Discussions over the formation of a potential new town council for Northampton is set to move to the next stage.
The reorganisation of local government, which has now been confirmed by Westminster, will see the county council and seven district and borough councils in Northamptonshire abolished in 2021 to make way for two new unitary authorities.
But the proposals have been met with a lukewarm reception from Northampton Borough Council, which officially backed the submission to the Government but did so reluctantly.
As a result, it has been looking at the potential of forming a new town council to replace the borough council, which would retain the town's heritage and civic artefacts, as well as potentially taking on the running of some services.
Research carried out by Opinion Research Services (ORS) has helped inform the next round of consultation, which has now ruled out the option of not forming a town council.
Instead, the final two options will see either a town council cover the whole of Northampton where no parish councils currently exist, or a new town council formed for the centre of Northampton.
In his monthly written report, borough council deputy leader Councillor Phil Larratt said: “We have now received the report of our consultants on the first round of consultation regarding setting up a town council and possibly some further community (parish) councils.
“Ruling out the do-nothing option, the working group is proposing that two options be taken forward to the next round of consultation.”
He also reveals that there have been two formal requests for parish councils. One submission is by Duston Parish Council to extend its boundaries, and the other from the Whitehills & Spring Park Residents Association (WASPRA) is to create a new parish council, currently title as Kingsthorpe Parish Council.
Councillor Larratt adds: “Our established parish councils are continuing to show interest in taking on NBC assets in their individual areas. These are still being progressed following the adoption of policy last October supporting and favouring the freehold transfer of such assets.”
The research from ORS suggested that the main reason people backed the town council proposals were that it would retain decision-making at a local level, preserve the town’s historic identity and that it would give the town a ‘strong voice’ within the new local government structure.
But some residents feared that a town council could potentially lead to unaffordable council tax rises, 'unnecessary bureaucracy' and would be ‘money for old rope’ if it was mostly made up of existing NBC councillors.
It is thought the next consultation will be a larger exercise lasting for a minimum of six weeks, and should be completed by the end of July.