Councillors in Daventry will be given a ‘free vote’ and not be pressured by party whips when they vote on whether to back proposals to create a new unitary authority.
Papers have now been published which will see the county’s seven district and borough councils vote on whether to submit a proposal for two new unitary authorities to replace them.
Daventry would form part of a West Northamptonshire authority with South Northamptonshire Council and Northampton Borough Council. It is this proposal that the government has effectively been pushing for creation in 2020.
South Northamptonshire Council leader Ian McCord has already said he is ‘beyond angry’ at the proposal, but was backing it with ‘huge regret’ because it was the only way the authority would be present at the decision making table.
His Daventry District Council counterpart Chris Millar is proving to be more coy ahead of the council’s meeting to vote on the proposal next Thursday (August 30), but has previously recorded his ‘concerns’ at the proposals.
Councillor Millar said he would express these views to ministers after a Labour motion calling on the council to register its ‘dismay’ at being forced to form the unitary authority was rejected and dubbed ‘premature’.
But Daventry councillors are however being given free rein to vote with their own conscience rather than being told to toe the line by party whips.
This week, Councillor Millar said: “We will be discussing the bid at the meeting next week, and I don’t want to pre-empt anything.
“But we will not be using whips, this will be a free vote going forward for councillors in Daventry.
“We want the best for our residents and that’s what we will try and do.”
The new unitary authority, which would serve a population of more than 400,000 people if it is formed in 2020, only needs to be backed by one of the district councils for the Government to consider it as an option.
Many councillors across the county have said that two unitary authorities was ‘the only game in town’ with the specific criteria that had been set by the Government.