South Northamptonshire Council will this week start to unravel its legal partnership with Cherwell District Council ahead of the expected reshuffle of local government.
The two councils, although separate in name, share the same services and are ‘fully integrated’ according to leader Councillor Ian McCord.
But the likely establishment of a new unitary authority would see South Northamptonshire Council abolished alongside Northampton Borough and Daventry District, with the three set to form one larger council for West Northamptonshire.
It means switching from one partnership to another for South Northamptonshire, which has effectively been merged with Cherwell since 2011.
The legal agreement between the two will end on Wednesday, January 16, but the respective councils are now set to agree into a ‘Collaboration Agreement’ which will ensure both front line and backroom services continue unaffected until they can be fully separated.
Councillor McCord likened the situation to a ‘forced divorce followed by an arranged marriage’.
He said: “With the unitaries coming we have to dissolve our partnership with Cherwell. We are victims of circumstance in that respect.
“But we want to make sure that business carries on as usual. But it is not something that can be split up overnight.
“Our IT services, for example, are fully integrated but there is little point separating it just yet because we will likely have to move to an integrated service for West Northamptonshire. And it would be silly to split up our finance team when they are all currently working on the budgets.
“We were two councils on the outside, but one on the inside. We were fully integrated but it was never something really noticed by the residents, and we don’t want them to notice or be affected by us coming apart.”
South Northamptonshire Council’s cabinet, chaired by Councillor McCord, will meet on Monday to sign off the ‘collaboration agreement’ ahead of the legal ending of their section 113 agreement on Wednesday.