Northamptonshire councils given extension for new unitary proposals

Cllr Steven North NNL-160520-102139001
Cllr Steven North NNL-160520-102139001

Councils in Northamptonshire have been given an extra four weeks to form new unitary authority proposals.

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP, has extended the submission deadline to the end of August.

A single proposal is expected from local authorities across the county and the extension will allow the proposal to be worked up in more detail before going out to consultation.

A detailed project plan for the consultation that will take place is currently being developed.

The intention is to run this during June and into July and the proposed activity will include telephone interviews and focus groups with a representative sample of residents, plus workshops with partners, businesses and town and parish councils.

Cllr Steven North, leader of East Northamptonshire Council, said: “It will be interesting to hear people’s views but it is also important to note that we will only be able to take account of the feedback that we receive through the formal consultation process in formulating our final proposal.

“We will be publicising that process soon and encourage everyone to participate.”

Early in 2018, the Government sent inspector Max Caller to scrutinise Northamptonshire County Council’s financial management.

His conclusion was that there had been extensive failures and the best solution would be to unite the two tiers of local government, creating unitary councils.

He went on to suggest two would be best, one for north Northamptonshire (Corby, Kettering, East Northamptonshire and Wellingborough) and one for the west of the county (Northampton, Daventry and South Northamptonshire).

In March, the then Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, invited local authority chiefs to propose a new unitary model.

Cllr Martin Griffiths, leader of Wellingborough Council, said: “As local politicians, we are always interested in the opinion of our residents and even more so in these times of uncertainty and change.

“That’s why it’s important that this consultation captures not only the views of our key partners, but those of the people we represent.”

He added: “What is clear is that local voice is important to everyone and must be listened to.”

Leader of Corby Council, Cllr Tom Beattie, said: “Since the very beginning we have been very clear here in Corby that consultation with our residents is a must, this is their services and their money so they need to have their say. “Along with a countywide consultation we will also be undertaking our own Corby borough consultation to ensure we get the highest possible feedback from our communities which will help us with the final proposals.

“Details of both consultations will be finalised soon and we urge everyone to get involved and have their say on the future of their local services.”