Labour-run Corby BC last night became the only council to vote against proposals to split Northamptonshire into two unitaries – but its leader has insisted the borough should still be involved in talks that will shape the area’s future.
The other six, Conservative-led borough and district councils voted along with the county council on different days this week to support the recommendation to form one council in the west of the county covering Corby, Kettering, and Wellingborough BCs and East Northamptonshire Council, with the other council in the east covering Daventry DC, Northampton BC, and South Northamptonshire Council.
This will now be submitted to housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire.
Corby leader Tom Beattie (Lab) said: “From holding our own consultation it was clear that a unitary authority was not an option that the people of Corby nor the borough council willingly wanted to be part of.”
Cllr Beattie said it was now “vital” that Corby should be invited to the discussion table with central government to “to progress work on the next step”.
The leader also confirmed that the council would submit a separate letter to Mr Brokenshire which would note its intention to be a part of future negotiations.
It had previously been thought by councillors that Corby would not be invited to these discussions if it voted against the submission. However, Cllr Beattie said that this would not be the case as he expected a formal invitation from the other councils.
“The point I made last night was that while were keen to reflect the opinions of Corby, we didn’t want to disadvantage ourselves,” he said. “We didn’t want to have the other councils making decisions without our involvement. It’s in our interest to be around the table, because if it’s going to be done to us anyway then we need to be there.”
The overwhelming majority of respondents to a consultation by Corby BC, carried out in July 2018 with a 22% completion rate, said they disagreed with the reorganisation into two new unitaries. Of the 6,287 residents who responded, 95% voted no to the question: “Do you want your local authority, Corby Borough Council, to be replaced with a larger authority that funds all your services and makes decisions for the whole of North Northants?”.
Northamptonshire CC and Wellingborough BC became the first councils to vote in support of the proposal on Tuesday, with Northampton BC, Kettering BC and East Northamptonshire DC voting similarly on Wednesday. South Northamptonshire DC and Daventry DC both voted in support on Thursday evening.
Leader of South Northamptonshire DC Ian McCord (Con) said: “We now need to do what’s in the best interest of our residents and we have a responsibility to get the best deal for them. First we need to end the omnishambles that is Northamptonshire CC.”