AUTHOR: DANNY MOODY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF NORTHAMPTONSHIRE COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF LCOAL COUNCILS
Over the past two years Northants CALC (the membership organisation for parish and town councils in Northamptonshire) has been heavily engaged in the Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) programme in the county. LGR will see the existing borough, district and county councils replaced with two new unitary councils, West Northamptonshire Council and North Northamptonshire Council, from 1 April 2021.
Northants CALC has thought very carefully about what LGR means for its member councils and for the Association and has held workshops and focus groups, conducted surveys, and carried out extensive research on unitary areas around the country, including visiting nearby unitary councils.
The Association realised that it needed to produce a document that answered the basic question; what is Northants CALC asking for out of Local Government Reorganisation? That question had been asked by member parish and town councils wanting to know what their representative body was lobbying for on their behalf, and it had also been asked by the LGR Programme team who wanted to know succinctly what parish and town councils needed out of the process.
Consequently, the outputs of the engagement work were distilled into a short document called Building Communities, which sets out the role of parish and town councils in the context of unitary local government in building stronger and safer communities and acting as the bridge between their communities and the unitary councils.
Building Communities is aimed at those with an interest in designing better public services and stronger communities in Northamptonshire, from individual parish and town clerks and councillors to the Leaders and Chief Executives of the principal councils and other public sector organisations.
At the core of Building Communities is a proposal that each unitary council establishes a Community Partnerships Office (CPO) to act as a first point of contact between the unitary council and the parish and town councils in its area. Northants CALC believes that establishing good communications is fundamental to building an effective and respectful relationship between the two tiers of local government.
Building Communities also describes the parish and town councils in West and North Northamptonshire and sets out how the power of partnership could be developed. Northants CALC’s vision is parish and town councils and unitary councils working together in an effective partnership for the good of each and every community in Northamptonshire.
Building Communities was launched at the Northants CALC Conference and AGM held on 5 October 2019 in Moulton, Northamptonshire. The document was simultaneously published on the Association’s web site and automatically sent by email to every member council. It will also be sent to the Leaders of each of the eight principal councils in Northamptonshire and to other partners and stakeholders.
Parish and town councils in Northamptonshire have been encouraged to discuss Building Communities at a council meeting and also to talk with their borough, district and county councillors about it. Working together, the parish and town councils and the unitary councils can make a success of re-organisation and ensure that it delivers savings and protects vital services for the people of Northamptonshire.