“When we arrived it was clear that the authority had not had effective leadership for some considerable time. It was failing to manage its activities in accordance with the established norms of a local authority.” Commissioners letter to the Secretary of State - September 2018
All change for local government
For years the Conservative controlled Northamptonshire County Council boasted that they had the lowest (or one of the lowest) levels of Council Tax in the country. This resulted in serious finacial problems, cuts in services, selling off assets, debts, redundancies, and eventually ( May 2018) the government stepped in and appointed Commisioners to run the council.
In their first report to the Secretary of State in September 2018 the Commisioners said –
‘When we arrived it was clear that the authority had not had effective leadership for some considerable time – it lacked integrity and was operating without a corporate centre. It was failing to manage its activities in accordance with the established norms of a local authority. This was most pressingly reflected in its financial situation.’
To see the report go to – Northamptonshire county council: first commissioners’ report (publishing.service.gov.uk)
The financial problems have not gone away but it was decided that the way forward was to change the structure of local government in the county by setting up two new ‘Unitary’ authorities.
The ancient shire county of Northamptonshire and seven Borough and District Councils will be abolished in May 2021 to be replaced by North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire Unitary Councils. The North will cover Corby, East Northants, Kettering and Wellingborough.
From May 2021 current 3rd tier councils (Town and Parish) will become 2nd tier councils and Desborough will fit in to this new structure alongside Burton Latimer, Thrapston, Oundle, Irthlingborough, Finedon, Raunds, Rothwell, etc. Steps have been taken to form new Town Councils in the bigger communities that do not currently have a Town Council (Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough).
DESBOROUGH TOWN COUNCIL
What duties, responsibilities, local services and costs might be passed to 2nd tier authorities? The simple answer is that no one really knows at this stage but it is important that Desborough has a seat at that table and a strong voice in that room as these key decisions are made.
WHY IT MATTERS
The impact of these changes is serious and studies of other areas that have ‘gone unitary’ (Cornwall, County Durham, Dorset) clearly show that the whole process is not simple or straightforward. It may well take years before the changes settle down and new arrangements are established. Getting things right from day one may be the objective but decisions made over the coming months will have an impact on local communities that could last for many years.
The process will need all the experience that local government can offer and a huge level of cooperation to ensure that our communities get the kind of council services that they need and deserve in the future.
YOUR PART IN THE PROCESS
It is important that your local democratically accountable representatives have the skills, knowledge and experience to take on the huge challenge that is on the horizon and this is the part where you have important choices to make on May 6th 2021
REMEMBER HOW WE GOT HERE (See below)
Paying the price – Evening telegraph
Council near collapse – The Guardian
Squeezed to death – New York Times