Government appoints South Northants leader Ian McCord to head up new unitary council

South Northamptonshire Council leader Ian McCord has been named as the leader of the new shadow unitary council by the government.
Councillor Ian McCord has been named by the government as the new leader for the shadow West Northamptonshire CouncilCouncillor Ian McCord has been named by the government as the new leader for the shadow West Northamptonshire Council
Councillor Ian McCord has been named by the government as the new leader for the shadow West Northamptonshire Council

Councillor McCord will have Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn serve as his deputy, as the government this afternoon announced the next steps for launching the new council next year.

In April 2021, West Northamptonshire Council will be formed – effectively merging the county council with the district and borough councils in Northampton, Daventry and South Northamptonshire, all of which will be abolished.

And Councillor McCord, who has been leader of SNC since 2015, has landed the top job.

The decision for the government to appoint the leaders of the shadow leaders was slammed as ‘undemocratic’ by some local councillors however – who would normally have made the decision.

During the preparation for the transition to the new unitary, Councillor McCord has served as Deputy Chair of the Leaders’ Oversight Board – which comprises all eight leaders of both the north and west areas of the county. It is one of two groups, along with a Joint Committee for each unitary, that is responsible for helping reform the local government structure.

Westminster has decided to use these governance arrangements to select the leaders and deputy leaders of the two shadow authorities with a term of office from now until May 2021.

It comes after scheduled elections in May to appoint new shadow councillors were postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the shadow council now being made up of the 134 existing district and borough councillors – most of whom will have been in place for six years when the unitary is launched next spring.

The existing councillors will sit on the shadow authorities until April 1, 2021. The elections to the new unitary councils will then place a month later on May 6.

Executive committees for each shadow council will also be established and these will be made up of two representatives from each of the current councils, consisting of the leader plus another councillor.

The West Northamptonshire Council shadow executive – which is effectively the cabinet – will be made up of eight members. The current leader of Northamptonshire County Council, Matt Golby, will sit on the West shadow executive.

A date for the first meeting of the shadow council has yet to be confirmed but will be held virtually.