Cost of Northamptonshire’s unitary consultation revealed

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The public consultation into the future unitary councils for Northamptonshire is costing county residents at least £155,000.

The Future Northants consultation was launched last week and the eight Northamptonshire councils are seeking people’s views on the proposals for two unitary authorities to come into place in Northamptonshire for May 2020.

One will serve about 402,000 residents in the west of the county and the other will provides services for about 340,000 residents in the north of the county.

The governance restructure is being imposed on the county following a damning Government inspection of Northamptonshire County Council.

After its findings the then Secretary of State for Local Government Savid Javid said the current two tier system in Northamptonshire had to change.

A joint statement released on behalf of the eight councils states: “To ensure the rigour of this process, we have commissioned an independent research company, ORS, to carry out this work on our behalf.

“This work includes online and paper questionnaires, focus groups, representative telephone surveys and stakeholder workshops, so that a thorough range of views can be collected, analysed and fed into the decision-making process.

“A total of £155,000 has been budgeted for this consultation work by ORS.

“There may be other ancillary costs and so the full cost of the consultation will not be known until after the end of the process. Total costs will be divided equally between all eight councils.”

The authorities are also paying PricewaterhouseCoopers to help put together the bid.

The chief executives and elected leaders of all of the eight councils are meeting regularly to thrash out the details of the proposal.

They have until August 31 to put in the bid to central government. Residents have until July 22 to have their say.

The cost of the transition to unitaries has been estimated by the authorities as £22m. They hope that the figure will be reclaimed in savings in the first three years of the running.

Visit www.futurenorthants.gov.uk to take part in the consultation.