New Northampton Town Council has opportunity to achieve success working across political divide

The council has no statutory powers and will take over the running of the town's events such as festivals and all the civic events such as Remembrance Sunday and Armed Forces Day

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 11:17 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 11:22 am
Jane Birch (front middle) and five of the new Labour members of Northampton Town Council.

It's the largest town council in England and now has an opportunity to achieve success working across the political divide in Northampton

Elections to the new Northampton Town Council were held on Saturday (May 7) with the Labour Party winning 17 seats, the Conservatives seven seats and the Liberal Democrats one seat.

The council will have four committees made up of Labour councillors and those from the other parties.

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There will be 14 councillors sitting on the policy and finance committee, 12 on the planning committee, 12 on the community services committee and 12 on the environmental services committee.

There will be two full time and two part time staff using part of the Guildhall as office space.

The council has no statutory powers and will take over the running of the town's events such as festivals and all the civic events such as Remembrance Sunday and Armed Forces Day. It also has responsibility for cemetaries and allotments and the mayoralty.

Councillor Jane Birch was appointed leader of the town council at a meeting last night (Monday) after six years as a borough councillor.

Councillor Les Marriott was appointed as deputy leader.

Councillor Birch said: "We don't want to make this a highly political system. We all have an interest in the town, we all have an interest in working together, working in our communities and making things better for residents.

"We have limited resources, it doesn't involve children services, adult social care, all of these big political issues, education, so there isn't a great deal of difference in our aims.

"How we get there, we may have robust discussions, but I can't see that, as long as we achieve best value for our residents, as long as we achieve a good outcome for our residents, there shouldn't be a huge political debate about every single decision that is made.

"Everyone is represented, everyone has an equal say. There isn't anybody who has a higher level of decision making than anybody else really."

She went on to say: "Around the big political ideas, I don't think there will be that kind of conflict.

"And I think generally people see this as an opportunity to break down some of those barriers.

"Everyone is very excited to enhance the heritage, to enhance the mayoralty, to bring on board the civic society.

"All these people, sports clubs, they all want to be, working together, to improve the perception that people have of Northampton because it is amazing.

"The architecture and the history and the heritage of Northampton is something that we don't appreciate enough and I think that makes people proud of where they are, proud of where they live and proud of their heritage."

And in terms of the council creating history, councillor Birch said: "I am incredibly excited about it.

"A little bit daunted because I think the foundations we lay now are going to set the standards that we want to achieve and the ambition and the vision that we have actually shared and owned by everyone in the town.

"All the stakeholder groups, all the community groups, all the voluntary organisations, we all have to have this same vision of where we want to be short-term, medium-term, long-term and how we want to work together."