Agenda item

Community Governance Review


Councillor Larratt submitted a report explaining that a lengthy process had been undertaken by the cross-party working group where upon it proposed that the Council made a Community Governance Reorganisation Order be made.  This would create a Northampton Town Council, a Far Cotton and Delapré Community Council and a Kingsthorpe Parish Council.


During the consultation period, letters were sent to every household in the parishes through the support of the Elections team.  He understood that some people felt the consultation had not been fit for purpose however the same process had been used in previous Community Governance Reviews proposals.  The proposals could not be altered without further consultation being undertaken, incurring additional costs.  There would be an option to reconsider the governance options in two to three years’ time.


Councillor Nunn seconded the report and reserved his right to speak.


At this point Councillor Birch proposed an amendment to the Community Governance Review report.  She called the Council to separate consideration of the three new councils in order that each could be voted upon separately.  She called upon the Council to respect the views of the ward councillors and residents of Kingsthorpe, and St David’s and the views of WASPRA.  It was felt that the parish could be too large, being larger than the town councils of Brackley and Towcester.


The area consisted of very different demographics and it was felt that the consultation was flawed.  The elected members for those wards were not consulted with, nor were community groups or key stakeholders.  It was suggested that Kingsthorpe and St David’s could join the Town Council.  It was asked that a review be held in eighteen months’ time to enable further consultation.


Councillor Beardsworth seconded the amendment indicating the parish wanted to start small and grow over time.  It would be beneficial to delay and consider alternative options at another time.  She felt the proposal was being rushed and was too complicated.  She believed that people felt forced into this option and didn’t fully understand the implications.


Councillors discussed the amendment expressing disappointment that the proposals had been submitted in this format.  The proposed Northampton Town Council would become the largest town council in the country.  The proposal regarding Kingsthorpe Parish Council should be delayed to ensure all available options had been considered.  Benefits for everyone were created when diverse communities worked together.  The report did not contain financial information regarding the precepts for the new councils. 


In response Councillor Larratt thanked everyone for their comments.  Members had expressed concern regarding the size of the proposed Kingsthorpe Parish Council however no such concerns had been raised regarding Northampton Town Council which was larger.  The proposal had been discussed for the past eighteen months’ therefore it had not been rushed.  He understood that Kingsthorpe was a community with its own identity and needed its own parish council to represent it.


At this point the Mayor called for the amendment to be voted upon.  This was a recorded vote with the following result:


Voting for the amendment:  Councillors Choudary, Ashraf, Beardsworth, Birch, Duffy, G Eales, T Eales, Haque, Joyce, B Markham, Marriott, Meredith, Russell, Roberts, Smith and Stone.


Voting against the amendment: Councillors Ansell, Eldred, Flavell, Golby, Hadland, Hibbert, Hill, Kilbride, King, Lane, Larratt, Malpas, M Markham, Nunn, Oldham, Parkekh, Patel, Sargeant, and Walker.


Upon the vote the amendment to the Community Governance Review fell.


Further discussions were then held on the main report.  Some councillors felt there was not enough time for the proposal regarding Kingsthorpe Parish Council to be considered adequately.  It was acknowledged that there were no restrictions on what parish councils could add to their precept and the true costs of setting up this parish council were not yet known.  The process would be clearer after the Unitary Councils were in operation.


At this point another amendment was tabled by Councillor G Eales.  He proposed that the term of office of the new councillors shall be for 4 years from 2021 rather than the proposed 5 years from 2020 onwards for four-year terms. 


Councillor Marriot seconded the amendment with those speaking indicating the report did not clearly define the finances involved. 


Councillors discussed this amendment agreeing that the report was unclear as to how much the parish council would cost to establish and its operational costs for the first two years. The new parish councils would need time to settle and establish themselves as the lower tier of local government.  They would also be supported by Northampton CALC.


The Monitoring Officer explained that the second amendment presented suggested that elections were moved to 2021.  The Structural Change Order for Northamptonshire stated that elections could not be held in 2021 therefore the amendment if agreed could be unlawful.  If the Council was minded to agree the proposed amendment then further investigation would be needed to check if it was lawful.


In response Councillor Larratt indicated there was a need to ensure the parish councils were operational before the unitary councils to ensure they were supported.  The Council would grant fund the new parish councils for the first year of operation enabling them to plan with and for their local areas.


At this point the Mayor called for the amendment to be voted upon.  15 members voted for the amendment and 20 voted against the amendment therefore the amendment fell. 


Councillor Larratt asked that the Council supported this proposal within the report which would enable local areas to have a say going forward.


At this point the Mayor called for the recommendations to be voted upon.  20 members voted for the recommendations and 14 voted against the recommendations and there was 1 abstention, therefore the amendment fell. 


The recommendations in the report were agreed.


RESOLVED: That the Council

a)    Considered the recommendations of the Cross-Party Working Group at its meeting on the 18th February, 2020 and set out in full, in its report and plan now attached as Appendix ‘A’, and which were:

                                          i.    That a Community Governance Reorganisation Order be made creating a Northampton Town council of 21 wards and 25 councillors as shown in red on the enclosed plan; a Far Cotton and Delapré Community Council (unwarded) with 12 councillors; and a Kingsthorpe Parish Council of five wards and 15 councillors both as shown in blue on the enclosed map (see Appendix 1).

                                        ii.    That the term of office of the new councillors shall be for 5 years from 2020 onwards for four-year terms.

                                       iii.    That the Chief Executive be authorised to convene the first meetings of the new councils. The first meeting of the Town Council being planned for Monday 18th May at 6.00pm at the Guildhall.

                                       iv.    That it be noted that the new Town Council and likewise the new Parish and Community Councils will not be exercising their full civic functions until April 2021

                                        v.    That from 1st April 2020 until the first meetings of the new councils, those borough councillors serving borough council wards in those new Council areas shall have responsibility for those new councils

                                       vi.    That the Chief Executive, after consultation with the Cross Party Working Group and subject where necessary to reports to Full Council, be authorised to prepare schedules of land and property to be transferred to the new councils including civic plate and historic artefacts to the new Town Council and to approve the budget requirement (grant to be paid) of the new councils and this delegation to also include any necessary amendments to the reorganisation orders for other matters that need to be included.

                                     vii.    That the new councils will be known/titled as:

·         Northampton Town Council

·         Far Cotton & Delapré Community Council

·         Kingsthorpe Parish Council

Supporting documents: