Government promises Northampton's history and heritage will be preserved in unitary shake-up
The Government has given ‘assurances’ that Northampton’s mayoralty and heritage will not be lost in the local government reorganisation.
It was finally announced yesterday (May 14) that Northampton Borough Council will be dissolved in April 2021, when it will be replaced with a new unitary council that will also serve the Daventry and South Northamptonshire districts.
Since the proposals were submitted to Government last summer, Northampton councillors have been keen to highlight their desire that the town preserves its identity, heritage and traditions.
A borough council scrutiny panel has called for Northampton’s mayoralty, which dates back almost 800 years, to be preserved either in the new unitary council, or as part of a new town council that may yet be formed specifically at the Guildhall.
The committee met for the final time on Monday, just a day before the unitary proposals were given the green light by Secretary of State James Brokenshire.
Committee chairman Cllr Brian Sargeant, who will this week become deputy mayor, said: “This has been about protecting the mayoralty and the traditions of the borough. There has been so much volunteer time that has gone into this, and that’s because we must protect our heritage.”
And it looks as if those assurances have now been given. Rishi Sunak MP, a minister for local government, said: “Where districts and boroughs are being abolished the Government has been clear that we will protect any historic rights in those areas, such as Northampton.
“I have had positive discussions with Northampton North MP Michael Ellis who is passionate about preserving Northampton’s heritage and I am happy to give assurances on this matter.”
Mr Ellis added: “Protecting Northampton’s age-old history and identity is important in ensuring the town’s traditions are in place for future generations.”
The borough scrutiny report also calls for the town's four ceremonial maces (called North, South, East and West) to be retained in Northampton’s Museum and that all silver assets are made secure. The main one is used in council meetings and is worth up to £250,000.
Finally, it recommends the introduction of the roles of Major’s Serjeant and Town Serjeant, as honorary roles which could be taken up by an Alderman or former councillor.
The report will be agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, before being presented to cabinet for them to act upon.