All seven Tory MPs in Northamptonshire have sent a joint letter to heads of the county’s cash-strapped councils calling for them to discuss forming unitary authorities.
In the light of the recent desire by South Northants Council to form a unitary authority with Cherwell, the MPs say money could be saved by scrapping the current two-tier system in Northamptonshire.
Despite being leader of Northampton Borough himself a year ago, Northampton South MP David Mackintosh, who is also a county council member, has backed the call, saying Northampton Borough Council should be scrapped as part of the Government’s devolution agenda.
He said: “As the local authorities in Northamptonshire are all under considerable financial pressure, all seven of the Members of Parliament feel that now is the time to look at reorganising the county’s local government structures and move towards establishing unitary authorities.
“This will be an exciting opportunity to look at what devolution can deliver for local residents and how we can streamline public services for greater efficiency and make it fit for this century.
“This will mean of course, the abolition of Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council but the long term advantages will far outweigh any short term uneasiness.
“I have discussed this with government ministers and believe this reorganisation will happen, it is just a question of how.”
Currently Northamptonshire is governed by a county council, which looks after things like roads, social care and schools and seven district and borough councils, which collect waste, looks after parks and manage social housing.
A unitary authority would look after all of these things under one roof, which some believe could save the county around £50 million a year.
Previous suggestions have been to separate Northamptonshire into three unitaries, reducing the number of highly paid chief executives by five.
The letter, signed by Peter Bone, Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton-Harris Philip Hollobone, Tom Pursglove, David Mackintosh and Michael Ellis says: “We want councils that can meet the simultaneous challenges of increased demand for services reduced funding and we believe that simplified local government in the form of unitary authorities provides the opportunities to do that.”