Wellingborough to discuss setting up a new town council

Swanspool House, where Wellingborough Council is based
Swanspool House, where Wellingborough Council is based

Wellingborough Council is proposing to set up a new town council by May next year.

Initial proposals suggest the new town council will have 23 elected councillors representing ten wards and will also have an elected mayor.

The moves are being considered as the borough council looks likely to be abolished as part of government imposed plans to create a unitary system for Northamptonshire.

Wellingborough is the first borough council in North Northamptonshire to officially set out its stall for a town council.

The proposal has come jointly from both Conservative and Labour sides of the borough council.

Cllr Andrew Scarborough, who is leader of the Labour opposition, said: “We want to keep local democracy in the town and establishing a town council is a way of doing so.

“If we were to move from a borough council straight to a unitary authority in 2020 the amount of local elected representatives for Wellingborough would sharply decline and having perhaps five or six people elected to represent a town this size would not be good enough.”

If created, the town council would run alongside the borough council which is set to be wound up in  May 2020.

An extraordinary meeting is being held on Wednesday (May 16) for borough councillors to vote on carrying out a community governance review to create a town council.

They will also vote on the proposal to join with other neighbouring councils to create a bid for a unitary authority to govern North Northamptonshire.

If council members approve the review the next steps will see council officers put together detailed proposals and then a public consultation will take place.

The council report says: “The timetable for the review aims to be completed in time for elections to the town council, if agreed, in May 2019.”

The planned creation of unitary authorities in Northamptonshire has been due to the financial failings of Northamptonshire County Council.

The county authority only just managed to balance its books last month and has just £5 million remaining in reserves.

All eight councils in the county are currently putting together a bid to be decided on by the secretary of state for local government James Brokenshire.

The Government has indicated it would like to see a proposal for two unitary authorities to govern the county, one in the north and one in the West.

Yesterday (Thursday) the Government announced that two part-time commissioners will come in to oversee the running of NCC.

It is likely that the new unitary system will be in place by May 2020.