A new town council for Kettering has now been officially signed off and will come to life in April next year.
The authority, which will be run from the current council offices, will have 20 elected councillors from across the town and initially take responsibility for the markets, allotments and the local plan.
The council will also continue twinning arrangements with Lahnstein in Germany and Falmouth in Jamaica with a £2,000 annual allocation from the yet undecided precept level. The town council will also elect a mayor each year and have a clerk.
The move is part of the shake up of local government in Northamptonshire, which will see all existing borough, district and the county council abolished and replaced with two new unitary councils. Wellingborough has also set up a new town council and Corby has also said it wants to do so.
Leader of Kettering Council Russell Roberts said the new authority would help to hold to account the new unitary council.
He said: “I know from my own experience, the value of town and parish councils. It is important that they provide a voice at a very local level, for local interests, to represent those interests to public service providers, and to help hold to account the new unitary council.
I am also delighted that the Mayoralty of Kettering will continue in this new guise to provide that civic focal point which is a part of Kettering’s history and identity. I wish the new council well.”
The first budget for the town council will be set by the borough council in December and elections will take place alongside the unitary ones in early May 2020. The creation comes after a community governance review and consultation which has also resulted in some boundary changes between Kettering and Barton Seagrave and the boundary of Burton Latimer has been straightened out to follow the line of the A14.
However at the meeting on September 23 to discuss the new town council, Cllr Michael Brown questioned whether a new town council was needed and expressed concerns that there was not a limit to the precept that could be set.
He said: “I think we have just come from a place where we have had a lot of fragmentation of services. We have had two councils and a lot of confusion out there in the public about which council they go to for A and which one they go to for B. We have got this golden opportunity with the unitary authority to bring all the services under one roof, reduce the spending power and reduce the number of councillors and officers and really slimline the authority to be really efficient and easy to use and cheap. What worries me is it we are going to be adding another layer to confuse things.”
The borough council is also making moves to transfer the pre 1974 coat of arms, featuring a griffin and unchained slave ( in a nod to the town’s slave abolitionist William Knibb) to the new town council. The cost of transfer will be around £6,000 as the authority has to apply to the College of Arms for transfer and also will have now digital images of the crest drawn up.