Unitary authority workshops explore reform in Northamptonshire

Published Thursday, 07 February 2019

Over 100 councillors, senior officers and key stakeholders in the county gathered for two workshops at the end of January.

To discuss what is important to local communities and organisations in shaping two new authorities for Northamptonshire. The workshops followed two seminars in the autumn to which all councillors were invited.
 
The workshops showed a keen desire for councils, the health sector, the voluntary sector, and other partner organisations to work together in creating two new councils that provide better services in a more efficient way.
 
During the two days, all attendees were encouraged to share key areas of importance in the design of the new unitary authorities and included discussion around community engagement, culture change, finance, sustainability, technology and scrutiny.
 
The input from all stakeholders will be used to create a set of principles that will inform the design of the North and West unitary authorities.
 
Leader of East Northamptonshire Council, Steven North, said “Shaping councils that work well with partners and deliver the best services we can is at the heart of this process.
 
“The first workshop was about getting all of our partners together to discuss the high-level principles that should be adopted to ensure that we create two successful and sustainable authorities in Northamptonshire.
 
“In the second workshop, we revisited and refined those principles and discussed what we thought were the main opportunities arising from the expected restructure and what challenges we might face in taking advantage of those opportunities.
 
“There was some great discussion over the two days and a strong desire to learn from the past while also looking to the future to create the best services we can.
 
“We will now take some time to reflect on the output of the workshops and we will be engaging staff, partners, the public and the trade unions in the process as we develop our thinking further.”
 
Dawn Cummins, Chief Executive of Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire, added: “This was a great opportunity to highlight the needs of the voluntary and community sector as well as its ability to support two new authorities in new and innovative ways that better meet the needs of our communities, all of whom are committed to making Northamptonshire a great place to live and work.” 
 
Northamptonshire is currently awaiting a decision from the Secretary of State on whether its eight existing councils will be replaced with two new unitary authorities from May 2020. Following Government consultation, an announcement is expected before Easter 2019.
 
For more information and updates about Local Government Reform in Northamptonshire, visit www.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/lgr