'We need control of our own borders': Northampton Borough Council's battle cry for town to have it's own unitary authority

Leader of the borough council Jonathan Nunn, says Northampton needs to have its own unitary authority.
Leader of the borough council Jonathan Nunn, says Northampton needs to have its own unitary authority.

All three parties on Northampton Borough Council have called for the town to have it's own unitary authority in a move certain to lead to a lengthy battle between the Guildhall and County Hall.

On Monday night the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems voted in favour of a cross-party motion opposing the county council's plans for a Northamptonshire-wide unitary.

Some estimates suggest £29 million a year could be saved by having just one authority tasked with all public services from bin collection to adult social care.

But the borough has set out its stall demanding the county is divided into two - one council covering Northampton only and another council covering the rest of the county.

The joint motion last night read: "This council rejects Northamptonshire County Council's plan for a single county-wide local authority, believing it essential that local government remains local.

"Making government more remote would decrease accountability and public engagement."

Councillors at the Guildhall approved a cross-party motion to see Northampton have its own unitary authority.

Councillors at the Guildhall approved a cross-party motion to see Northampton have its own unitary authority.

Leader of the council, Councillor Jonathan Nunn (Con, Nene Valley) said: "We need control of our town because we know best.

"Issues specific to our town will be very different to places like Brackley and other parts of the county."

But he said that the Government is only likely to give funding to areas where there is agreement over the shape a new unitary arrangement will take.

"There isn't an agreement across our boundary," he said. "Daventry and South Northants may (also) not immediately want to go along with this."

Northamptonshire County Council thinks the county would be best served by one single council looking after all areas of public service.

Northamptonshire County Council thinks the county would be best served by one single council looking after all areas of public service.

Borough councillor Phil Larratt, (Con, East Hunsbury) who has recently been de-selected from his county council seat, was keen to stick the boot into his soon-to-be former Tory colleagues at County Hall.

"What the county council is proposing is ridiculous," he said.

"How can a county-wide unitary be local to people in Oundle and to people in Middleton Cheney?"

And he added: "Let us control our own destiny, let the people of Northampton control their own destiny."

Labour Councillor Arthur McCutcheon, one of the motion's proposers, said any move to make Northampton a unitary would need to increase the current borders to take in new development areas, such as Grange Park.

But the move by Northampton Borough Council puts it directly at odds with County Hall.

Earlier in the day in an interview with the Chronicle & Echo, cabinet member for adult social care at Northamptonshire County Council Bill Parker was adamant a single unitary authority was the only way forward.