Unitary bid for Northamptonshire revealed

One Angel Square
One Angel Square

Northamptonshire councils will submit a bid to central government for two unitary authorities - however, the authorities say the new councils will not deliver a cost saving.

Details have been released this afternoon (Friday) about the plan to reorganise local governance in Northamptonshire and scrap its current two tier system and replace it with a unitary system.

All eight Northants councils had been invited by then secretary of state for local government Sajid Javid in May to work together on a bid following the financial failing of Northamptonshire County Council.

The report, commissioned from PWC by all eight councils, says the bid is not being put forward ‘out of a positive ambition for this radical structural change, but instead out of a pragmatic and responsible approach to the Government’s clearly-signalled direction of travel.’

It continues: “We believe that the option that best meets the criteria set out in the then Secretary of State’s invitation on 27 March 2018 is for two councils across Northamptonshire: one in the north to cover the area of four district/borough councils (population: 343.6k) and one in the west to cover the area of the three borough/district councils (population: 402.0k).”

The financial challenges being left by Northamptonshire County Council’s crisis is also recognised.

The report states: “In drawing together our proposal to the Secretary of State, it has become obvious that, whilst local government reorganisation can achieve a level of cost savings, it will not, in itself, lead to the creation of two new sustainable unitary local authorities.

“Indeed, it potentially risks only redistributing the existing financial instability of NCC across two new organisations, unless steps are taken to address the existing cost and income challenges.”

The unitary bid was put out to public consultation with 6,000 responses from across the county.

The report says: “The consultation commissioned by the councils has demonstrated widespread public support for the restructuring of local government in Northamptonshire, although the specific proposal for two unitaries received varying degrees of support.”

The individual councils will now vote on the bid in a series of meetings at the end of August.

A bid  is expected to go into central government on August 31.