Any bids to buy or sell off big assets to be ‘assessed’ by shadow council

A new ‘agreement’ has been reached that will see the new shadow council for West Northamptonshire assess any bids from the existing councils to buy or sell off big-money assets.

By James Averill
Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 5:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 5:38 pm
The three councils will effectively merge to become one unitary council next spring.
The three councils will effectively merge to become one unitary council next spring.

At their latest virtual executive meeting last week (June 23), leading councillors discussed the need for an ‘agreed approach’ from any council that wishes to buy, sell or transfer any assets with a value of more than £100,000.

If any of the four authorities (Northampton Borough Council, Daventry District Council, South Northamptonshire Council and Northamptonshire County Council) now wishes to do so, it must bring the proposals to a future shadow executive meeting so that the shadow council can assess its long term impact on the new unitary’s finances.

The four councils will be replaced next April by the new West Northamptonshire Council, for which a shadow council is effectively operating behind the scenes ready for launch day next year.

Executive committee member Councillor Phil Larratt asked how this would affect a process that Northampton Borough Council was currently undertaking in transferring a number of parks, open spaces and community centres to the local parish councils.

Theresa Grant, the chief executive for the county council, responded: “Anything that is already planned or has been budgeted for doesn’t fall within this remit. This is for decisions from now.”

The process will focus mainly on capital projects such as new building developments and infrastructure, but would also apply to any newly agreed uses for cash reserves that had not been included in the year start budget.

Speaking after the meeting, the shadow council leader Councillor Ian McCord, said: “A major part of setting up the new West Northamptonshire Council is bringing together assets and finances of the existing councils. It makes sense that we have collective agreement on how these are managed now, in preparation for April next year when the new council goes live.

“It’s important that the four councils continue with the projects already underway and budgeted for, however before starting any new project, the effect on West Northants council is properly considered.”