OPINION: Communities secretary gives his views on Northamptonshire's unitary authority proposals

Communities secretary James Brokenshire, the man with the responsibility for local councils, has spoken about his views on the unitary authority bid here in Northamptonshire.
Communities secretary James Brokenshire, the man with the responsibility for local councils, has spoken about his views on the unitary authority bid here in Northamptonshire.

Today marks an important step in improving delivery of local government services for people in Northamptonshire. With support from local authorities, I’m now asking for your views on the councils’ proposals to create two unitary councils to replace county and district councils.

These proposals are part of determined efforts to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

So many of the public services delivered by local authorities – whether it’s providing housing for those in need, caring for the most vulnerable in our communities, or collecting bins to keep our streets clean – are crucial to our everyday lives.

We acted quickly to improve things at Northamptonshire County Council when it became clear that there were serious issues in its governance and financial management.

I appointed an independent inspector, Max Caller, an expert in local government, who recommended that we should intervene and make some big changes.

Government-appointed Commissioners were quickly sent in to stabilise the council. Financial mismanagement was sending it on a dangerous course, risking services for residents.

We had to act to stop this happening and the Commissioners’ work has improved the situation significantly. We recently appointed another Commissioner for Children’s Services in response to concerns raised by the inspection body Ofsted, to help support vulnerable children and families.

One recommendation made by the independent inspector was for local government to reorganise to improve services and set the county on a better track.

I welcomed the productive work of councils to put forward a proposal to me.

Everyone is working to improve things, and this is one of many measures put forward to turn things around.

I’d like to urge you to give your views too. Whether you like the idea, have genuine concerns or have other suggestions, I’d like to hear from you. This will inform my final decision but what I can confidently say is I believe things are looking up – a brighter future is ahead for Northamptonshire.

You can respond to the consultation on Gov.uk here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-proposed-reorganisation-of-local-government-in-northamptonshire