Six of seven Northamptonshire districts agree unitary plan

All but one of Northamptonshire’s councils has agreed to put forward to the government a plan to split the county into two unitary authorities.

In voting last week Corby Borough Council – the only Labour controlled authority in the county – was the sole opponent of the proposal.

It was though approved, in some cases reluctantly, by the other Conservative councils, meaning it will go to communities secretary James Brokenshire to decide.

The unitary split grew out of recommendations by Max Caller, the inspector sent in by the government after Northamptonshire County Council issued a rare s114 notice restricting spending after a financial crisis engulfed it earlier this year.

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Under the proposal a new West Northamptonshire Council would cover Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire and a North Northamptonshire Council would comprise Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough.

Corby leader Tom Beattie, said: “From holding our own consultation it was clear that a unitary authority was not an option that the people of Corby nor the borough council willingly wanted to be part of.”

The council has though agreed to participate in talks about forming the new authorities to safeguard its area’s interest in any reorganisation.

All the other councils backed the unitary plan, though some with reservations. South Northamptonshire leader Ian McCord said last month: “Let me make it crystal clear – I am beyond angry that we have been bounced into this position, all following Northamptonshire County Council’s financial crisis.  

"My heart wants desperately to join the protests against this way forward, but my head recognises that something has to be done.”

Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn said: “It was not the borough council’s choice to commence this process, but it is here, and we believe we must make sure that we are closely involved and able to shape it to get the best possible services and value for residents of Northampton, and for all residents of West Northamptonshire.”

Mr Brokenshire must now decide whether the reorganisation will proceed.

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