Independent review set up to investigate future unitary authorities in Northamptonshire

Gv's of Northampton Town Centre.
County Hall. NNL-140730-154759001

Gv's of Northampton Town Centre. County Hall. NNL-140730-154759001

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An independent review of options for a unitary authority in Northamptonshire is to be started, it has been announced.

Northamptonshire County Council has instigated the review of the current two-tier system following calls from all seven Conservative MPs and oppisition councillors.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for changes for years but the move has never before received Government support.

Today, the county council announced it wants to see an independent assessment of council structures in the county to see what options would work best.

The council will now work with the University of Northampton and will employ internationally leading governance and economic experts to assess the options and advise on the best way forward.

Leader of the council, Councillor Harker, said: “What is obvious is that the current structure of local government is certainly not a picture of efficiency. There is clear duplication of activity.

“We have to ask ourselves as a county do we really need eight chief executives costing more than £1m between them? Does this one county really need more councillors than there are MPs serving the whole of the UK?

“We need to be honest with ourselves as a sector about these issues.

“However this is not simply about how local councils are set up in isolation of all the other changes which are taking place. Rather the issue is about the complete transformation of public services which is currently underway and what structures of local government work most effectively and efficiently alongside this.”

Deputy leader of the council, Councillor Heather Smith, said: “At this stage we don’t want any options off the table.

“We want a full, frank and honest review of the issues and an independent recommendation into what the best form of governance would be for the county as we continue driving forward the national agendas of integrating health and social care, creating new social enterprises to deliver front line services, creating regional strategic transport planning structures while considering the opportunities there are for devolved powers from government.

“We want to work with our colleagues in the district and borough councils and are hopeful they will join us in the work to explore the best options for the residents of the county.”

Details of the authors of the review will be announced in the coming weeks and It is expected that they will report back to council in June.