What is Corby Town Council, who's going to run it and why is it being set up?
The new town authority comes into being in five days
Corby waved farewell to its local council this week, and the borough as we know it will cease to exist. It will become a part of North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) after a long process that will see two unitary authorities running the county.
Most of the services run by Northamptonshire County Council, which included roads, education, and social services, and those run by Corby Borough Council, which included parks, planning, cemeteries, leisure and housing, will now all be run by the new NNC.
Many people on social media have questioned the need for a new town council that has been set up for Corby.
So why do we need a town council, and what is it actually going to do?
What's the point of having a town council?
The town council will provide an official voice for the area during consultations with the new NNC and will have the town's interests at its heart. It will be consulted (although will not make decisions) on planning issues and will be able to act as an organised, official body that will represent the views of local people and fight for those views to be heard at a higher level. It can also help develop hyper-local services. If Corby doesn't set one up, the government could impose a temporary charter trust on the town.
What powers will it have?
It will have the same powers as all of the existing town and parish councils in Northamptonshire. At the beginning of April, the town council will have all of Corby's allotments turned over to it. It is hoped more assets could be transferred in the future. Other town councils around the country also oversee play areas, cemeteries, flower-planting and put on special events like bonfires and galas. It will also appoint the mayor every year and will have a pot of money to hand out as grants to community groups.
What area will it cover?
It won't cover the whole of the former borough of Corby because that will cease to exist. It will serve a community of around 43,000 people who live in the new wards of Corby West, Kingswood, Oakley and Lloyds. It will have its own standing orders, which are the written rules it will follow. All the wards will have four councillors apart from Lloyds which will have five.
What's it costing us?
There is a precept added to everyone's council tax to pay for the town council. This means a Band A property will pay £12.47 and a Band D will pay £18.70 per year. The council's annual budget for 2021/22 will be £293,800 including £25,000 to put on special events in the town which might include the annual fireworks celebrations. £60,000 of its budget is likely to be placed in reserves and £10,000 will be used for small grants to community organisations.
When will it start?
Technically the town council will start to operate from April 1, but because of purdah (the period before an election) the council will not meet until after May 6. On this day, elections will take place in many places across the country for councillors of all types, including NCC and Corby Town Council and then the town council's first meeting will take place soon afterwards.
Who's going to run it?
Because the council officially starts next Thursday before elections, a set of unelected councillors has had to be put in place in case any emergency meetings have to happen. These councillors are Peter McEwan, Kevin Watt, Alison Dalziel, Alexandra Wellings, Ray Beeby, Bob Eyles, Lawrence Ferguson, Anthony Dady, John McGhee, Julie Riley and Matt Keane. However, they are unlikely to ever meet and so a set of new councillors will be elected on May 6. There will be 17 councillors overall and they will be elected every four years.
Are they getting paid?
No. There is a budget for a full-time paid role for the employed town clerk, and a part-time role for a financial officer, but councillors themselves will receive no allowance. There will be a small budget of £2,000 for the year to pay for expenses for the town council chair and vice chair
What will it own?
The Corby Cube and all other borough-owned buildings will transfer to NNC but the town council will be given an office on the fourth floor of the cube at a peppercorn rent on a five-year lease. It will also take charge of civic regalia including the mayoral and deputy mayoral chains, badges of office, robes, hats, jabots and gloves, plus the mayor's consort's chain and badge of office. It will also hold the chief executive's robe and hat and the mace and sword of Corby Borough Council.
What about special events?
Corby's Highland Gathering, the carnival and events like the Grow Festival are run by their own committees and organisations and there are currently no plans for this to change. However, in other areas of the country, many third tier councils run fetes, seasonal markets, fairs, and other community events.
There is still time to stand for election for the town council. Nominations close at 4pm on April 8. Contact the elections office on 01536 464012 to find out more.