Kettering Council leader says the hard work starts now

Kettering Council leader Russell Roberts
Kettering Council leader Russell Roberts

The leader of Kettering Council has said the ‘real work begins now’ after his council voted for its own abolition last night (Wednesday).

Tomorrow (Friday) the unitary bid proposing to scrap the county’s eight local authorities and replace them with two super councils will land on the desk of the Secretary of State for Local Government James Brokenshire.

The 18-month process of winding down the councils will then begin and the current timetable is to have the two unitaries, one serving North Northamptonshire and one in the west, ready for elections in May 2020.

Kettering Council leader Russell Roberts voted in favour of the unitary bid last night, saying that if the council did not get on board the government would go ahead without them.

Speaking after the meeting, which saw some lively debate between councillors, the leader said: “The real work begins now.

“The leaders and the chief executives of all eight councils will be meeting now on a very regular basis and our staff will now begin to do the transition work.

“We will be working closely with central government officers and we have within our councils the right staff with the required skills.”

Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northants councils will be replaced with the north unitary and Northampton borough, Daventry district and South Northants councils will form the west.

The county council, whose financial meltdown earlier this year led to the government insisting Northamptonshire looks at a unitary system, will also be abolished.

The unitaries will bring the services delivered separately by the boroughs and county council under one roof.

Corby, South Northants and Daventry District Council still have to have their votes this evening (Thursday), although their decisions will have little impact as only two councils were needed to submit the bid.

The councils have to put up a collective £4 million to pay for the unitary transition.

Part of this will pay for additional consultants to advise the councils.

The councils will lobby central government for some additional funds but central government has not indicated it will pay any funds towards costs.

More details of what happens next should be revealed in the coming weeks.

Next year two shadow councils will be set-up in preparation for the actual unitaries coming into place.

Still to be thrashed out is where the headquarters of the new authorities will be along with a huge amount of other issues such as how the most costly services for children and adults are delivered as well as refuse collection and disposal.