Cllr Tom Beattie was formally re-elected as Leader of Corby Borough Council at the Council’s Annual Full Council meeting last night (Tuesday 28th May).
Cllr Beattie accepted the position by saying:
Once again I am very proud and honoured to have been elected Leader of Corby Borough Council. I consider it to be a great privilege and an even greater responsibility.
Tonight, of course, we should be starting a new term of office with a newly elected batch of councillors. Instead, unusually, we begin the fifth term of this particular council. The reasons for that are well known and I have rehearsed them here before. The catastrophic failure of Northamptonshire County Council has meant the abolition of all the existing councils in the county and their replacement by two new unitary authorities; North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire. A decision confirmed by the Secretary of State just a couple of weeks ago. That meant no elections in Northamptonshire this year. Instead elections are scheduled to take place to a new Shadow Authority in May 2020, with the new unitary councils themselves becoming live a year later.
This is not a situation that we in Corby either sought or supported and I am proud that as a council we voted against the unitary proposal, on a cross party basis, having listened as promised to the voice of the people of Corby. However, be that as it may we now have a responsibility to ensure that the new emerging structures of local government effectively serve the residents of Corby and the wider county of Northamptonshire.
We have a lot to be proud of here in Corby. We are a rapidly improving and growing borough. We have been successfully regenerating through growth since the turn of the century with hundreds of millions of pounds of public and private investment. We are the fastest growing borough in the country outside of London and are well set to fulfil our long held ambition of doubling our population by the year 2030. As a council we are performing well and we are solvent. With both internal and external audit and other reports that clearly evidence this. So much so that this year we have been able to invest some £5.3m from our reserves in projects around the borough to improve our public realm for the benefit of our residents. We have also been able to allocate another £300k to our grants pot for use by community and voluntary organisations across Corby and our surrounding villages.
We continue to build council houses and with the additional freedoms given to us by central government it is our intention to build more in order to help address the chronic housing shortage currently afflicting every area of the UK. One achievement I am particularly proud of this year has been the successful transfer of our refuse collection and street scene service into a joint council owned partnership with our neighbours Kettering Borough Council. I believe this demonstrates this council’s ability to work collaboratively and in partnership with our neighbouring authorities. This bodes well for the future North Northamptonshire Unitary.
However, there is a lot of hard work ahead of us to effect the transition and transformation required to achieve the timetable set out for us by the Secretary of State. I am pleased that a degree of good sense prevailed and a 12 month extension was given to enable this to happen. Something that we here in Corby had consistently argued for. So the next 12 months and beyond will be particularly challenging for the reasons I have outlined but I look forward to working with all my colleagues, across political and geographical divides, as we rise to those challenges. As I am confident we will.
Cllr Jean Addison was also re-elected as Deputy Leader of Corby Borough Council.
Annual Council noted the appointment of Councillor Kevin Watt as Leader of the Conservative Group.
The Lead Members are as follows:
Finance - Cllr Elise Elliston
Housing - Cllr Bob Eyles
Environment - Cllr Mark Pengelly
Community - Cllr John McGhee