Conflicted leader of South Northants council a 'turkey voting for Christmas' ahead of unitary proposals decision

Councillor Ian McCord
Councillor Ian McCord

The leader of South Northamptonshire Council says he has been described as a "turkey being invited to vote for Christmas" as members prepare to make a final decision on the unitary proposals.

Councillors will meet on August 30 to debate and vote on the future make-up of local government in Northamptonshire which is likely to lead to SNC being abolished when it's adjoined to Northampton and Daventry District.

Councillor Ian McCord has expressed his anger at the situation and says he is somewhat conflicted at having to be the person who puts the proposals to council in his role as leader.

"Some have said that this makes me a turkey being invited to vote for Christmas," he said.

"Worse than that, I will actually be the person who stands up on Thursday and proposes this course of action.

"I feel it is my duty to spell out exactly why."

He added: "To say I’m angry about this whole situation is an understatement.

"In South Northants, we have focused on what the residents and businesses in our market towns, villages and countryside want and need, and then delivering it at the lowest cost possible.

"We have saved taxpayers millions by sharing costs for several years now with neighbouring Cherwell District Council.

"Because Cherwell is over the county line in Oxfordshire, this current situation has meant that we have had to begin to unravel those joint working arrangements, so we can instead prepare for a merger into a new council arrangement born out of this mess at the county council.

"But we are where we are, and this process is moving forwards regardless."

Among Councillor McCord's worries is the potential impact the "urban concerns" of Northampton could have on South Northants residents and businesses.

But with a lack of a better solution, he says he's minded to support the unitary proposals.

"My heart longs to take to the streets in protest, but my head says that our residents will ultimately be better served if the voice of their interests is round the table planning for the future, instead of outside waving a banner," he said.

"I worry that the interests of South Northants residents and businesses might be swamped by the more urban concerns of Northampton.

"Nor do I want the services we provide locally to be potentially cut back to bail out county council mismanagement.

"I certainly don’t want council tax bills to go up more than they need to.

"It is precisely because I have these real worries that I think it is even more important that we take our seat round the table as these new councils are formed, and have our voice heard loud and clear.

"I’d love there to be a better solution that actually works in this particular set of circumstances, and I’m all ears if anyone has one.

"That’s why though, after much soul-searching, I am minded to propose that we support this way forward."