New town council for Kettering to be considered

Whether to move forward with a community governance review will be discussed at Kettering Council next week.
Whether to move forward with a community governance review will be discussed at Kettering Council next week.

Kettering Council is looking into the possibility of setting up a new town council.

The idea will be put before councillors sitting on the authority’s new local government review committee next week (Jan 30) and a recommendation could then be put forward for the full council to consider.

A unitary council is expected to be created in May 2020, which will replace the four borough and district councils in the north of the county.

For a town council to be created Kettering Council would need to carry out a community governance review.

The report to be considered by councillors next week says: “Although there has been some interest in the creation of a town council for Kettering as a possible outcome from a community governance review, there are related issues which will need to be addressed, such as the boundaries between Kettering and adjacent parishes, the potential to transfer any civic insignia or regalia, and the “ownership” of the market charter for Kettering town.”

The report says that a community governance review should conclude within 12 months of being agreed.

The move to consider a town council comes after the Conservative-run council decided last month (Dec) not to move forward with the plan. Deputy leader Lesley Thurland said it would be ‘too hasty’.

Independent councillor Jim Hakewill, who had put forward the unsuccessful town council motion last month, said: “It was a shame that my original motion was rejected as we have lost six weeks of getting it started. I really welcome this change of heart and will do all I can to get everybody involved in deciding what our town and parish councils will look like in the future.”

The committee will also consider how best to deal with Kettering borough’s traditional civic functions if a unitary council comes into place.

The report says: “Should the borough council be abolished as part of the current Local Government Review process, then these features will cease to have any more than “museum status” unless steps are taken to preserve their function.”

It adds: “Should a new town council be established and should it decide to establish a mayor, then it would need to develop its own insignia, and possibly seek to re-adopt the coat of arms that the former (pre 1974) Kettering Council had. The physical assets that the mayoralty currently has – the mace, chain, garments and plate – could equally transfer to the new unitary council, which would need to decide what to do with them.”

Wellingborough Council is already quite far down the road towards setting up a town council and Corby Council decided last week to start a community governance review.

A town council could have some services devolved to it and it would have the same powers as a parish council.

Tomorrow (Jan 25) at 11.45pm is the deadline for people to respond to the secretary of state’s consultation about unitary governance for Northamptonshire.