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.

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