Just for clarification - the current situation (as I understand it) is:
There will be elections to a transitional unitary authority for Northumberland on May 1st this year.
There will be 67 councillors elected on the existing County Council divisions - and the Council will have a conventional leader and cabinet from the majority party group or a coalition. There'll be no directly elected leader or cabinet as was suggested earlier.
On the current County Council - Labour has a majority of just three over Tories & LibDems combined - but then the Tories & LibDems don't combine very well. If - just supposing - Labour lose some seats and both Tories & LibDems gain some, there'll be no overall control - and there'll be a need to build a coalition. A scenario that holds opportunities should one or two Greens get elected - especially if they have a track record of working well with all parties concerned?
The County Council will be abolished immediately - so the new transitional authority will take on the County Council powers immediately. In fact, it'll be hard to lose the impression that the county council will just turn into the unitary authority - though strictly speaking that isn't the case.
Then over the course of the coming year, the transitional authority will steadily take over the responsibilities of the district councils (including CMBC) - and in April 2009, the district councils will be abolished.
The transitional authority councillors will become unitary authority councillors without a further election - and will hold office till May 2013. The town and parish councils will remain in existence - but they won't hold elections till May 2013 either - so the Morpeth Town councillors you elected last May will serve a six year term! Bet you didn't expect that when you elected them!
Sounds fun, huh?
And all this because Government has been convinced that it will be more cost-effective than the present set-up - and the assumption has been made that the voters and council tax payers would prefer lower taxes to accountability and transparency.