The leaders of Northamptonshire’s district and borough councils have baulked at proposals to replace their local authorities, and the county council, with two unitary authorities.
Leaders have now requested a meeting at the “earliest possible opportunity” with housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid to discuss alternative future options for reorganisation.
Three council leaders told LGC that they did not support government inspector Max Caller’s call to replace the county and its seven districts with two unitaries, as it would not provide the solutions to the county’s problems.
Under the proposal the geography covering Corby BC, East Northamptonshire Council, Kettering BC, and Wellingborough BC would form one council, while Daventry DC, Northampton BC, and South Northamptonshire Council would form another. The county council would be scrapped altogether.
Leader of South Northamptonshire DC Ian McCord (Con) said: “The £50m savings that [Northamptonshire CC leader] Heather Smith said were needed in her resignation speech cannot be made through mashing us together. Reorganisation is not a silver bullet and the only solution has to come through reforming public services.”
Cllr McCord said he was concerned over the lack of consideration given to the fact South Northamptonshire Council has shared some staff with Cherwell DC in Oxfordshire since 2014.
Corby BC leader Tom Beattie (Lab) said: “It is extremely disappointing that because of the failure of others the future of our council is now threatened. The people of Corby deserve better than this.”
LGC previously reported how borough and district councils, along with the county’s MPs, have commissioned have Deloitte to publish a report on alternative outcomes for Northamptonshire. A draft of the report, which LGC has not seen, reportedly disagrees with reorganising the county into unitary councils.
Chris Millar (Con), leader of Daventry DC said: “A draft [of the report confirms] that unitary councils in Northamptonshire alone will not resolve the serious position facing the public sector in the county.”
A spokesperson for all of the district and borough leaders said that any proposals considered must be “sustainable, long-term, and in the best interests of residents”.