No plans for Northamptonshire north unitary joint committee to meet yet

The offices at East Northamptonshire Council's headquarters in Thrapston.
The offices at East Northamptonshire Council's headquarters in Thrapston.

The committee being set up to deal with unitary matters for north Northamptonshire will not meet until the secretary of state has made a decision.

Despite the formal joint committee for west Northamptonshire meeting for the first time in public next week (March 26) , the north joint committee will not and so until that time only the leaders and chief executives of the councils will meet to talk about the unitary transition.

These meetings are held in private compared to the joint committee meetings which would allow in members of the public.

The north committee will be made up of 15 councillors from across the four borough and district councils in the area including three councillors from the county council.

This board will make recommendations on areas such as the constitution of the new authority and will eventually be replaced by a shadow authority.

This body will set the council budget next spring for the new unitary, which is expected to be created in April 2020.

The secretary of state for local government James Brokenshire is expected to make a decision before the end of this month. The county is being led towards a unitary form of governance following a damning report about Northamptonshire County Council by government inspector Max Caller, who found the authority was not providing best value and should be scrapped.

Corby councillor Kevin Watt who will be sitting on the committee said: “I think it would be better if the new joint committee met sooner rather than later so that everybody is in the picture.”

Some concern was caused last month when a consultant appointed to look at the costs of unitary suggested that instead of £30m it would more likely be £44m to implement the two new unitary councils.

The transition is thought by many councillors to be being done on too tight a timescale.