Northants unitary reorganisation 'unpredictable' as parliament dissolves

The reorganisation of Northamptonshire’s local government system will be decided by a new parliament after the Bill to abolish the existing authorities did not make it on to the statute books this week.

By Sarah Ward
Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 4:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 4:53 pm
The reorganisation would see notorious Northamptonshire County Council abolished and two new councils created to provide  county.
The reorganisation would see notorious Northamptonshire County Council abolished and two new councils created to provide county.

There were some suggestion the Bill could have been decided as part of the wash-up business, where Bills in progress are made law.

But the structural change order, which wad officially laid in parliament on October 28th, was not made ratified and so now will be decided in the next parliament and potentially by a new political leadership.

Labour’s shadow local government minister Andrew Gwynne has said he is in favour of a separate unitary for Northampton, which could put the cat among the pigeons.

All councils, expect Corby, agreed to the unitary reorganisation last spring after government ordered the unitary restructure was considered. The only viable option according to the Conservative government was for two unitiaries, but many in Northampton have argued for their own unitary council.

Mick Scrimshaw, leader of the labour opposition at Kettering Council, says the situation is now unpredictable.

He said: “Unitary as a prinicple is not one I am against. However, I have always been concerned that as we have been doing it to the government’s timetable it is being rushed and then therefore we might not get the benefits we could have got if this was our decision.

“I would certainly support a short review.”

Any change to the plans for unitary reorganisation would undoubtedly have a financial implication.

It is estimated the cost of shutting down the eight councils and creating two new ones – one for the north and another for the west – will cost £43m.

So far millions have been pledged by the borough councils and county council to make the necessary changes to restructure.

Currently dozens of new staff are being appointed and seconded from existing roles to be part of the transformation team.

Chief executive of Daventry Council Ian Vincent has said publicly on a number of occasions said the unitary reorganisation was being done at risk.

The general election has also put a spanner in the works for a public meeting about unitary in the north of the county next week. A meeting was due to be held at East Northamptonshire Council by the joint committee overseeing the move to unitary, but this has now been cancelled.