Councils propose arrangements in preparation for transition to new unitary authorities

Published: Friday, 8th March 2019

Proposals for how two new unitary authorities in Northamptonshire could be established have been decided by the current eight councils.

This work includes the development of a Structural Change Order (SCO), which is drafted by Government but includes provisions for the structure of the new authorities, for example the council’s name, the number of councillors and wards, the electoral cycle and the composition of the Shadow Executive, which will pave the way for the new unitary authorities.

The current councils have an opportunity to influence the content of the SCO and have made proposals to the Secretary of State, who will decide whether to adopt them or put different arrangements in place.

Meanwhile, Joint Committees for the north and for the west are to be established to drive the programme of work required to set up the unitary authorities.  These are designed to enable the Shadow Executives to hit the ground running when they are created.

Current Context

Northamptonshire is currently awaiting a decision from the Secretary of State on whether its eight existing councils will be replaced with two new unitary authorities from April 2020. In order to meet this deadline, preparatory work is already underway to ensure that those authorities can operate safely and legally from 1 April 2020.

There will be an SCO for the north and one for the west and the proposed content has been decided at full council meetings across the county. To read the full SCO submissions to Government for approval by both Houses of Parliament, go to www.kettering.gov.uk/publicservicereform

It is anticipated that the Government will present the SCO to the House of Commons and the Lords after Easter 2019.

Once the SCO is approved and until the new councils exist, a Shadow Authority for the north will meet which will be made up of members from Corby Borough, East Northamptonshire District, Kettering Borough and the Borough of Wellingborough councils as well as members from Northamptonshire County Council.  The Shadow Authority must be formed within 14 days of the approval of the SCO by Parliament and details of that meeting will be published on all of the councils’ websites.