Prime Minister says legislation for new Northamptonshire councils laid as soon as possible

Prime Minister Theresa May has said today that legislation needed to create two new unitary councils in Northamptonshire will be laid ‘as soon as possible’.

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019, 2:19 pm
Current PM Theresa May says the legislation to allow the creation of two unitary new councils in Northamptonshire will be laid as soon as possible.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the past half hour, Mrs May said that officials have been working on the details of the legislation with the eight Northamptonshire councils that will disband to form a new council in the north and another in the west.

But the PM did not give a definite date for when it would happen. Elections are timetabled for May next year to create two shadow authorities, with the new councils coming into being in April, 2020.

But before that can be done the legal sign-off needs to go through Parliament.

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The Prime Minister made her comments in a response to a question asked by Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer who said residents needed certainty.

She said: “I know it is an important issue of concern in Northamptonshire.

“Subject to Parliamentary approval new authorities will be a significant step to ensuring residents and businesses can in future have the sustainable, high quality local services they deserve.

“Officials are working hard with the eight Northamptonshire councils on the detail of the secondary legislation because that will need to include detail and our aim is to lay the statutory instrument as soon as practical for Parliamentary debate and Parliamentary approval.”

Local government in the county is being reorganised on Government insistence after the financial collapse of the county council.

All of the county’s councils reluctantly voted for the change last summer, apart from Labour-run Corby which wanted to remain as a borough council.

There have already been long delays from ministers, with James Brokenshire declaring in May that the unitary would go ahead. Original plans were to have the new councils up and running next year but time has now run out to do that.

The current plan is for shadow authorities to be elected in May 2020, and the councillors elected to the shadow authorities will automatically transfer to the two new authorities in 2021.

Joint committees are currently meeting to decide on how the shadow authority will operate.