Steven North has been re-elected un-opposed as Leader of East Northamptonshire Council at the 45th annual meeting in May. He is also leader of the ruling Conservative group and a member for Rushden Sartoris ward.
Councillor Glenn Harwood MBE was elected as deputy leader and pledged his support to Councillor North, to the council and to the district.
At the meeting, Councillor North said:
“I am, once again, honoured to be asked to lead this council and remain as proud of our district as ever.
“Despite challenging local government finances, this council remains well run with one of the lowest Council Tax rates in the country. We remain in a reasonably sound financial position and yet again have delivered a balanced budget, without using the reserves to do so.
“We’ve had success with the government approving our efficiency plan and this, coupled with potential changes to local funding including retaining Business Rates at a local level, helps us plan with more certainty.
“We’ve also seen the Joint Core Strategy accepted which supports a sensible approach to the delivery of housing numbers and to delivering homes with an increased minimum plot size. Within this is the Rushden Sustainable Urban Extension and Tresham garden village – both very exciting but different projects which will deliver over 4,000 new properties to the area. The 2,500 for Rushden are part of our commitment as a Council to protect our rural communities. We will be bringing masterplans for these sites to Council within this financial year and will continue our work on a new district local plan, as well as continuing to support neighbourhood plans.
“As well as housing, we also look to deliver higher quality and better job choice in the district. Opportunities across the district will be developed with the help of our new head of commercial development who focus on the growth agenda and a more commercial approach to service delivery.
“Our support of community projects continues with 50% of the New Homes Bonus funding we receive set aside for projects across the district that improve the health and wellbeing of many of our residents. So far, we have committed over £1m to this work along with £200k of Members Empowerment Funds that benefit communities in need of support.
“These are exciting times for East Northamptonshire with the opening of Rushden Lakes and all of its employment, retail and visitor opportunities; the new contract with freedom leisure who now run our sports centres and healthy and active outreach programme; the Destination Nene Valley project which promotes the Nene Valley as destination of choice for visitors and locals and, finally, a new waste contract which will continue to provide the excellent service that residents value, plus some improvements.”
Acknowledging the support and confidence of those around him, Steven added: “None of this can be achieved without the hard work and dedication from staff and members, so thank you all. And thank you for your support.”