Northamptonshire unitary councils decision expected at end of March

Corby Council was the only one of the county's eight councils to vote against changing the two-tier local government system.
Corby Council was the only one of the county's eight councils to vote against changing the two-tier local government system.

The Government should announce its Northamptonshire unitary decision at the end of March, council documents have revealed.

The timing of the decision means that all eight councils in the county will have to set their budgets for next year while still in the dark as to whether they will be abolished in May 2020.

The Government is in the middle of a consultation about the unitary proposal which it suggested should be the way forward following the financial failings of Northamptonshire County Council last year. The consultation which is taking in the views of residents and organisations will end on January 25.

Meanwhile preparations are taking place for two new unitary councils for West and North Northamptonshire with council leaders and senior officers coming up with plans for how services could be run.

Kettering Council’s draft budget papers released this week say: “Discussions with government officials indicate that a final decision is likely to take place around the end of March 2019, meaning that all the local authorities in the county will have to set their individual budgets for 2019/20, prior to any decision being made.

“Clearly, members of all local authorities in the county need to be aware of this major impending decision when considering their council’s budget, however at the present time it doesn’t alter their statutory duties in budget setting.”

All councils apart from Corby reluctantly put forward a proposal in August asking Government to consider unitary status for Northamptonshire.

Corby Council said no to the plan after carrying out its own consultation with residents. The authority is now set to call on central government to delay the proposed 2020 date and take a longer time to make the change.

It says a quick implementation risks leading to service disruption and an unsuccessful handover.