I am proud that Labour has championed a Unitary Northampton ever since 1974 and that we brought a motion to council in January 2017 proposing a Unitary Northampton as Borough policy.
The motion was strengthened by the administration and passed with cross party support.
The motion before us seeks to build on that and is asking for a number of actions to be urgently put in place. The need for urgency is because the government is intending to abolish the county, abolish the borough and create a new authority for West Northamptonshire. This proposal puts our wonderful historic and growing town in with South Northants and Daventry. What kind of a shelf life do you suppose this will have? One term? Two terms? It is unlikely to succeed. There is no geographical, cultural, social, economic or political reason for it.
The urgency is because the people of the town do not know what is being proposed.
It is urgent because the people of the town have not been consulted and have not given a mandate.
It is urgent because we have 2 ½ MPS who have failed to fight for Northampton. Who have treated the county and councillors from their own party with contempt. Who have arrogantly presumed to find a solution to issues with reorganisation without any consideration of what is in the best interests of Northampton.
These are the MPs that belong to a government that is starving the county of funding. That are presiding over a situation where we have growing child poverty, an acute crisis in adult social care, escalating crime figures and a growing sense in our communities of alienation from politics and civic life.
The prospect of a Unitary Northampton is an exciting one. It puts the people of the town, and their elected representatives in the driving seat. At last. No more paternalism from Big Brother county council. We have everything we need in this town to become a successful Unitary town. We have population growth bringing more jobs, more housing, more spending power. We have a wonderfully diverse community that can offer existing employers and incoming employers the skills, knowledge and expertise to trade in the global economy. We have rich and developing cultural industries which together with our cultural heritage will put us on map as a tourist destination. We are a university town, we have a major railway hub, good communications , and an enterprise zone.
Diluting our position by setting us within a rural context is not going to work for Northampton and isn’t wanted by South Northants or Daventry. They will be, how can I put this? - Reluctant bedfellows.
Our role as the Borough Council is stand up to government. To continue the proud dissenting tradition of the town, to fight for Northampton and its people.
Please support the motion calling for an awareness campaign so that our citizens understand all the issues, that seeks support from all sectors for a Unitary Northampton, that invites the secretary of state and our MPs to engage with us.