Northamptonshire to pursue unitary governance proposal

Northamptonshire County Council has reiterated a commitment to working with borough and district councils on a proposal for unitary governance in Northamptonshire.

Matthew Golby expressed hope that the eight councils in the county could reach a consensus in order to submit one collaborative proposal to the new Communities Secretary James Brokenshire for consideration.

Golby said: “Unitary governance is one of the most divisive subjects in local government, but I am committed to working closely with my borough and district council colleagues towards developing a proposal that we all support. There is a clear commitment from everyone involved that one joint submission, which also has the support of the county’s MPs, is the best approach. This is also the best way to ensure the new councils – however they may look – have the strongest chance of starting on a solid footing with the support of the public.”

Meanwhile, having issued a Section 114 report in February this year to manage poor council finances, Northamptonshire County Council has revealed that it has balanced the books for 2017/2018, with the provisional outturn for the year showing an overspend of £12.7 million – a gap which can be met by reserves short term.

Michael Clarke, cabinet member for finance, said: “Serious action had to be taken very late in the financial year to ensure that the council could deliver a balanced budget. The county council is committed to building on the good work which has already started with a robust approach to financial management and rigorous cost control.

“We will need to replenish our reserves and the challenges of the next few years are very clear, but the county council has shown that it does not shy away from the big decisions, such as the sale and leaseback of One Angel Square in the current financial year. This new determination will help deliver for the people of Northamptonshire while we develop plans with our partners for unitary local government in the county in 2020.”

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