Calls for transparency as Northants moves forward with unitary process

One Angel Square in Northampton
One Angel Square in Northampton

Politicians are calling for transparency as Northamptonshire’s council leaders begin 18 months of talks to thrash out the details of how the new unitary councils will run.

With today’s (Friday) two-unitary bid being submitted to the secretary of state, the countdown to unitary governance from May 2020 has now begun.

Leaders from Northamptonshire’s eight councils will start meeting from next week to begin the mammoth task of reorganising the current borough and county council system into two super councils.

Jobs, delivery of services, council headquarters, redundancy, assets and liabilities of each of the councils are just some of the matters which will need to be dealt with.

Each council has initially agreed a collective sum of £4 million to help with the bid and it is thought that teams of consultants and central government staff will aid existing staff to come up with some suggestions.

So far unitary talks have involved just the eight council leaders and their council chief executives but now that the bid has been submitted, councillors who are not at the discussion table are asking for more information and the opportunity to scrutinise.

County councillor and Kettering borough councillor Mick Scrimshaw said: “If collectively in Northamptonshire we can learn one thing from what has happened at the county council it should be that there needs to be more transparency.

“If we are only told the result of the conversations that is going to be tricky for councillors to scrutinise.”

The councillor has called for regular updates from each of the councils, a call which has been echoed by Corby Labour councillor Mark Pengelly who has requested a running tally on the funds being spent by each council for the transition to unitaries.

Lib Dem county councillor Chris Stanbra also said he would have liked more information from the meetings held this week about what the next steps include.