New 'shadow' council to be set up for north of Northamptonshire

A shadow unitary authority for north Northamptonshire is set to be in place by this time next year in the biggest shake-up in the county's local governance for several decades.

Thursday, 19th April 2018, 11:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th April 2018, 11:36 pm
A shadow unitary authority for north Northamptonshire is set to be in place by this time next year in the biggest shake-up in the countys local governance for several decades

Council elections for 2019 are very likely to be suspended and instead a transitional unitary will be formed with the councils of Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northants each nominating councillors to sit on the executive body.

And new town councils for Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough could be created.

The same will happen in the west of the county, as the way is paved for the abolition of Northamptonshire County Council .

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It is expected that the legislation will go to parliament this December.

All of the council leaders from across the county were given details of the timeline at a meeting with the senior civil servant Paul Rowsell, Deputy Director for Democracy, in Wellingborough yesterday (April 18).

Corby Council leader Tom Beattie broke the news to his councillors at a full council meeting held this evening (April 19) at Corby Cube.

He said: “All of the boroughs and districts feel aggrieved by the failure of Northamptonshire County Council, which did not come as a surprise to any of us as we watched for the past few years the car crash slowly take place. So all of us are faced with a situation not of our making or that we wish to be involved in.

“This is a unique situation. We were told yesterday that if none of the councils were prepared to issue a proposal then the commissioners, who have not yet been appointed, will be invited to submit a proposal. So in effect if the borough councils decided collectively they did not want to do anything, the commissioners would do it anyway.”

The councils have until Friday, July 27, to submit a proposal either individually or collectively to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid. The leaders have been advised that a proposal for one unitary is not an option.

After receiving the borough’s proposal Mr Javid will consider whether to accept or reject it and then is by law obliged to consult. The legislation to establish the unitary councils and delay the 2019 elections will be voted on by both Houses of Parliament.

The shadow unitary will oversee the transition to the new authority by spring 2020 with elections in May 2020. During that time decisions about staffing and headquarters are likely to be made.

Corby Council is the first to discuss the unitary issue following the Secretary of State’s direction. He has decided to scrap Northamptonshire County Council after a damning inspection report by Max Caller last month.

This comes after a series of critical reports and the council declaring itself on the verge of bankruptcy earlier this year. Two government commissioners are expected to come in and run NCC by the end of this month.