Role of Mayor of Northampton could be scrapped in just two years if town loses local authority status

The outgoing Mayor of Northampton Gareth Eales has expressed his fears the role will be abolished within two years.
The outgoing Mayor of Northampton Gareth Eales has expressed his fears the role will be abolished within two years.

The outgoing Mayor of Northampton has expressed his fears the role will be abolished within two years under plans to absorb the town into a unitary authority.

The 777th mayor of Northampton Gareth Eales hands over his chains tomorrow (May 17) at a ceremony at the Guildhall.

But he is concerned the office of the first citizen of the town will be closed by 2020 after an appeal to retain Northampton its own authority under Government restructuring was "left in tatters" at a meeting this week.

Councillor Eales said: "There's a lot of uncertainty whether the role will continue. We've got 828 years of history in it and I would be very sad and disappointed if that weren't to continue but I don't see how it possibly can."

In March, government inspector Max Called recommended abolishing the county council and the seven districts and boroughs of Northamptonshire, and instead create two super unitary authorities for the west and east of the county in its place.

Northampton councillors protested and made an appeal to have the town become its own unitary authority - but the plans were voted down by Conservatives at a meeting on Monday (May 14).

It means, within two years, Northampton will likely join with Daventry and South Northants.

It has also called the future of the mayoral role in Northampton into question.

Councillor Eales said: "The mayoralty is directly connected to the borough council and if that doesn't exist then I don't see how it can continue to exist.

"We could retain a watered down version of it but that's not something any of us should aspire for. It seems that Northampton is being press-ganged into a solution that no one wants."

Northampton's first mayor, Walter Tilly, was appointed in 1215. On Thursday, councillor Tony Ansell will be made the 778th Mayor of Northampton.