Northampton could get a town council with 'limited powers' when the borough is scrapped in 2020

Councillors are likely to approve plans to set up a town council in Northampton when the borough is scrapped in two years' time.

Thursday, 31st May 2018, 6:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th June 2018, 2:36 pm
Northampton Borough Council, led by Councillor Jonathan Nunn, top left, is set to be scrapped in 2020. In its place, a unitary authority and a town council, which former leader John Dickie, top left, believes will have limited powers.

Northampton Borough Council will discuss the plans for local government reform in Northamptonshire at its next full council meeting on Monday, June 4.

Leaders of the eight councils in the county are working to reduce to just two unitary authorities by 2020 after a government report found the current system was financially unsustainable.

At the meeting, councillors will discuss setting aside £100,000 from Northampton Borough Council's coffers to draw up the plans with the other seven council leaders.

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It is now almost certain that by 2020 Northampton Borough Council and the county council will cease to exist - with the town governed by a West Northamptonshire unitary authority.

The borough will also vote on whether to undertake a "community governance review", which could see the creation of a parish council for the town of Northampton to serve alongside the unitary.

This new town council would "seek to protect the town’s assets and civic traditions", said a borough spokeswoman, including the annual election of a mayor.

The authority says a "significant amount of work" is needed to progress the proposal and a public consultation by the government-set submission deadline, which has recently been extended to August 31.

Former council leader John Dickie believes the town council would have 'limited powers'.

"It would have the same powers as a parish council like Wootton.

"We might have some limited control over planning - but it would be very limited - way lower than that currently held by the borough."

Auditors Pricewaterhousecooper (PWC) are poised to help draw up the proposal, while Opinion Research Services will undertake the consultation.

A programme director has been appointed to coordinate the unitary authority proposals on behalf of the eight local authorities.

Council leader, Councillor Jonathan Nunn, said: “Working towards a proposal for a new unitary council that will replace Northampton Borough Council is not something we would otherwise be asking for.

"However, the firm guidelines set out by the Secretary of State, in his invitation letter following the Best Value Inspection Report, including the requirement to have a population of 300,000 or more, has determined the direction we must take.

“We therefore need to act fast to ensure that the town’s best interests are captured in the draft proposal that we intend to submit by the new deadline in August.

“Although we are pleased to have secured more time, we still only have three months to draft the proposal and consult with the public.

“We feel that the money suggested for this work, which will be allocated from general fund reserves, will allow us to achieve this.”