Northamptonshire CC members vote in favour of unitary proposals

Councillors at Northamptonshire County Council have voted in favour of proposals to create a unitary authority at its full council meeting today.

The financially-struggling authority has had to make ‘radical’ cuts to services in order to make savings against a £70m budget deficit in the past month — with services being reduced to a bare-bones ‘core offer,’ some have proposed splitting the region by replacing the current eight local authorities into two councils.

Today, the council voted in favour of submitting the unitary authority plans — known as the Northamptonshire Local Government Reform Proposal — as well as voting in favour of endorsing the chief executive to use resources (up to a maximum of £500k) to kickstart the process of forming the two unitary authorities.

All four votes for the unitary proposals were voted in favour of; including ‘Vote 4,’ which approved the interim governance structure in preparation for shadow authorities to be created during the merger.

However, some councillors highlighted their opposition to the plans: Liberal Democrat Councillor Chris Stanbra said the government is pushing Northamptonshire CC into the unitary proposals.

He added: “This is being proposed by the government — ministers should be ashamed of themselves. They have subverted democracy.”

Conservative Cllr Dudley Hughes said dealing with soaring demand in children’s services with less funds is an “impossible situation.”

He added: “I have been a councillor for 20 years. I am ashamed we are going to forfeit democracy in order for expediency.” Cllr Hughes said encouragement from central government for the unitary merger “is the death of democracy. This is the democracy of Putin. We need to have the government taking responsibility for the situation we are in.”

Other council members went even further to condemn the proposals: Labour’s Cllr Gareth Eales opposed the proposals as a “sham.” He added: “I'll be voting against as I think this is an attack on our democracy. The whole thing is jam for tomorrow." Cllr Eales went on to call on Conservatives to disprove allegations that the they are slaves to their MPs and to vote against the proposals.


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