Kettering Council votes for new unitary authority

GV of Kettering Borough Council offices NNL-140821-111627001
GV of Kettering Borough Council offices NNL-140821-111627001

Kettering Council has voted to put forward a plan to join with neighbouring councils and form a unitary authority.

Leader Russell Roberts says that he will “strain every sinew” to make sure that the authority created is better than the borough system which has gone before.

At last night’s full council meeting (April 26) every single one of Kettering’s councillors, of all political persuasions, voted for the proposal to “submit a proposal for a single tier of local government in Northamptonshire.”

Cllr Roberts said he was sad to have to propose a motion to end the borough council system.

He said: “I will guarantee to the people of Kettering that we are going to strain every sinew to make sure that what comes after will be better and more robust than what we have now.”

All seven borough councils in the county have until July 27 to submit a proposal to Government about a unitary governance system for the county.

They have been advised by the secretary of state that only a proposal for two unitaries will be considered.

The unitary system is being imposed on Northamptonshire after the county authority  ran into severe financial difficulties and was heavily criticised by a government inspector for its mismanagement.

Labour councillor Mick Scrimshaw said the Government had given the councils a difficult task by imposing such a tight deadline.

He said: “Having a solution imposed on us by central government is not the best way forward, and having the timescales of this solution dictated to us by central government is also not helpful.

“Even if every council in Northamptonshire agreed a way forward, we would be struggling to bring it about in the time the Government is talking about, and at the moment there is anything but agreement.”

At the meeting Labour councillors also queried how matters would be worked out between the boroughs, which currently have differing arrangements for services. Kettering and Corby councils both have control of their own housing stock while those in East Northants and Wellingborough are managed by outsourced companies.

All seven borough leaders from across the county plus the leader of Northamptonshire County Council are now regularly meeting to thrash out the details for a unitary.

Government-appointed commissioners are expected to come in to take over Northamptonshire County Council in the next few days.