Northampton's parks and historic buildings may be managed by another council after unitary changes

Dallington Park
Dallington Park

The proposed unitary council that would cover Northampton may not look after parks and landmarks when it is formed.

Councillors are discussing whether a town council for Northampton might take on responsibilities for our parks, historic buildings, and even key festivals like the Balloon Festival and annual fireworks display.

It comes after the 540 people who responded to the Northampton Life Survey picked out parks, heritage, town traditions, libraries and the Market Square as their most important elements of the town.

Christmas activities, civic events, the annual fireworks display and public art trails were also considered to be significant, alongside independent events such as the Umbrella Fair and the Balloon Festival

It has prompted borough councillors to consider forming a Northampton Town Council and "ensure the preservation of town traditions."

Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of the Borough Council, said: “Now that Northampton is likely to become part of a much larger council, it’s vital that we consider what matters to residents in terms of events, assets and wider traditions, so we ran this survey to help us inform the possible development of a town council."

Fifty-six per cent of survey respondents felt that the local assets currently owned by the borough council should be managed by Town and Parish Councils.

Councillor Nunn said: "This gives us a good indication that a Northampton Town Council would be well supported, and that we should consider how it might manage certain key assets.

“Parish and Town councils often excel at providing further local amenities for residents, and as all areas in Daventry and South Northamptonshire are already served by such councils, we need to give our communities the option to choose if they want the same model and ensure that it is cost effective.

“We absolutely want the things that are special about Northampton to be retained and managed at a local level, and it’s also important that we continue to provide targeted support to our community groups and the voluntary sector in the future.”

Questions in the survey also asked for opinions on the new unitary authority.

'West Northamptonshire Council' was the most popular suggestion for the name of the new council, while 'Northamptonshire West Council' and 'Northampton and West Northamptonshire Council' were second and third respectively.

In terms of how the new unitary council should be led, almost eight in 10 respondents said they would prefer for all councillors to have the chance to feed into decisions through a Committee system, as opposed a small executive board or cabinet system.

People also called for the retention of a town centre based office providing face-to-face support, having local councillors responsible for and accountable to a manageable number of residents, and area planning decisions being made at a local level.