Northampton Borough Councillors call extraordinary meeting to urgently discuss unitary authority

Council leader Jonathan Nunn, Labour's Danielle Stone and Anamul Haque, Liberal Democrat Sally Beardsworth, and Conservative councillorPhil Larratt all signed the letter calling for the meeting.
Council leader Jonathan Nunn, Labour's Danielle Stone and Anamul Haque, Liberal Democrat Sally Beardsworth, and Conservative councillorPhil Larratt all signed the letter calling for the meeting.

An extraordinary Northampton Borough Council meeting has been called to discuss the proposal for a unitary authority, which has cross-party support among the council's membership.

The meeting has been called via a letter signed by council leader Jonathan Nunn (Con, Nene Valley), Labour's Danielle Stone (Castle) and Anamul Haque (Castle), Liberal Democrats Sally Beardsworth (Kingsthorpe), and Conservative councillor Phil Larratt (East Hunsbury).

Local governments in the county have been given a July 27 deadline to submit opinions and suggestions on Northamptonshire's future political make-up, and the borough wants to discuss its options at an extraordinary meeting because the next full council meeting on June 4 will be too late given the deadline.

Ahead of the June 4 meeting the council wants to raise awareness of unitary proposals and the benefits of a unitary, as well as seeks the support of residents, institutions, businesses and the voluntary sector within the town for a unitary authority for Northampton on a wider boundary.

It also wants to invite James Brokenshire, the new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, so he can "personally be made aware of the cross-party support, the case for a unitary Northampton and can be shown around our town".

The town's MPs are also invited to a similar cross-party meeting with the authority.

Northampton Borough Council members hope to create an online consultation so that town residents can express their views on unitary proposals, and arrange public meetins for the same purpose.

In an interview with the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) this week, Mr Brokenshire gave his thoughts on local government reorganisation, and said not only was there scope for more unitaries in the country but that he wanted to engage with councils to talk restructuring proposals.

“There is a clear space and scope for unitary authorities," Mr Brokenshire told LGC.

"Obviously it is seeing where there is a need for that and yes, there are proposals on the table that my predecessor had been considering and I will now be looking at.

“It’s [looking at] how we are best able to deliver quality, sustainable services for local government and the best model for doing that.

“There are different challenges between the different tiers of authorities under the current construct and where a unitary structure may make sense."

He added: “But obviously I am looking closely at the sustainability of local government moving forward and where devolution and unitary authorities can seek to make a difference then I do want to advance that agenda.”