Northamptonshire local authorities welcome deadline extension

Local authority leaders and chief executives are pleased that the Government has granted an extension to the deadline for new local government proposals in Northamptonshire.

Published: Thursday, 17th May 2018

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, has allowed a further four weeks for this preliminary work to take place.

A single proposal is expected from the eight local authorities across the county and the new submission deadline of the end of August, will allow the proposal to be worked up in more detail before going out to consultation.

A detailed project plan for the consultation that will take place is currently being developed. The intention is to run this during June and into July and the proposed activity will include telephone interviews and focus groups with a representative sample of residents, plus workshops with partners, businesses and town and parish councils.

Cllr Ian McCord, Leader of South Northamptonshire Council, said: “The government has invited the councils to present proposals for the reorganisation of local government and have presented us with a set of guidelines which must be adhered to, which means two unitaries is the only option.

“The extension to August for the submission of a proposal is still an incredibly tight time frame; however the extra time will allow us talk to more people and understanding and explain the current challenges in more detail. That way we will have greater confidence in our proposal.

“We also welcome and encourage reasonable public debate on the topic, but residents should be prepared to register their opinion officially when our consultation takes place in the near future.”

Early in 2018, the Government sent inspector Max Caller to scrutinise Northamptonshire County Council’s financial management.  His conclusion was that there had been extensive failures and the best solution would be to unite the two tiers of local government, creating unitary councils.

He went on to suggest two would be best, one for north Northamptonshire (Corby, Kettering, East Northamptonshire and Wellingborough) and one for the west of the county (Northampton, Daventry and South Northamptonshire).

In March, the then Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, invited local authority chiefs to propose a new unitary model and guidance issued shortly thereafter set out a range of criteria.

It is important to note that the consultation undertaken will follow strict guidelines to ensure objectivity and a fair and representative cross-section of views, and to preserve people’s anonymity where necessary.