In line with Covid-19 measures, the Town Council has scaled back operations, while keeping council business running behind the scenes. All parks, Fletton House, Victoria Hall and the Hub Café remain closed, and staff are working from home.
Following guidance from a Northamptonshire Environmental Health Officer, the Thursday market has reopened with five stalls selling essential goods. A one-way system keeps shoppers at a safe social distance. The council has not yet determined whether the Farmer’s Market can reopen safely under the new guidelines, and will be measuring and mapping the Market Place before making a decision.
Council meeting agendas are still posted online, and meetings have been conducted via Zoom, to which members of the public can be invited to attend. The Annual Town Meeting was cancelled, as were all local elections due to take place on 7 May.
Many local authorities across the country are facing funding shortfalls and increased expenditure due to coronavirus pressures. While the Town Council anticipates a decline of revenue due to loss of building hire charges and market fees, they said the impact of the shutdown on the council’s balance sheet will be minimal. The precept makes up most of the council’s income and is a protected revenue stream. The council has received a £10,000 grant distributed by East Northants Council as part of the coronavirus business relief scheme for the running of the Queen Victoria Hall.
On 8 May new legislation confirmed the new unitary structure for North and West Northamptonshire Councils to start on 1 April 2021. This followed the postponement of the scheduled unitary elections.
Preparations for creating the two new councils will continue to ensure that all services can be safely delivered on day one.