Kettering council sets up unitary committee to represent town's interests

Kettering Council's offices.
Kettering Council's offices.

A special committee will be set up to make sure the interests of Kettering people are represented as the county moves towards two new unitary councils.

Kettering Council will follow in the footsteps of its neighbouring councils at Wellingborough, Corby and East Northants and create a committee of councillors who will have responsibility for making sure the new unitary arrangements are beneficial to the town and borough.

The Secretary of State for Local Government James Brokenshire launched an eight-week public consultation last week over plans for two new unitaries in Northamptonshire. If the minister decides to approve the move to unitary the current timetable is to have elections to the new super councils in May 2020.

The existing councils of Corby, Kettering, East Northants and Wellingborough will make up the north unitary and will offer all the services the county council currently provides, such as children’s and adults services and highways maintenance as well as the services currently provided by the borough, such as refuse collection and planning.

A report to be agreed by the authority’s full council next Wednesday ( Dec 12) says: “The committee will be responsible for considering the council’s position in respect of overseeing transition plans as they affect the borough and the existing council, and considering issues of governance, finance and service delivery to feed into the collaborative arrangements of the five authorities planning for the new North Northamptonshire unitary council. The committee will therefore seek to ensure that, in so far as is possible, the interests of the people of the borough are protected and represented during and after the transition period.”

The proposal is for the committee to be made up of five councillors from the ruling Conservative party and two councillors from the opposition Labour party.

Leader of the opposition Cllr Mick Scrimshaw, who will be on the committee, said: “I am delighted that it is a cross-party group. Kettering Council also needs to be discussing what it is doing with regards to possibly creating a town council. Wellingborough Council has been looking at that issue for months.”

Meetings are taking place on a weekly basis between Northamptonshire’s eight political council leaders and their chief executive officers about the plans for unitary. It is a huge undertaking and Northamptonshire’s conversion to unitary will have to be one of the quickest to ever have taken place if it is to meet the timescales set out.