Northamptonshire councils replaced 'as soon as possible' says PM

Theresa May Image copyright House of Commons
Image caption Theresa May said the new authorities in Northamptonshire would be will be a significant step

The prime minister has told Parliament that a cash-crisis county council should be replaced "as soon as possible".

Northamptonshire County Council and the county's seven district authorities are to be replaced by two unitary councils.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Theresa May said officials have been working on the details of the legislation for the new authorities.

She said they would provide "sustainable, high quality services".

But the prime minister did not give a definite date for when the bill would be put before Parliament, according to the the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Elections are scheduled for May next year to create two shadow authorities, with the new councils due to come into being in April 2021.

Image caption Government inspectors were brought in to run Northamptonshire County Council and it had to ban any new spending in 2018

Local government in the county is being reorganised by order of the government after the financial collapse of the county council.

The legislation for the reorganisation still needs to go through Parliament.

The prime minister was responding to a question asked by Conservative MP for Northampton South, Andrew Lewer, who said residents "needed certainty".

She said government officials were "working hard" on the details of the legislation.

"Our aim is to lay the statutory instrument as soon as practical for parliamentary debate and parliamentary approval," she added.

Image copyright House of Commons
Image caption Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer said the local council were working hard towards the new unitary authorities

Under the plans, South Northamptonshire, Northampton Borough and Daventry district councils will merge and take on the county council's responsibilities to create a new West Northamptonshire unitary authority.

A second unitary authority - North Northamptonshire - will oversee Corby, East Northamptonshire, Kettering and Wellingborough.

The estimated cost of reorganisation is £44m, but the councils have to fill a £15m funding gap - £1.88m each.

On Tuesday, the county council, which had to ban all but essential spending twice last year, said they had delivered a balanced budget.

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