The Borough faces a two year period of great uncertainty. We will be subject to an imposed Local Government reorganisation with central government and the County Tory MPs calling the shots. This is what has happened so far:
The Conservative Government created a two tier system of Local Government and imposed a County Council for Northamptonshire. Prior to this Northampton was a County Borough (i.e. a Unitary Authority) and ran its own services including social care and schools. There was a fight back against this over the years, but it was not supported, even by County Labour Councillors
Motion calling for a Unitary Northampton taken to Borough Council by Labour and amended by the Tory administration was passed with cross party support.
Inspector sent in to the County
Inspector Reports the County is bankrupt and guilty of financial mismanagement.
Secretary of State statement to abolish the county, reorganise Local government in Northamptonshire, send in commissioners for Governance and for Finance.
Letter signed by leaders of all the Council parties to Secretary of State calling for a Unitary Northampton.
Special Council Meeting called by all the political parties with a joint motion calling for an information and awareness campaign to engage all residents in support of a unitary Northampton.
Meeting with Civil Service. Districts and Boroughs were told the Government:-
Wants One Proposal for reorganisation
Will not agree to changed boundaries
Insists that reorganisation would be on the basis of no less than 300,000 head of population
Will not provide more money
Has ruled the County debt will be carried by the reconfigured authorities
All the Districts and Boroughs agreed one, joint proposal to government with two unitaries- West Northants and North Northants. PWC commissioned to write proposal. To be consulted on using focus groups by deadline date of end of August.
County Labour Leaders and PPCs meet Secretary of State for communities. Andrew Gwynne MP acknowledged Northampton’s position but commented he thought Government is unlikely to budge.
Tory administration argued against and voted against its own motion. Labour puts up a vigorous and well-argued case for Unitary Northampton. Vote was 18/22 against.
Tory administration to bring a paper to Council reversing Borough policy on Unitary for Northampton.The CLP has posted a petition. Please use the link here. https://www.change.org/p/fight-for-northampton-we- need-our –own-council
In the meantime the Sixfields saga rumbles on with no conclusion. The budget for 2016/17 has not yet been signed off. Tory incompetence piled on Tory incompetence.
The Borough faces a two year period of great uncertainty. We will be subject to an imposed Local Government reorganisation with central government and the County Tory MPs calling the...
My speech to the Special Council meeting May 14th
I went shopping on Saturday at Waitrose and while I was there I asked the manager how many people he would expect through door over a usual weekend. He reckoned around 2000 people would come into the shop during that time.
So this is the number of people you and I see usually when we shop. If half that number of people changed their vote to Labour we will no longer have two conservative MPs in Northampton at the next general election.
These MPs, together with the imploded Tory-run County Council which has devastated the services paid for by tens of thousands of tax payers, have let Northampton down. Bankrupt both financially and in many other ways, our MPs have failed to stand up for a Unitary Northampton which is the only fair solution of our crumbling local government. They have failed to defend a Northampton Unitary and have sought to protect their political heartland by standing back and allowing the Secretary of State for Local Government to make far reaching and life changing decisions affecting these tens of thousands of tax paying resident without proper consultation - so far.
So, Labour will challenge this and right now I am putting the Tories under notice.
Labour will show the residents of Northampton borough that their views are important and which, so far, have not been taken into account by Central Government; that their MPs do to appear to have challenged Central Government’s decisions. Labour will campaign to raise awareness about this democratic deficit. Labour will be out on the streets, door knocking, meeting voters at residents meetings, taking this lack of democracy to the electorate so that if and when there consultations in the coming months, voters will understand their choices and know what to do to bring about the changes they want to seen in the town we all love.
My speech to the Special Council meeting May 14th I went shopping on Saturday at Waitrose and while I was there I asked the manager how many people he would...
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.
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...
NBC Meeting Monday 14th May 2018
Thank you Mr Mayor
Has any consideration been given to the Social and Economic impact of a West Northants Authority
on the residents of Northampton?
Nearly a third of our county’s residents live in Northampton
Our population has grown 34% since 1992
The most recent Ofsted report found our children’s services still require improvement
Our Northampton Borough contains major pockets of deprivation in the central and eastern areas
16 of our wards are among the most deprived 20% in the country
8 in 10 commuting journeys are made by car due to the limitations of our local transport network
Daily road congestion in Northampton still proves a challenge and need to be urgently addressed
There is still an ongoing shortfall of new social and affordable housing within Northampton
These are some of the many issues that still need urgently addressing
What steps are the blue side of the chamber taking to convince our residents of the risk and impact of a two unitary Northamptonshire?
We must fight for Northampton
And ensure we get the best outcome for our residents
NBC Meeting Monday 14th May 2018 Thank you Mr Mayor Has any consideration been given to the Social and Economic impact of a West Northants Authority on the residents of...
Unitary- Two Years On.
Let's turn the clock forward two years and imagine that Northampton is in a Unitary Authority with Daventry and South Northants. This is a situation forced on the majority of the population of Northampton residents, against their will.
Northampton residents will form the larger part of the population of this new Unitary.
60% of the residents in the new Unitary will live in Northampton.
The current spend per head of population in Daventry and South Northants is £310 per head of population. In Northampton it is £446. If the rate of spend in Northampton was reduced to fall in line with Daventry and South Northants the service offered to our residents would be reduced.
Northampton has the greatest income generation and the greatest income spend. Would repair to the potholes in Northampton be prioritised over the Towcester by-pass?
How does the councillor in rural Brackley relate to the homelessness and housing needs in some of our deprived communities?
Where does the democracy lie? Is it with the mainly rural South Northants and Daventry or are the people of Northampton represented fairly? Is Northampton outvoted at every move? Daventry and South Northants have no experience of working on the scale of Northampton.
How similar are the needs and demands of the residents of Daventry and South Northants to those of the residents of Northampton. What do we have in common?
Locally accountable leadership is the only way to ensure that the services are delivered to our residents and communities in the most appropriate way and give the best value.
The Deloitte Report states that a separate Unitary Northampton is the best model to secure the quality of life for local people.
The proposal of an East and West Unitary authority is a stitch up by the failed Tory County Council and the Government.
Where does the loyalty of the Town MPs sit?
Not to the people of Northampton if the Two Unitary model goes through.
We want economic self-containment, locally, responsive and accountable leadership.
If we do not fight for this Northampton Town will not forgive nor forget.
Unitary- Two Years On. Let's turn the clock forward two years and imagine that Northampton is in a Unitary Authority with Daventry and South Northants. This is a situation forced...
Rebuilding Trust in Our Community
This is what I have learnt in my first 6 months about the residents and community as a borough councillor for Eastfield ward.
Initially my first issue to deal with was a request for a tree to be cutback which was causing a health and safety issue outside a residents home ,this must be straight forward I thought, after many phone calls, calls not returned and emails and ownership issues between NBC and NCC the tree still remains a problem,
Rebuilding Trust in Our Community This is what I have learnt in my first 6 months about the residents and community as a borough councillor for Eastfield ward. Initially my... Read more
Community Safety- Council 24.4.18
There is increasing concern about the levels of crime in the town. The number of PCSOs and police officer has been cut drastically leaving us with 50 Neighbourhood officers for the whole town; 28 PCSOs, 15 Police Constables and 7 Sergeants. With shift work, holidays and sickness we don't see many on our streets. Crime and the fear of crime are a big. The police and other services are reduced due to funding cuts at both County and Borough levels.
As the support for our communities diminishes our most vulnerable families are suffering. The loss of Sure Start and children's centres, reduction in mental health provision, the imminent closure of our libraries, the patchy funding for youth groups, the low wage economy and the 15,000 children living in poverty, in our town, provide the environment for the gangs to move in form Birmingham and London to exploit our fragile communities.
The police direct their resources based on the Vulnerable Localities Matrix which ranks areas in the county from 1-490. 20 areas within Northampton are in the top 44 labelled Very High. The top three, the only ones in the Extremely High category , are in our town. The matrix is based on several factors - deprivation, poverty, social housing, drugs, gangs, sex workers, violent crime, domestic violence, rapes - these will direct resources to emerging threats.
There is alarming evidence of children as young as 7 years old being drawn into criminal activity. The drug dealers pay them to deliver drugs and they can be seen doing just this on their bikes in full view, in our parks and residential streets. With both parents possibly juggling two jobs and no spare money for the children, peer pressure to have the latest phone and fashionable trainers pushes these young people into the hands of the criminal gangs.
The Early Intervention Hub, run by the police, has been piloting a project in Northampton North East since September 2017. Nine PCSOs and officers are working with 46 schools in the area. They work with children as young as five who have been identified by school staff. There is an acknowledgement by the PCC that the timely help for children and their families who need it will prevent long term, traumatic and costly changes to themselves, their communities and society.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) refers to the sources of stress that children may suffer in early life. These include abuse, neglect, violence between parents, alcohol and substance misuse, and peer and community violence.
Considerable and prolonged stress in childhood has lifelong consequences. It can increase the likelihood of involvement in violence and a range of other problems. Early intervention programmes, such as parenting support can enable parents to provide safe nurturing environments for their children.
Promoting social and emotional learning in Primary schools is critical for supporting children who are at risk of gang involvement, youth violence and other poor outcomes. These social and emotional skills are vitally important for children's life chances. These skills include the ability to understand and manage emotions and regulate behaviour - skills which help children to develop resilience and avoid risky situations.
This council will therefore take the following actions :
- We need to know and understand from the PCC and a new chief constable the full picture of crime in the town.
- We will support the continued funding of the Early Intervention Hub and its expansion to other areas of the town.
- We will ask our Community Safety team to work with partners to assess the risk and produce an updated community safety strategy to include the risk of gang violence and crime to our young children.
- In the recently published Serious Violence Strategy Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, states 'I am also clear that Police and Crime Commissioners have a pivotal role to play and I want to see them prioritise and work in partnership to tackle the serious violence that damages communities'.
- We will urge the PCC and the Community Safety Partnership to bid for funding from the Home Office's £11 million Early Intervention Youth Fund for youth and community groups who support early intervention and prevention activity in children and young people.
This was my speech to our Labour motion. The motion was amended by the Tory administration and turned into a self congratulatory motion about what is happening - not what should done.
Community Safety- Council 24.4.18 There is increasing concern about the levels of crime in the town. The number of PCSOs and police officer has been cut drastically leaving us with...
Thinking of buying a new home? Please read this:Unadopted roads, in my opinion, are a National scandal. Residents of those roads pay their Council taxes but if anything goes wrong with the road, paths, lighting, Highway verges and trees the residents of that street have to pay for it’s repair/maintenance themselves because the County Council has not adopted it.Some developers pay in a bond, thru a s38 payment within the planning process - some do not - as the bond is not compulsory. It is money set aside to ensure the road on new developments is brought up to the correct standard to be adopted by the County Council.With one street, Tower Hill Close, we were told there was no bond and that is why it was not adopted. But by digging deeper we found there WAS a bond!!The bond for Tower Hill close was put aside it’s value initially was £46,000 but apparently once the road is completed by the developer the bond reduces to 10% of the value - £4600 in this case. No one called for the road to be adopted. Why?Surely, in 17 years since the development was completed, that bond could have been used to adopt the road. I would like to know where the interest of this '£4600' is because now the County Council refuse to adopt it because there is not enough money there to bring it up to standard. Also, I’m told that if they adopt this road they will have to adopt all unadopted roads and that will cost tens of £millions.A very common reason for roads not being adopted is that once houses are sold a developer can go into liquidation therefore relinquishing its responsibilities without completing all infrastructure on the development. The developer could then then create another company and so on it goes. There are hundreds of unadopted roads in this County.I’m told that if they adopt this one road they will have to adopt all unadopted roads and that will cost tens of £millions.Another issue is that the Borough Council is now no longer adopting green spaces on new developments which means someone has to pay for the maintenance, emptying bins etc into perpetuity. That person will be you, the buyer. AND you will also be paying Council Taxes.When purchasing a new home please make sure there is a bond in place or you have some form of indemnity insurance to protect you. Always nag until the road is adopted when the development is complete and always get independent financial advice.I am working with an MP for this area to get this issue taken more seriously in Westminster. I’ll keep you updated.
Thinking of buying a new home? Please read this: Unadopted roads, in my opinion, are a National scandal. Residents of those roads pay their Council taxes but if anything goes...
Message from the Leader of the Labour Group April 2018
As expected the government inspectors report into the Conservative County Council has identified serious weaknesses in the financial controls at the county. The inspector is calling for the abolition of the county and is suggesting a two unitary solution.
This would put Northampton with South Northants and Daventry.
This would not be good for the people in Northampton.
It would help if all the trade unions and local organisations wrote into me and to the leader of the council, Jonathan Nunn, calling for a Unitary Northampton with fairer funding from the government. Please also consider writing to the press and radio and the three MPs.
Twitter: @Npton Labour Group
Message from the Leader of the Labour Group April 2018As expected the government inspectors report into the Conservative County Council has identified serious weaknesses in the financial controls at the...
Queens Park Neighbourhood Plan - Cabinet April 2018
As the Ward Councillor for Trinity and the County Councillor for Kingsthorpe South I fully support this application for Queens Park Neighbourhood Forum and Queens Park Neighbourhood Area.
Firstly I would like to thank the Planning Officers who have offered support and advice to the residents in reaching this milestone.
This application has grown from the residents of the Queens Park area who want to work together to produce a planning framework that reflects the views, aspirations, wants and needs of local people.
The proliferation of HMOs over the past years and the recent large scale developments have prompted the residents to wish to find a way to have more say over the future of their neighbourhood.
Thornton Park is the only substantial green space available locally to the residents of the area. After long discussion, consultation with Friends of Thornton Park and at the request of Thornton Park allotment committee, it was decided to include Thornton Park within the boundary.
It is probably more helpful to the understanding of the purpose and process of Neighbourhood Planning to describe the Neighbourhood Area, that enclosed by the boundary, as the Area of Benefit.
During the formation of the plan all who live or work in the area, are active in an organisation within the area, are an elected representative, use and enjoy the amenities or live nearby are part of the consultation.
ALL are included, and local residents help to make sure that a neighbourhood plan is based on proper understanding of the area and reflect the vision of the community.
The analysis of the responses from the consultation process show time and time again that the objections indicate
- misinformation and a lack of understanding about the process,
- lack of understanding of the advantages of a Neighbourhood Plan
- and the opportunities this can bring to the Area of Benefit.
A Neighbourhood Plan is founded on a robust programme of community engagement and a strong proportionate evidence base. Why would anyone argue against empowering our communities to engage, and make a positive contribution to the safety and security of the neighbourhood, protect our environment, ensure homes for families, aim to reduce pollution and invest in strategic leisure and recreational facilities for the area and Northampton as a whole?
Can I stress that nobody is excluded from community engagement and indeed engaging with the wider community right from the beginning of the plan-making process will ensure a genuine representation of the range of wants and needs in the local area.
The preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan allows the community to actively participate in local democracy.
Let's look at the tangible benefits.
- The Forum becomes a consultee for planning applications in the area.
- The council will engage with the community to agree how the 25% of CIL receipts from developments within the Queens Park Neighbourhood Area should be spent.
- The existence of a Neighbourhood Plan will open avenues to further funding streams,
- and engagement in the process is likely to have a positive impact, giving residents power to shape their own communities.
I urge you to support the designation of this Neighbourhood Area.
Queens Park Neighbourhood Plan - Cabinet April 2018 As the Ward Councillor for Trinity and the County Councillor for Kingsthorpe South I fully support this application for Queens Park Neighbourhood...