Tom Beattie now wants a delay on the planned 2020 unitary transition.

Corby Council will be calling on central government to put back the proposed 2020 date for the new unitary authorities as it does not think there is enough time left to make the changes.

The council was the only one of the eight Northamptonshire local authorities to say no to unitary, and now leader Tom Beattie has said his council thinks that May 2020 is too soon to successfully reorganise local public services in Northamptonshire.

Corby councillors will vote on their response to the Government’s current consultation on the unitary proposal at its full council meeting on Wednesday next week (Jan16).

It will also make a decision whether to follow the lead of Wellingborough council and consider setting up a Corby town council.

In a statement issued today (Jan7) Cllr Beattie, who has been the leader of the Labour-run authority since 2011, said: “We have always been clear that we do not support the unitary proposals, we believe that there are benefits from current and future joint working arrangements that can be achieved without unitarisation.

“That being said if this is what is decided by the Secretary of State we will of course continue to work with the other Northamptonshire local authorities to ensure that our residents get the best possible outcome and services that they deserve.

“We do believe, however, that in order to achieve a successful reorganisation of this scale that the proposed vesting day of April 1, 2020, is extended and this is proposed within our recommended response and proposed ‘Evolutionary Model’.”

The Government directed that a unitary council system be considered for Northamptonshire after the financial failings of the county council, which saw it unable to balance its books last year.

In August seven of Northamptonshire’s councils reluctantly put forward a bid for two unitary councils, one to cover the west of the county another to provide services for the north.

A consultation by Secretary of State for Local Government James Brokenshire was started in November and various Northamptonshire council leaders have expressed their concern at the tight timescale.

If Corby wants to create a town council, which would have the same level of powers as a parish council, it must first carry out a community governance review.

Cllr Beattie said: “It is clear that councillors want to ensure that Corby’s identity and local decision making is not lost in our borough should unitary authorities be introduced in Northamptonshire. The options that are being presented to us at full council on the 16th allow us to look at future governance options and consider what actions we can take now to ensure that we mitigate these concerns as much as possible.”