Northamptonshire unitary bid to be made public tomorrow

The county council offices at One Angel Square
The county council offices at One Angel Square

The proposal to scrap all Northamptonshire’s eight councils and replace them with a unitary system will be made public tomorrow (Friday).

The details of what will be the biggest shake-up of local governance in the past 40 years will be revealed from 3pm.

Results from the countywide consultation, plus the commissioned report from management consultants PWC, will be posted onto all eight council websites.

Council leaders and chief executives from the districts, borough and county council have been meeting for weeks to work out the details of the bid.

It follows an invitation from then Secretary of State for local government Sajid Javid in April to put together a bid for two unitary authorities.

It is thought the proposal will put forward one unitary to govern the north of the county and one to govern the west of the county.

The bid will be voted on by all of the separate councils at meetings held throughout the last week of August and then the bid is due to be submitted to central government on August 31.

Liberal democrat county councillor Chris Stanbra said: “My expectation is that the consultation will not support a two unitary solution for Northamptonshire, as that is all the ‘mood music’ we have been hearing.

“But nevertheless whether the councils decide to submit, the government will impose two unitaries.

“That is obviously not good.”

The guidelines given by central government say that the unitary bid must demonstrate a clear potential for savings, demand a good level of local support, and prioritise the government’s wider housing and growth agenda.

Once the county’s submission is given to central government the secretary of state will decide whether he agrees with the bid.

If so, a request to postpone elections to the borough and parish councils schedule for next May is expected to be made, and the matter will have to go through both houses of Parliament.

Shadow unitary boards will then be created in May 2019 with councillors from each of the eight councils selected to sit on the authority.

It is thought elections to the new unitaries will take place in May 2020.