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