Brexit 'delaying' Northamptonshire councils merger

One Angel Square, Northamptonshire County Council HQ
Image caption Northamptonshire County Council is one of eight councils affected by the merger

A council merger could be delayed by the Brexit negotiations, leaders claim.

South Northamptonshire, Northampton Borough, Daventry and Northamptonshire County Councils submitted plans to form the new West Northamptonshire unitary authority last summer.

Councillors fear the government is now too busy with Brexit to approve it by the proposed start date of April 2020.

At a meeting on Tuesday, one said they had "been trying for weeks and months" to get a final decision.

George Candler, chief executive of Northampton Borough Council, told the first ever joint committee meeting, at The Guildhall in Northampton, that the decision depended "on how much time it can be given in Parliament" while Brexit is dominating the agenda.

He said he hoped to hear from the government before MPs break for Easter on 4 April, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said.

'More time'

But South Northamptonshire Council leader Ian McCord said: "I haven't heard anything from the government that gives me any comfort they will stick to that timetable."

Northamptonshire County Council leader Matt Golby hinted that leaders were drafting a letter to the government, urging it to make its decision quickly.

He added: "It may be the case that we have a lot more time ahead of us than we first expected."

Government-appointed inspector Max Caller recommended that the councils join forces after being asked to see whether the county council was providing value for money.

A second unitary authority - North Northamptonshire - will oversee Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough.

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