Preparatory work under way while Secretary of State's decision is awaited

Published: Monday, 01 October 2018

Chief executives and leaders of the eight councils in Northamptonshire are now meeting weekly in order to prepare for the possible creation of two new authorities in the county.

This will enable them to hit the ground running if the Secretary of State decides to go ahead with the restructure. The immediate focus is the Structural Change Orders, which are largely technical documents but which will need to include details like the number of councillors proposed for each new authority.

Decisions on the design and structure of services will be made by the shadow authorities, which we expect to be established in spring 2019. In the meantime, all decision making will continue to go through each council’s democratic system to ensure options are openly debated and robust decisions reached.

In order to help inform future decisions, preparatory work will include talking to exemplary unitary councils to learn best practice and to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible. Key stakeholders and partners will also be involved in that process in the coming months to make sure challenges are understood and solutions are built into the design of the new services.

Northampton Borough Council leader, Cllr Jonathan Nunn, said: "We potentially have several months to wait for a decision from the Secretary of State but, given the very tight timescales within which we’re working, it is vital that we get on with some of the groundwork now so we’re ready if he confirms the proposal for two unitary councils.

"There’s little point in reinventing the wheel and we can learn a great deal from several excellent unitary authorities which have already been through this process. Of course, whatever we learn must be tailored to residents’ needs and the unique characteristics of our area."