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Latest news for parish and town councils
It’s all systems go after unitary legislation
Update from Paul Helsby
Welcome to the latest update for town and parish councils from the Future Northants programme, to create two new unitary authorities in Northamptonshire on 1 April 2021.
Many of you will now be aware that the Structural Changes Order (SCO) – the legislation that formalises the creation of the two new unitary authorities on 1 April next year – was recently passed by Parliament.
Preparations for the new unitaries have been progressing well since the Government originally outlined the proposals in late 2018 and the SCO’s approval provides us with the formal confirmation and certainty we need as our work continues.
It also means that preparations are now being made to set up two new shadow authorities that will lead the unitary work. Alongside your parish elections on Thursday, 7 May will be elections for the West and North Northamptonshire unitary authorities.
The new councillors to be elected by residents to the unitaries – 93 in the West and 78 in the North – will initially sit on the shadow councils then automatically become elected members of the new unitary authorities from 1 April 2021.
Engine Room tours
It was good to see many parish representatives join district, borough and county colleagues at the tours of the Future Northants Engine Room which took place recently.
Based at One Angel Square, the Engine Room is the hub of activity for the programme and the tours enabled attendees to view all the latest progress towards creating the two new unitaries, speak to a Programme Manager and Change Managers along with the opportunity for questions throughout.
Due to the popularity of the recent sessions, further tours have now been arranged on Monday 30 March for clerks or chairmen interested in coming along. The hour-long sessions will be held between 11.30am and 3.30pm and spaces are limited so early booking is advised. Bookings must be made online at https://membersengineroomtoursmarch2020.eventbrite.co.uk
Design phase continues
Work is continuing at pace on the Design Phase, to start shaping how the new services for the two unitary authorities will look and work.
Some of you may have already heard about the work towards creating a ‘Strawman’ – a project planning term for an early draft model of how the new councils and their services might be designed. Once complete this will then be refined and worked on further to create draft service designs, which will be known as ‘blueprints’.
Portfolios from across the Future Northants Programme are busy progressing their various work streams.
Click on the links below to read the latest updates:
- Adult Social Care and Health & Social Care Integration
- Children’s Social care and Education Services
- Growth, Infrastructure and Public Estates
- Revenues & Benefits and Community & Leisure
- Corporate Services and Customer & Digital
- Environmental Services and Regulatory Services
Spotlight on the shadow authorities
The Structural Changes Order (SCO) requires two new Shadow Authorities to be formed to lead the work to create the North and West unitary councils. Here’s an overview of how these authorities will be set up and what they will do.
What are shadow authorities and how will they work?
The West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire shadow authorities will be responsible for ensuring the safe and legal creation of the new unitary councils on 1 April 2021, including setting their first budgets and Council Tax levels.
They will run alongside the county, district and borough councils until they are abolished on 1 April 2021.
The shadow authorities will not be responsible for delivering services to Northamptonshire residents and this remains the responsibility of the eight existing councils until 1 April 2021.
How will the shadow authorities be set up?
Elections will take place on Thursday, 7 May when residents will be able to vote for the councillors that sit on these new North and West shadow authorities. On Polling Day they will run alongside elections for parish and town councils and the election of a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire.
There will be 78 councillors in the North – three seats for each of the 26 electoral divisions – and 93 councillors elected in the West – three seats for each of the 31 electoral wards. These wards are based on similar geographical areas to the existing county council division areas.
The new councillors will initially sit on the shadow authorities then automatically become elected members of the new unitary authorities from 1 April 2021. Members will then serve on the new unitaries until the next elections in 2025.
Each Shadow Authority will have a Leader and an Executive, which will be selected from those elected and will lead on the work to determine the structure, budget and service delivery models for the new councils. One of the first tasks by each shadow authority will be to appoint interim statutory officer roles, including an interim Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer and Chief Financial officer (Section 151).
Where will the shadow authorities meet?
Each shadow authority will decide its own meeting and committee arrangements once it is formed, however ahead of this the North and West Joint Committees have agreed interim venues to ensure the shadow authorities can hold their first meetings after the elections in May.
County Hall in Northampton has been confirmed as an interim West venue and Kettering Conference centre as an interim North venue, with the shadow executive committees to tour around each unitary area – civic offices at Daventry, Towcester and Northampton in the West and Corby, Thrapston, Kettering and Wellingborough in the North.
The joint committees are currently overseeing the work to create the two shadow authorities and will cease once the new shadows are formed.
Help us reach your communities
Town and parish councils can play a valuable role in helping to raise awareness of the work taking place to create the two new unitary authorities in Northamptonshire.
You may have noticed that websites and social media channels have been created to provide the latest news and information on Future Northants.
We would be grateful if you could help promote these sites by adding them to your websites and community pages.
We’ll also be using Twitter and Facebook to keep residents informed – these are relatively new and you can help us reach a wider audience by following the accounts and sharing our posts:
Future Northants North:
Twitter – @futureNnorth – https://twitter.com/futureNnorth
Future Northants West:
Twitter – @futureNwest – https://twitter.com/futureNwest
Thanks for your ongoing support!