Government says yes to two unitary councils for Northamptonshire
Two brand new unitary councils will be established in Northamptonshire on 1st April 2021 (Vesting Day), the Government confirmed. The West Northamptonshire unitary will cover Daventry District, Northampton and South Northamptonshire and the North Northamptonshire unitary will cover Corby, East Northants, Kettering and Wellingborough. The existing district and borough councils and Northamptonshire County Council will all be abolished.
The Secretary of State James Brokenshire has reviewed all the evidence and representations received, and has now decided that replacing the eight councils with two unitary authorities is in the best interests of the residents of Northamptonshire.
Parliamentary Orders will follow later this year and there will be elections to the Shadow Authorities in May 2020. Shadow Executives for the two unitaries will be selected from those elected and will determine the structure, budget and service delivery models for the new councils.
Services which complement one another but are currently divided between the district, borough and county councils, such as bin collections, waste disposal, planning and roads, will be brought together under each of the two unitary councils.
In a joint comment, the council leaders of Corby Borough Council (Tom Beattie), Daventry District Council (Chris Millar), East Northamptonshire Council (Steven North), Kettering Borough Council (Russell Roberts), Northampton Borough Council (Jonathan Nunn), Northamptonshire County Council (Matt Golby), South Northamptonshire Council (Cllr Ian McCord) and Borough Council of Wellingborough (Martin Griffiths), said:
“Now we’ve received the decision to progress with unitary, we will focus our efforts on creating two brand new councils that put the interests of residents at the heart of all decision making. This re-organisation needs to be about transforming how we deliver services so that they are more joined-up and make sense for residents across the county. We have a strong track record of collaborative working with each other and with partners and we will build on this to deliver services that make a positive difference to people’s lives.
“These new councils will also be major players in delivering the housing and jobs growth that Northamptonshire and the Cambridge to Oxford arc so badly need.”
“We have been working hard towards an anticipated 2020 Vesting Day but that was always going to be a tight timetable to meet if we were going to transform services as well as ensuring that they were safe and legal on that date.
“We therefore welcome the announcement that Vesting Day will be 1st April 2021. That gives us more time to plan carefully and confidently for the future to ensure that we create two sustainable unitary councils that, while being very different in nature, will be exemplars of how to provide excellent services for our residents.”
Daventry District Council Leader Councillor Chris Millar said: “We are pleased to have received the Secretary of State’s formal decision which means we can all now focus fully on delivering these two new unitary councils in readiness for an April 2021 start.
“We are under no illusions as to the very tight timelines involved and the huge amount of work still to be undertaken to deliver these two new authorities. However we see a wonderful opportunity to embrace wider public sector reform by including the local health organisations as part of a package to deliver better services for our residents. Rest assured that Daventry District Council, while it still exists, will do all it can to influence the creation of the new West Northamptonshire Unitary Council in the best interests of our residents.”
There will be elections to the Shadow Authorities in May 2020, so those newly-elected councillors will be able to work with officers to design and implement the new councils for several months ahead of Vesting Day.