Weekly meetings taking place as leaders put together unitary plans for Northants

Weekly meetings are taking place as the unitary plan progresses
Weekly meetings are taking place as the unitary plan progresses

Council leaders putting together the unitary plans for Northamptonshire say they will be consulting on various issues over the next 18 months, however there is no seat as yet at the table for the Corby authority.

Meetings are now taking place on a weekly basis as the team of the county’s top local politicians sit down to work out how services will be delivered when the eight existing councils in Northants are replaced by two super councils.

The first meeting was held on September 5 and officials from the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government were present, although Corby Council leader Tom Beattie was absent after the council was the only one to vote no to unitary at the series of votes last month.

A collective statement issued said: “Discussions took place on progressing unitary work, including potential governance arrangements and the likely content of the Structural Change Order, which is a legislative requirement for setting up the new authorities.

“Meetings will be taking place weekly to start the programme of transition to the new unitary authorities and we will issue regular updates on the progress being made.

“We will also be consulting on various issues over the next 18 months to ensure we take everyone’s views into account in designing the new authorities, should the Secretary of State decide in due course to proceed with the proposal.”

The Secretary of State for Local Government James Brokenshire has yet to comment on the joint proposal submitted at the end of August.

The councils were ordered to look at a unitary system for the county after Tory-run Northamptonshire County Council got into a severe financial mess, which saw it run out of funds this Spring.

A spokesman for Corby Council said:  “We have written to the SOS informing him of our decision the day after our council meeting and are awaiting on his response.”

Corby’s involvement was discussed at the first meeting but as yet an invitation to join the talks has not been extended to the county’s only Labour-run council.

It is expected that the minister will consult with Corby Council before making his decision.

The matter will then go through the legislative process and the unitaries are expected to be established in May 2020.