Agenda item

Community Governance Review of the Borough - Potential options for consultation and further actions

(Copy herewith)


Councillor Larratt, as Deputy Leader of the Council, presented the report “Community Governance Review of the Borough - Potential options for consultation and further actions”, he drew Council’s attention to the report of Opinion Research Services (ORS) and the options for consultation. He added that consultation would be wide-reaching and it would initially be discussed by the Working Group.  Councillor Larratt highlighted that it is important that Northampton and the Communities have a strong voice.


Councillor Nunn seconded the report.


Councillor Stone commented that a Northampton Unitary had been wanted and there was a real need for a strong voice for Northampton.  She added that the Labour Group had no objections to Parish Councils but the voice of Northampton must not be diluted.  She was pleased that two alternatives were going out to consultation.  She enquired how the consultation would take place and emphasised the importance of this decision to the town.


Councillor Malpas commented that he could not support this report, the borough of Northampton is an ancient borough.  He added that Councillors wanted to be one big Unitary and there was a need for Councillors to be united.    He went on to refer to the difficulties some Parish Councils can experience, adding that with a Town Council there is uniformity.


Councillor Beardsworth referred to consultation that took place some years previously regarding parishing the whole town and residents had not wanted this then.  She acknowledged that Kingsthorpe had been proposed to be a Parish Council and she had not been consulted on this.  She added that the proposals for a Kingsthorpe Parish Council were big and it would be bigger than the Town Council in Towcester.   Councillor Beardsworth commented that residents had informed her that they did not agree with a Parish Council for Kingsthorpe. She suggested that locality based Councils should be investigated after the new Unitary Authority had been set up.  A Town Council would have a strong voice for Northampton.


Councillor Birch advised that she was an advocate of Community Governance and supported a larger Town Council for Northampton.  Councillor Birch felt that residents in her ward would want to be associated with Northampton, Civic and ancient traditions; which would fall in line with a Town Council.  She commented that the town is suffering from an identity crisis.


Councillor Nunn commented that the report was asking Council to consider going out to consultation and let the people decide.


Councillor Davenport commented that she was speaking on behalf of the residents of Far Cotton. The residents want accountability.  Parish Councillors do not receive an allowance, a Community Council would receive a precept.  Residents felt that they had not previously been consulted with.


Councillor Smith advised that she concurred with Councillor Birch’s comments. She emphasised that consultation must go out as far and wide as possible; it should not be restricted to Residents’ Associations only. She added “Northamptonian” is key.


Councillor Meredith stated that consultation has to go out widely and every household must be issued with a letter providing explanations about the consultation. Other methods of consultation such as street stalls should be considered.

Councillor G Eales commented that there should be a Northampton Town Council and it should be about what the people want. There is a need to get the consultation right.


Councillor B Markham referred to the recommendations contained within the report and queried how this could be built upon.  He added that costs of services are currently unknown and what services will be devolved from the Unitary Authority.  He felt this was a rushed process and a new review should convene after the Unitary Council had been set up. A Town Council would keep the voices of Northampton and its identity.


Councillor McCutcheon commented that the majority of people feel they are “Northamptonians” and this should be reflected.


Councillor Hill advised that he supported the consultation detailed in the report.  Town Councils and Parish Councils have the same level of power.  Community Councils should serve the people in that area and should be accountable to the people.  He added that there would be costs but these would be determined by the local people and consultation needs to be inclusive.


Councillor Russell commented that she had concerns regarding finance and was aware that some Parish Councils had debts; one with a particularly large debt.  In response, Councillor Golby advised that Duston Parish Council is proud of the services that it provides and it has borrowed money to be able to provide these services.


The Solicitor, Northampton Borough Council, advised Council that the proposed extension to Duston Parish Council was in two areas and he confirmed that there would be detailed consultation in Duston. The results of which could be presented to Council to consider.   The Council in considering the first part of the consultation by Opinion Research Services referred to the recommendation that the nature and content of the next stage of the CGR consultation would be decided by the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Working Group at its next meeting.


Councillor Hadland commented that divisions for the Unitary Authority would comprise three Northampton Councillors for each present division; he felt that they would fight for the identity of Northampton; joined by other Councillors.


The Deputy Leader advised that there was a need for the next stage consultation to take place; he added that residents of East Hunsbury and Grange Park, for example, are also very much “Northamptonians.”





2.1      That  the report of Opinion Research Services on the first stage of the consultation, after being given careful consideration, is noted with its content and conclusions taken into account for the next stage of the consultation process.


2.2      That the recommendations made by the Working Group at its meeting on 15 May 2019 are approved, to allow the two following options discussed at the Working to go forward for stage two of the Community Governance Review consultation process:


a)        Option `A’ with enclosed map (Appendix B of the report)

b)        Option marked `B’ with enclosed map (Appendix C of the report)


2.3      That the recommendations made by the Working Group at its meeting on 15 May 2019 are approved, to allow the two following submission to go forward for further consultation with their individual communities:


a)        Submission by Duston Parish Council to extend its boundaries as shown in the enclosed plan (Appendix D of the report)

b)        Submission from the Whitehills & Spring Park Residents’ Association to create a new Parish Council title at this stage Kingsthorpe Parish Council (Appendix E of the report)


2.4.     That the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Working Group, is delegated power to approve the form of the second stage of consultation under the CGR process to be carried out by Opinion Research Services.


Council adjourned at 8:55pm and reconvened at 9:10pm

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