Councils in Northamptonshire have been given an extra year to prepare for the biggest shake-up of local government since the 1970s. Today, James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) gave his thumbs up to proposals which will see the number of councils providing services to the district reduced from eight to two.
South Northamptonshire Council (SNC), Daventry District Council, Northampton Borough Council and (half of) Northants County Council will form a new authority serving the west of the county. It will now take charge in April 2021 rather than 2020 as originally proposed.
Cllr Ian McCord, Leader of SNC said: “I welcome the decision from Government at long last. Ministers have taken twice as long to read and decide on the proposal as they gave us to put the bid together. The election of the shadow council and a 2021 start date was something I asked MHCLG to consider a year ago, so I cannot now claim disappointment.
“We will now use the time wisely to prepare the four councils for the new unitary structure in the West. Our experience with Cherwell and South Northants integration tells us that the best way to do this is by bringing everyone with you. We have been developing a plan for this scenario over the past few weeks and we will be ready. We now must seize the opportunities that a new council will present to us.
“The reasons for this decision are well known and today is about looking forward and ensuring that our residents get the best possible local government available.”
The announcement includes confirmation that the elections to run the new bodies will take place in May 2020, alongside the delayed Parish and Town Council elections. Those elected in 2020 will form the Shadow Authority for its final year of planning, and then move over to run the new council proper.
The announcement also paves the way for Kettering Borough Council, The Borough Council of Wellingborough, East Northants Council, Corby Borough Council and (the other half of) Northants County Council to form a new local authority serving the north of the county.
The formation of the authorities is still subject to Parliamentary approval. The Government will also be establishing a Children’s Trust to take over responsibility for children’s social care across the authority.
Today’s announcement also confirmed that elections for the new West Northants council (and its shadow council) will be on the basis of three members per existing County Council ward, totalling 93 across the 31 Wards in the West Northants area.