Northants County Council halts sale of County hall

County Hall, Northampton
County Hall, Northampton

The sale of County Hall in Northampton has been put on hold and the historic building could now remain as a civic chamber.

Northamptonshire County Council was criticised when it voted to put the Grade ll listed building on the market earlier this year in an attempt to reduce overheads and bring in some much-needed cash.

But now the authority has halted the sale.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “The sale of County Hall has been paused, pending a review of the county council’s estate in light of a move towards the reorganisation of local government in the county.

“County Hall is still currently in use for council meetings, Coroner’s court and IT functions.”

The news has been welcomed by Liberal Democrat county councillor Dennis Meredith who had been so appalled at the proposed sale that he threatened to stage a sleep-in.

He had been part of a group that previously had managed to get a pause on the sale in June but the proposal was eventually voted through by the Conservative-ruled county council.

Cllr Meredith said: “I am delighted that they have decided that County Hall is not for sale. If they do want to give it away they should give it to the borough council and it can become part of the  new museum complex.”

County Hall holds the council chamber as the new £53m headquarters at One Angel Square was built without a chamber within it. It also is used by the coroner for court proceedings and is base to the offices for the various political parties.

It is the second ‘pause’ which has happened since the count’s latest chief executive Theresa Grant has taken over.

Ms Grant halted the closure of 21 of the county’s 36 libraries and has promised some good news for library campaigners in the near future.

The financial failings of Northamptonshire County Council led the Government to order this spring that all of the county’s eight councils vote on scrapping the current two-tier borough and county council system and replace them with a unitary system of governance.

Last week Local Government SecretaryJames Brokenshire started an eight-week consultation and also postponed the May 2019 local elections. If all goes to the intended plan elections to the two new unitaries, one for the North and one for the West, will happen in May 2020.

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service