Residents’ views to be sought on future council opening hours

Widespread public consultation is today launching across Northamptonshire with residents and businesses on future opening hours for the main customer services for the new West and North councils when they go live on 1 April next year. The consultation closes on 23rd August.

The proposals focus on bringing current opening hours, whether by telephone or face to face, into line across the North and also across the West, so that for example the hours offered in Corby match Wellingborough and those in Northampton match Daventry. This won’t however include those out of hours or emergency services, which will still run 24/7/365.

Residents and local businesses can give their views via the Future Northants Consultation Hub at https://futurenorthants.citizenspace.com/customer-services/csc-opening-hours-new-unitaries/

This is a relatively limited consultation, as it wouldn’t be affordable to substantially increase opening hours overall, and is therefore more about targeting the available overall opening hours in the way most convenient to those who use them.

Once the public’s views have been gathered, they will be considered alongside responses from customer service staff and trade unions, as well as from partner organisations like the voluntary and community sector, and taken to councillors to help them make decisions for the future.

Should this public consultation result in potential changes then this will be part of an employee consultation through Trade Unions so staff will be able to explore any impact on their working arrangements, but for now this is an engagement with the public what customers services will look like next year.

Richard Ellis, current chief executive of South Northamptonshire Council, who is leading this piece of work on behalf of all eight councils in the County said:

“More and more people are getting what they want from their local councils online, at any time of day, or day of the week, to fit in with their own working lives and family commitments. Many still prefer to use the phone though, or even see someone in person, and we really want to hear from local residents about which pattern of opening hours for council services would best suit them, so we can do our best to match those.”

New identity for new shadow authority

A new identity has been developed for the West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority, the governing body for creating the new West Northamptonshire Council.

This work has been delivered at no cost to local taxpayers, with the work done in-house using councils own talented and experienced graphic designers, rather than commissioning an external branding agency.

The shadow logo has been designed to show the distinction between north and west as the two areas start to develop their own priorities and strategies. The chosen design builds on the Future Northants brand which depicts the areas that will make up the two new councils from 1 April 2021.

A member-led working group is also developing the identity for the West Northamptonshire Council, again using in-house skills and expertise to create a visual identity that is simple, modern and distinctive.

Jonathan Nunn, chair of the communications and engagement working group for the west, said:

“It is important to us that we keep costs to a minimum on this project. As local authorities face increasing budget pressures, our residents very sensibly want us to focus our efforts and resources on delivering services that meet their needs from excellent social care to good transport links. That is why we’re using our in-house graphic designers for both of these projects, making the most of our internal talent to create clear identities without incurring extra costs to the taxpayer.”

Can you help to keep the standards high?

A keen and dedicated volunteer from the local community is being sought to help keep standards high in the run-up to the creation of the new West Northamptonshire Council.

The West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority, which is leading the work to create the new Council on 1 April next year, is looking to recruit an ‘Independent Person’ to work with its Standards Committee and democratic services officers to help promote high standards among Members and ensure public confidence in the run-up to go-live day.

Under the Localism Act 2011, the ‘Independent Person’ will have a number of roles, ranging from being consulted on the decision of how to best resolve any complaints about standards of conduct or to advise Councillors on their positions.

The role, which will run until April 2021 when the new Council is then formed, is a valuable source of wisdom and outside perspective for the Authority and will be involved in many interesting issues of ethics and governance. The post is voluntary, however travel and subsistence expenses will be payable for undertaking duties.

Councillor Adam Brown, Chair of the West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority’s Governance Task and Finish Group, said: “The role of the Independent Person is a vital one as local government in Northamptonshire undergoes a huge transformation with two new unitary councils next April.

“This position carries a great deal of responsibility with the important task of helping to ensure that shadow councillors maintain the highest of standards. If you’re impartial, dedicated to your community and keen to get involved in local democracy, whether you know anything about local government or not, then we’d love to hear from you.”

The closing date for applications is 4pm on Friday 31 July 2020 with interviews being held on Friday 7 August 2020.

For further details, including an application pack, please contact:

Paul Hanson, Democratic Services Manager
email: democraticservices@westnorthants.gov.uk
Telephone: 07912 891994

Applications must be completed and returned to:
democraticservices@westnorthants.gov.uk or
Paul Hanson, Democratic Services, c/o One Angel Square, Angel Street, Northampton, NN1 1ED.

West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority joins declaration to transform its digital services for residents

As part of our plans to transform local services for the future, we are signing up to the Local Digital Declaration today (15 July) along with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Government Digital Service.

The declaration is a cross sector shared mission, enabling the foundations needed for the future generation of local digital public services.

It embodies five principles of internet age local public services. These are:

• To go further to redesign our services around the needs of the people using them.
• ‘Fix our plumbing’ to break our dependence on inflexible and expensive technology that doesn’t join up effectively.
• Design safe, secure and useful ways of sharing information.
• Demonstrate digital leadership, creating the conditions for genuine organisational transformation to happen.
• Embed an open culture that values, incentivises and expects digital ways of working from every member of our workforce.

Cllr Ian McCord, Leader, West Northants Shadow Authority, said:

“We are genuinely ambitious for the future of West Northamptonshire and excited by the opportunities created by modern online and digital tools to help make things easier and quicker for residents and businesses, as well as being more efficient for our staff to work with. From helping residents to remain independent in their own homes, to reducing our impact on the environment, digital tools and techniques will help us to create the next generation of public services and reduce our costs.”

You can read the full declaration on the Local Digital website www.localdigital.gov.uk/declaration, which gives more detail on the principles and the commitments we’ve made in order to lay the foundations for the public services of the future.

West Shadow Executive “sets the standard for new ways of working”

Members of the West Northants Shadow Executive have taken their first steps towards a fresh collaborative approach to managing land, buildings and finances in the run-up to the creation of the new West Northants Council.

At their latest online meeting, members discussed the need for an agreed approach from any council that wishes to buy, sell or transfer any assets over £100,000 in value to bring them to a future Shadow Executive meeting so that the new West Northants Authority can assess its long term impact on the new council’s finances.

The proposed way of working also applies to projects such as new building developments and infrastructure (known as capital projects), which existing councils are not already financially committed to. The protocol will also apply to the use of reserves for any project that has not been agreed in existing budgets.

Councillor Ian McCord, Leader of the West Northamptonshire Shadow Executive said:

“A major part of setting up the new West Northamptonshire Council is bringing together assets and finances of the existing councils. It makes sense that we have collective agreement on how these are managed now, in preparation for April next year when the new council goes live.

“It’s important that the four councils continue with the projects already underway and budgeted for, however before starting any new project, the effect on West Northants Council is properly considered.”

You can view a recording of the latest meeting on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCujrRO-y6RzkN6zPQ-xNAtA

West Northamptonshire Shadow Executive agrees new task groups to drive forward unitary preparations

The first ever West Northamptonshire Shadow Executive met virtually last night  to continue driving and delivering the plans for creating a West Northamptonshire Council.

Following last week’s inaugural West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority meeting with over 100 councillors taking part in discussions, members of the newly formed executive committee met online to agree terms of reference for a suite of member-led task groups that will drive the unitary plans.

These working groups involve over 50 councillors from across West Northamptonshire and a range of political groups. They will help to progress a variety of major work streams such as governance, Council Tax harmonisation, budgets, senior appointments and equalities as well as transformation, which remains a key element of the plans for the new council.

Shadow Executive Leader, Ian McCord, said:  “This is the start of a new era for West Northamptonshire. All four councils are working as one team to create a new council that brings together the very best from the past, but which is also keenly focused on the future. These are difficult times for residents and we remain committed to helping them through COVID but we’re also looking to the longer-term future where we can provide better services to help residents live happier and healthier lives.

“There was a healthy debate around these member task groups and the key activities that they will deliver in the creation of West Northamptonshire Council. We agreed that the achievements of each group will be shared at future executive meetings where members of the public can hear the progress to date including on how we are setting budgets and appointments to key statutory roles including the new Chief Executive.”

A recruitment campaign was recently launched to attract the brightest and the best candidates to the most senior roles in the new West Northamptonshire Council. These include Chief Executive, Director of Finance, Monitoring Officer, Director of Adults Social Care and the Director of Children’s Social Care. A dedicated recruitment website is attracting a great deal of interest as enthusiasm grows for the future of West Northamptonshire.

Cllr McCord added: “I would encourage all interested candidates to take a look at the roles on offer and then tell us why they think they are the best person for the job. Elected members will be involved in the process to recruit the best talent through the task groups and look forward to receiving strong applications.”

These key roles will be filled by October this year well in advance of April 2021 when West Northamptonshire Council is formed. For more details, go to www.shapethefuturenorthants.co.uk

A recording of the West Northants Shadow Executive meeting can be viewed on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUbrADnO4nM

Milestone meeting marks next chapter for new council

Councillors in West Northamptonshire have the chance to work together on a ‘fresh start and bright future’ for residents as part of the new shadow authority which met last night.

The call came from its newly-appointed Leader Councillor Ian McCord who addressed Members at the first meeting of the West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority, which has been set up to lead work to create the new unitary council on 1 April next year.

Councillors from Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire and the county council’s western areas took up their seats as new Shadow members to decide a range of key issues at the online session.

Speaking to fellow Members at the meeting Cllr McCord said: “Making this change to a West Northamptonshire unitary council has one purpose – to give local people and local government a fresh start and a bright future.

“Let us work in a spirit of cooperation to resolve the issues we face. Whatever party we belong to, let’s all sit on the same side of the table and solve the problem together. We have just one chance and little time to get it right.”

At the meeting, councillors approved a series of interim senior officers, required by law, to steer forward preparations for the new council until permanent positions are filled later this year.

George Candler has been appointed Interim Chief Executive, with Susan Zeiss Interim Monitoring Officer and Martin Henry as Interim Chief Finance Officer (Section 151).

Mr Candler is Chief Executive of Northampton Borough Council, Ms Zeiss holds the role of General Counsel at Northamptonshire County Council and Mr Henry is Executive Director for Finance at South Northamptonshire Council.

At last night’s meeting, councillors also agreed the shadow authority’s Constitution – the legal framework which sets out how it will be run and do business – along with the Code of Conduct for the 132 Members that sit on the Shadow.

They also received and endorsed the membership of the authority’s new Shadow Executive (executive committee), which will head up the authority’s preparations for the new Council, and decided the membership of other shadow committees for Overview and Scrutiny, Standards and Senior Appointments.

You can view a recording of yesterday’s meeting at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl6rn9nDJ0s

The West Northants Shadow Executive is set to hold its first meeting online next week (Tuesday, 9 June), with the agenda available to view at: https://cmis.northamptonshire.gov.uk/cmis5live/WestNorthamptonshireShadowAuthority.aspx

First Shadow meetings mark next chapter for unitary preparations

Future Northants – Challenges and Opportunities

Councillors from across Northamptonshire will take up their seats on the two new shadow authorities this week as preparations progress to create the North and West unitary councils.

Members of the West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority will meet for the first time at 7pm on Tuesday (2 June) and the North Northamptonshire Shadow Authority at 7pm on Thursday (4 June). Both meetings will be held virtually via video-conferencing and streamed live to the public on YouTube.

The Leaders of the two new shadow authorities said the inaugural meetings marked the start of the next chapter in the unitary journey.

In a video update published this week, North Shadow Leader Cllr Russell Roberts and the West Shadow Leader Cllr Ian McCord gave more details on the next phase of the work to set up the new councils on 1 April next year – a new approach called Safe and Legal Plus – and highlighted the challenges and opportunities ahead.

You can watch the video update on the Future Northants Youtube channel at https://youtu.be/Bwqyw7fIvBc

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).

Both meetings can be viewed live on Youtube channel:

Watch the West Northants Shadow Authority meeting live from 7pm on 2 June at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOtMXYpYYhvEHxYkCiUdtqw

Watch the North Northants Shadow Authority meeting live from 7pm on 4 June at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcH_JAaHaMtgHDeMQEVXi2g/videos

The agenda for the West Northants Shadow Authority meeting can be viewed at: https://cmis.northamptonshire.gov.uk/cmis5live/WestNorthamptonshireShadowAuthority.aspx

The agenda for the North Northants Shadow Authority meeting is available at: https://cmis.northamptonshire.gov.uk/cmis5live/NorthNorthamptonshireShadowAuthority.aspx

Search is on for new senior officers for unitary councils

A national recruitment drive launches today to find and appoint the chief executives and statutory director roles that will head up Northamptonshire’s two new unitary councils.

Legislation requires that by the end of December this year, a permanent Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer and Chief Finance Officer (Section 151) must be in place for each of the North and West Northamptonshire unitary councils, which will be created on 1 April 2021.

Recruitment is also underway for a Director of Children’s Services covering both North and West unitary councils to manage the countywide contract for the planned Northamptonshire Children’s Trust; as well two Directors for Adult Social Services, one for each new authority.

The posts are being advertised from today and interviews are scheduled to take place in July and August. Application details available at: www.shapethefuturenorthants.co.uk

Councillor Russell Roberts, Leader of North Northamptonshire Shadow Authority said: “The launch of this recruitment campaign marks another significant step towards the creation of the new unitary councils.

“We are advertising these statutory officer roles nationally, roles that will be core to each council’s new leadership team.

“We want to make appointments as early as we can to enable whoever we appoint to be directly involved in the many key decisions we will have to make.”

Councillor Ian McCord, Leader of the West Northamptonshire Shadow Authority added: “We have a chance for a new beginning, we have one opportunity to get this right.

“To be successful we need to recruit the very best talent to lead and shape the creation of the new council alongside us politicians.

“This is the beginning of a process to ensure that we can have a fresh start and a bright future.”

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.