Shadow authorities set to meet for first time in early June

Two new Northamptonshire shadow authorities will hold their first meetings early next month as preparations progress to create the North and West Northamptonshire unitary councils on 1 April next year.

Members of the West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority will meet for the first time on Tuesday, 2 June at 7pm and the North Northamptonshire Shadow Authority will hold its first meeting on Thursday 4 June at 7pm.

The meetings will be held virtually via video-conferencing in the light of the ongoing coronavirus social distancing measures, with all members of the North and West Shadows – 152 and 132 Members – invited to take part.

The North Shadow Authority is made up of the existing Members of Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough councils and County Councillors representing electoral divisions in these areas, with the West Shadow Authority comprising Members of Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire councils and County Councillors covering these geographical areas.

At the two meetings, the shadow authorities will adopt their constitutions and appoint their interim statutory officers (interim Head of Paid Service, monitoring officer and chief finance officer).

The agenda for the West Northants Shadow Authority meeting is available to view at: https://cmis.northamptonshire.gov.uk/cmis5live/WestNorthamptonshireShadowAuthority.aspx

The North Northants Shadow Authority meeting agenda will be available to view from 27 May at: https://cmis.northamptonshire.gov.uk/cmis5live/NorthNorthamptonshireShadowAuthority.aspx

The first meetings of the Shadow Executives (executive committees) for each authority will convene next month. Further details and agendas will be available nearer the date.

The composition of the Shadow Executive is set out in legislation recently passed by government. Cllr Russell Roberts will be the Leader for the Shadow North Northamptonshire Authority with Cllr Martin Griffiths as Deputy Leader whilst Cllr Ian McCord will be the Leader for the Shadow West Northamptonshire Authority with Cllr Jonathan Nunn as Deputy Leader. The full executives for both authorities will be received at their first full meetings.

All Members of the Shadow Authorities and Shadow Executives will be clear that, when they are debating and making decisions in these bodies, they are representing the new Shadow Authorities and not any other Northamptonshire Council of which they remain a Member. It is important for the work of both the existing sovereign councils and the new shadows that there is this distinction of roles.

Plans to create two new councils undergo major redesign as Covid crisis continues

With tackling the Coronavirus everyone’s top priority, plans for creating two new councils in Northamptonshire will be scaled down, with a new approach called ‘Safe and Legal Plus’.

New legislation that came into effect on 8 May, as expected confirms the new North and West Northamptonshire Councils will start on 1 April 2021.  This follows the postponement of this spring’s scheduled unitary elections due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The North and West Shadow Councils’ Executives at their first meetings in late June will be considering proposals to prioritise work to ensure all services are set up safely and legally for day one of the two new authorities, whilst still working hard to bring together and improve as many existing services as possible.

Preparations will continue towards setting up the new countywide Children’s Trust by 1 April next year, with the timescale dependent on the ongoing pandemic response.

The priorities of the proposed revised Safe and Legal Plus programme include:

  • Ensuring all services for the new councils are ready to go next April so residents continue to access services as they usually would.

  • Setting up the new North and West shadow authorities, which are made up of the existing district, borough and county councillors. They will meet in June and replace the West and North Northants Joint Committees.

  • Ensuring budgets are set for each new council, and developing plans for equalising Council Tax rates across each unitary area.

  • Bringing together the existing district and borough services into the new North and West unitary councils and splitting county council services across the two areas.

  • Even better joint working in Adults Services and Health and Social Care, with improved ways of working to improve services for residents and deliver significant savings.

Cllr Russell Roberts, Leader of the new North Northamptonshire Shadow Authority said: “Our councils and services are facing unprecedented challenges in responding to the Covid pandemic and the health and welfare of our residents is at the forefront of everything we are doing.

“We’re working on the assumption that safe and legal is deliverable by 1 April 2021 but due to the uncertainty that exists at the moment, we will continually review what is possible to achieve and by when as we move through the next few months.

“We’ve had to re-think our ambitions as to what we can achieve by Go Live Day, but while the focus is on Safe and Legal we’ll be doing what we can between now and April.”

Councillor Ian McCord, Leader of the new West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority, said: “Providing essential public services to residents and businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic has rightly been our top priority, with work on the new councils put on the back burner.  As a result, we’ve had to scale back how much we can do before launch of the two new councils next April.  We’ll certainly have each new council up and running on time, but will complete much of the behind-the-scenes work of integrating staff from the previous councils later on.  What’s most important is that residents relying on public services continue to see them run smoothly.”

To view the vision document, ‘Prospectus for Change-the next chapter’ and to find out more about the new Safe and Legal Plus approach for the unitary preparations visit: futurenorthantswest.org/information/ and futurenorthantsnorth.org/publications-and-background-documents/

Interim arrangements for North and West Northamptonshire shadow councils agreed by Government

Plans to create two new unitary councils for the county from next April will now continue within the planned timescales following the confirmation today of new legislation by the government.

Following the postponement of May’s local elections because of the Covid-19 pandemic, an alternative approach and new legislation were needed for the creation of the organisations.

The response to the current Public Health emergency is the top priority for all councils in the county. However all Council leaders recently welcomed the news that new legislation was being published to ensure the changes to local government would not interfere with the Covid-19 response.

As expected, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has now set out these changes to the legislation passed in Parliament earlier this year. The amended regulations were published today and will come into effect on 8 May.

This means the North and West Shadow Councils will still be set up next month to lead the preparations for creating the two unitary councils. Instead of being made up of newly elected councillors, they will combine the membership of the existing district, borough and county councils. The existing councillors will sit on the shadow authorities until 1 April 2021. The elections to the new unitary councils will then place on 6 May 2021. This is the procedure that MHCLG adopted for the creation of new unitary councils in Buckinghamshire, Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, electing councillors directly to the shadow authority is more unusual when creating new councils.

The Shadow North Northamptonshire Council will comprise of 152 members, and the Shadow West Northamptonshire Council will comprise of 134 members.*

At present, the Local Government Reform programme is overseen by two groups, a Leaders’ Oversight Board, comprising all eight leaders and two Joint Committees, one for the north and one for the west.  MHCLG has decided to use these governance arrangements to select Leaders and Deputy Leaders of the two shadow authorities with a term of office from now until May 2021. They propose to use the Leaders’ Oversight Board to appoint the Chairs, and the Joint Committees to appoint the Deputy Chairs.

Cllr Russell Roberts, the Chair of the Leaders’ Oversight Board, will be the Leader for the Shadow North Northamptonshire Council with Cllr Martin Griffiths, the Chair of the North Joint Committee, as Deputy Leader.

Cllr Ian McCord, the Deputy Chair of the Leaders’ Oversight Board, will be the Leader for the Shadow West Northamptonshire Council with Cllr Jonathan Nunn, the Chair of the West Joint Committee, as Deputy Leader.

Dates for the first meetings of the two shadow councils have yet to be confirmed and they will both be held virtually, with opportunities for the public to take part. Dates and details will be posted on futurenorthantsnorth.org and futurenorthantswest.org websites.

Executive committees for each shadow council will also be established and these will be made up of two representatives from each of the current councils, consisting of the Leader plus another Councillor.

For the shadow North Northamptonshire Council, there will be 10 members on the Executive and the West Northamptonshire Council Shadow Executive will be made up of 8 members. The Leader of Northamptonshire County Council (NCC), Cllr Matt Golby, will sit on the West shadow executive as his division is in the West. Two Cabinet members from NCC will join the North Northamptonshire Shadow Executive.

Many resources from across the county have been drafted in to assist with the Covid-19 response and some of those recruited to the Future Northants Team have been reassigned to this work. As a result of this, the scope of the Future Northants Programme will be reviewed to understand what needs to and can be delivered for 1 April 2021.

Joint Statement from the Leaders of all eight local authorities in Northamptonshire. Future Northants – Local Government Reform

“Next week the government will publish, and legislate for, its response to dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. It will include reference to the planned reorganisation of Local Government in Northamptonshire. We welcome the clarity this will provide.

“We expect that this legislation will outline the creation of two new Shadow Authorities to come into being in May this year. Just as they would have come into being had the local elections not been postponed.

“Because of the delay to these elections, the current councillors across all district, borough and county councils, as elected representatives, will form these new organisations on an interim basis until elections are held on the 6th May 2021.

“Due to this different approach and the absence of newly elected bodies, we also expect the government to nominate those local councillors who will be interim Leaders and Deputy Leaders of the Shadow Authorities as opposed to these being selected locally. Those nominated will take on this responsibility until such time as elected representatives can be returned to the new councils.

“The coronavirus is likely to have a profound impact on our society. Its impact on local government reorganisation in Northamptonshire is minor in comparison to the hardships and tragedies impacting our communities. However we welcome the clarity the government intends to provide so that work can continue on the creation of two new unitary councils. “

Borough of Wellingborough Council leader – Martin Griffiths
Corby Borough Council leader – Tom Beattie
Daventry District Council leader – Richard Auger
East Northamptonshire Council leader – Steven North
Kettering Borough Council leader – Russell Roberts
Northampton Borough Council leader – Jonathan Nunn
Northamptonshire County Council leader – Matt Golby
South Northants Council leader – Ian McCord

Councillors agree next steps towards shadow council preparations

Councillors have agreed the next steps that start putting into practice the new legislation to create a West Northamptonshire unitary authority.

At their meeting this week (Tuesday, 3 March), Members of the West Northamptonshire Joint Committee endorsed arrangements towards meeting the requirements of the Structural Changes Order (SCO) – the legislation approved by Parliament last month to create two new unitary authorities in Northamptonshire on 1 April 2021.

Councillors agreed plans to appoint an Implementation Team, which is required under the SCO to progress the unitary preparations. They also agreed to use Northampton’s County Hall as an interim venue for the first West Northants shadow authority, which must legally meet within 14 days of the unitary elections taking place on 7 May.

On Polling Day, residents in Daventry District, Northampton and South Northants will be asked to elect 93 councillors to the West Northamptonshire Council, who will initially sit on the shadow authority then automatically transfer to the unitary council when it is created in April next year.

At its first meeting, the shadow authority must appoint a Leader and an Executive Committee, which must then legally meet within 7 days of the first council meeting. The Joint Committee has approved interim plans to rotate the Executive Committee meetings between civic offices in Lodge Road Daventry, The Forum at Towcester and the Guildhall and One Angel Square in Northampton.

Other accommodation issues, including designating headquarters for the new unitary council, have not been determined.

Chairman of the West Northamptonshire Joint Committee Councillor Jonathan Nunn said: “With the new shadow authority having to hold its first meeting within two weeks of the elections, it’s important we have these arrangements in place as soon as possible so we can hit the ground running.

“We investigated a broad range of options, including venues in Daventry, Towcester and Northampton and concluded that County Hall, with a few modifications, is the best fit for these council meetings which are going to involve over 90 members. Rotating the Executive Committee around venues in Daventry, Northampton and Towcester will provide further opportunities for people to see local decision-making in action.”

To find out more about the progress towards unitary preparations in West Northamptonshire, visit futurenorthantswest.org

Councillors steering forward proposals for a West Northamptonshire unitary council will discuss the latest progress at their next meeting on 3 March

Members of the West Northamptonshire Joint Committee will meet at Northamptonshire County Council on Tuesday, 3 March from 6pm to consider the latest updates on the Future Northants programme, the work to create two new unitaries in Northamptonshire on 1 April 2021.

To view the agenda and reports visit:

http://www.northamptonboroughcouncil.com/councillors/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=886&MId=9075&Ver=4

Parliament gives go-ahead for Northamptonshire’s new unitary councils

Parliament has today passed legislation to replace Northamptonshire’s eight existing councils with two new unitary authorities on 1 April next year.

The Northamptonshire Structural Changes Order has now been approved by the House of Commons and House of Lords, enabling the creation of a new North Northamptonshire Council serving the areas of Corby, East Northants, Kettering and Wellingborough and a new West Northamptonshire Council serving Daventry District, Northampton and South Northants.

The two new unitary councils will start providing services to Northamptonshire’s residents and businesses on 1 April 2021 when the eight existing district, borough and county councils will be abolished.

Now the legislation is approved, the next stage will be to set up two new shadow councils to lead the work to create the two new unitaries. Elections will take place countywide on Thursday, 7 May where residents will be able to vote for the councillors that sit on these new North and West shadow councils.

Councillor Martin Griffiths, Chairman of the North Northamptonshire Joint Committee said: “We welcome the certainty that the approval of this legislation brings as we focus our efforts on creating two new councils to deliver more efficient and joined-up services for the people of Northamptonshire. We are working hard to create two sustainable unitary councils that, while being very different in nature, will be exemplars of how to provide excellent services for our residents.”

Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Chairman of the West Northamptonshire Joint Committee said: “Our councils have a strong track record of working together and we have already made encouraging progress towards shaping the new unitaries whilst we awaited this formal confirmation of the government’s reorganisation plans. There is still much to do between now and next April but we are confident these new unitary councils will deliver improved services that will make a positive difference to people’s lives.”

The West and North shadow councils will run alongside the county, district and boroughs until the existing councils are abolished on 1 April 2021. The new councillors to be elected by residents on 7 May – 78 in the North and 93 in the West – will initially sit on the shadow councils then automatically become elected members of the new unitary authorities from 1 April 2021.

Until the new shadow authorities are established, preparations for the new unitaries are being led by North and West joint committees.

The eight existing councils are working together to prepare for the new unitaries as part of the Future Northants programme, which is currently in the Design phase – to begin drafting how the services for the new unitary councils might be designed.

Residents can find out how preparations are progressing and keep updated on the changes ahead on the Future Northants websites:

North Northamptonshire – futurenorthantsnorth.org

West Northamptonshire – futurenorthantswest.org

Structural Change Orders have been debated by the House of Commons and the House of Lords

The Structural Change Orders have been debated by the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Both houses will now vote to approve the SCO. You can follow the latest progress using these links:

Commons
https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/131b25ec-0454-4a7d-a199-c5f57d6aa2ec

Lords
https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/1cc91354-18ec-4db7-b064-524927f39b8d