Northamptonshire County Council votes to scrap itself

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Northamptonshire County Council
Image caption,
Northamptonshire County Council has said said it must save up to £70m by March

Councillors at a cash-strapped local authority have backed plans to replace the county's eight existing councils with two unitary ones.

A second council will now have to vote the same way before the plan - which would come into operation in 2020 - is put forward to the government.

The proposal was backed by 31 votes with 14 councillors voting against.

All eight of the county's authorities will vote on the plan, which comes after the county council - which faces a funding shortfall of about £70m - issued two notices banning all new spending this year.

Matt Golby, the leader of the Conservative council, said the vote - that included several abstentions and absences - would help to give the county an "opportunity to reset".

"There is lots to celebrate about Northamptonshire. Our residents deserve the best we can offer. We need to instil from day one the best practice in all of our scrutiny and functions," he said.

Image caption,
Residents have protested against the proposed cuts at the county council

Max Caller, who led the government investigation, said one unitary authority would cover Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire and the other would oversee Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough.

Labour's Councillor Mick Scrimshaw said: "This is clearly a proposal put forward by government to abolish the political embarrassment of this council."

His party colleague John McGhee commented: "At the time we will be spending millions on transformation we will be cutting frontline services. We should not be making a decision today. We need the detail."

This week, all of the councils in the county will have similar meetings, prior to submitting a plan for reorganisation to James Brokenshire, the minister responsible for local government.

Legally, only one council needs to vote to back the plan for it to go to the Secretary of State for approval.

But, the councils said a total of two would need to vote for it before they would put the plan forward.

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