Agenda item

Transfer of Property and Services

To consider the report of the Acting Town Clerk (copy enclosed)


The Acting Town Clerk recalled that over a period of time a wide range of properties and services had been suggested for possible transfer from the Borough Council to the new Town Council. These fell into three general categories: those which had already been agreed; those which the Borough had agreed to transfer in principle subject to further reports; and those in respect of which the Town Council had requested further information on the financial and staffing implications of transfer before considering further.


a)    Transfers already agreed

The Statutory Order creating the Town Council had transferred the following allotment sites on 1st April 2021: Billing Road East, Broadmead Avenue, Glebeland Road, Graspin Lane, Harlestone Road, Parklands, Rothersthorpe Road and Southfields.


The Order had also transferred the Mayoralty and accordingly the full current budget for mayoral support services is being included in the draft budget. A long list of other civic items including regalia, robes, muniments and other artefacts was being compiled and would be reported in due course.

Following the creation of the Town Council the Borough Council’s previous responsibility for maintaining closed churchyards also passed automatically to the Town Council. I have not yet been advised the precise areas of land involved or the maintenance costs for them.


b)    Transfers agreed in principle by the Borough Council

At its meeting on 2nd November the Borough Council had agreed in principle to transfer the following property and services subject to further reports to the Cross Party Working Group and full Council: Markets, Events and Entertainments, Festive Lighting, Street Furniture, Hanging baskets and Planting Displays, Town Twinning, Community Grants, and Town Centre Management Activities.


The Borough Council at its meeting on 18th January had agreed that the Town Council be offered, subject to the concurrence of the Shadow West Northants Council, a long lease of the historic part of the Guildhall on an internal repairing basis only. At the last meeting of this Committee it had been noted that the principal council would retain the freehold and responsibility for structural repairs including the roof and the external statues. As the Guildhall was currently managed and serviced as a single unit with the modern office extension and could not be readily be divided it was likely that the landlord would continue to be responsible for heating, lighting and other services, cleaning, security and other overheads such as insurance and business rates. The Town Council would then be required to pay a service charge for its proportion of those costs.


The Committee had agreed at its last meeting that the Town Council was willing to continue to explore a long lease of the historic part of the Guildhall as indicated, subject to the receipt of further details of all income and expenditure related to this part of the premises. No further details were available at this meeting, but officers undertook to endeavour to present more details of income and expenditure at the Council meeting.


c)    Property and Services for which the Committee has requested more information

In addition to the services set out in sections a) and b) above, he recalled that the Committee had asked the Borough Council for advice as to the financial and staffing implications of further potentially local services being transferred to it. These were: Local Open Spaces and Play Ares (but excluding premier parks and land held under the Housing Revenue Account), Community Centres, War Memorial and statues, Council representatives on outside bodies and charities, Neighbourhood Wardens, Park Rangers.

It was accepted that Councillors would require further information on all the above property and services in due course to enable them to consider which services the Council wished to continue to explore. However, as many services are currently managed as part of much wider contracts or in a “package” with other services, he advised that disaggregating the precise income and expenditure details which Councillors would expect to see as part of usual budget preparation was complex and would take some time to achieve, final figures may not be available in time for the Council meeting on 27th January.


Given the circumstances set out in the above advice, the Committee considered the best courses of action including potential discussions with West Northants Council which had already included provision in its own draft budget for many of the services which might potentially be transferred.



1.    To agree in principle, subject to the concurrence of the Shadow West Northants Council, to the transfer on 1st April of those properties and services set out in paragraph (b) of the report of the Acting Town Clerk (including a long lease of the historic part of the Guildhall) and, subject to the approval of the draft budget for 2021/22, further reports on the financial and staffing implications of these transfers be presented to the Executive Committee;

2.    To explore with the Shadow West Northants Council a possible funded transfer of the further services set out in paragraph (c) of the report on 1st April 2021; and

That, in the event of the Borough/ West Northants Councils agreeing to the transfer of property and services outlined above but it not proving possible to conclude the formalities of any of those transfers by 1st April, 2021, the Town Clerk be authorised to conclude a Service Level Agreement to enable those services to be continued to be delivered under existing arrangements until such time in 2021 when the formalities of transfer can be completed.

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