Northamptonshire: Crisis council replacement plans reach Parliament

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One Angel Square, Northamptonshire County Council HQ
Image caption,
Northamptonshire County Council twice banned new spending in 2018

The legal process to scrap a cash-crisis council and seven others in the same county has reached Parliament.

Legislation outlines plans for two unitary authorities in Northamptonshire to replace its troubled county council and the district and borough councils.

The government has already approved the scheme, but it will now be considered by the Commons and Lords.

If passed, North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire Councils are due to start operating on 1 April 2021.

A government report in 2018 recommended the scrapping of the Conservative-run county council, which twice banned all but statutory spending requirements.

Corby Borough Council, the only Labour-run authority in Northamptonshire, was the only one not to lend its support to the proposals.

Image caption,
Campaigners have protested against plans to make cuts to some Northamptonshire County Council services

The draft Structural Change Order confirmed two "shadow authorities" would be set up during a transition period following local elections in May.

Daventry District Council's Conservative leader Chris Millar told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the timetable was unlikely to be affected by an expected general election.

He said: "The Structural Change Order needs to get through Parliament and it's the first stage that needs to take place to start the unitaries.

"If we have a general election, my understanding is that this will go into 'wrap-up' business.

"They have a wrap-up process where some business will be put through unless there are objections and I don't think this is controversial from a central government point of view."

Why unitary?

The unitary authority model means all council services will be under one roof, whereas the county council was in charge of services such as education, community health and social care, while the borough and district councils looked after services including waste collection and planning applications.

Under the plans, South Northamptonshire, Northampton and Daventry will effectively merge to create West Northamptonshire Council.

A second unitary authority - North Northamptonshire - would cover the Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough districts.

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