Danielle's Blog

The Labour Group presented opposition business to the county on June 21 calling for more and better policing and a refresh of our community safety partnerships and strategy. The motion was voted down by the Tories. This is my speech.

Chair,

I have a vision for the town of Northampton and the county of Northamptonshire.  That these are places that feel loved, that feel welcoming, and above all, that feel safe.  Above all-that feels safe places to bring up our children. That feels safe to women going home late at night from shift work. That feels safe for young men, out on the town with their mates.

But what has happened?

We have a vastly depleted police force and growing crime. I was in Spring Boroughs the other day and did a walkabout with my local cop. He turned me round to look back at where we had come from and said that he knew of three drugs dens within my line of vision that he could do nothing about because of a lack of resources. In Northampton, we have had three non-domestic murders of young men since February. This is intolerable. In St George’s County division we know there has been an increase in sex related crimes, in modern slavery, vehicle theft, anti-social behaviour and drug related crimes.  Yet when residents phone through to 101 they are kept waiting for so long to talk to anyone they give up. As a consequence many crimes are going unreported. We know that the police prioritise their resources depending on reported crime. If communities feel so disillusioned they stop reporting it means that already vulnerable communities are becoming ever more vulnerable.

We know cybercrime is on the rise and office based police deal with that. But we still need visible policing. We need more police on the street. We need more integrated partnership working and we need communities that trust the police,  that report suspicious activity, that report crimes.

Our approach to Community Safety partnerships needs a refresh. We are living in difficult times. Crime is changing and in some instances getting more violent. Recent Asian gold thefts have been marked by the violence of the gangs involved. These are brazen gangs who enter homes in daylight, where there are women and children, who threaten and commit  violence. As individuals become more vulnerable, as communities become more vulnerable, criminal gangs move in. And so we are seeing cuckooing and County Lines. I have been told that last month there were 40 cases of cuckooing across Northampton alone. From the experience of cities like Sheffield we know that where children are vulnerable because they have  been excluded from school they are becoming prey to gangs who use them as drug runners.

We have then a scenario where because of service cuts communities are losing their resilience. Where wages are being frozen and where jobs are casualised families are finding it hard to make ends meet. Where children are disaffected because they cannot cope with pressure from school and social pressures they are becoming prey to organised criminals.

There use to be 57 Police officers in the town centre. There are now 50.5 for the whole town.

The question we need to ask is, as a County, what is our responsibility in this situation? We need an outcome based approach. Is the Community Safety Partnership effective? How do we know? What else can it be doing? Where is best practice in this Country and what can we learn from it?

I beg to move.

Community Safety Partnerships- are they working?

The Labour Group presented opposition business to the county on June 21 calling for more and better policing and a refresh of our community safety partnerships and strategy. The motion...

Press Release June 4th

This evening Northampton Borough Council will seek to reverse Borough policy on Unitary status for Northampton.

In January 2017 a cross party motion committed the Borough to campaigning for a Unitary Northampton. This follows the 828 years of history since we received the Royal Charter, most of which time, Northampton has been self-governing.

Cllr. Danielle Stone, (Labour, Castle), says,  “The Government is abolishing the failed, Conservative, County Council and is trying to force Northampton to become part of West Northamptonshire along with South Northamptonshire and Daventry.

This means that at one stroke of the pen they get rid of two failed Conservative Authorities, The County Council and the Borough Council!

We shouldn’t let this happen to Northampton. We are a large and growing town. We are perfectly capable of governing ourselves. The failed Tory administration at the Borough should, in my view, be replaced with a Labour administration at local elections next year.

What the Government is planning to do is reward Tory failure by creating a new authority with a bias towards the Torys. They are allowing the architects of the failure at both authorities to stay in place and to go for election for West Northants. This is utterly disgraceful.

We need a fresh start for Northampton. We should be self-governing and there should be local elections in 2019”.

Don't scrap Northampton

Press Release June 4th This evening Northampton Borough Council will seek to reverse Borough policy on Unitary status for Northampton. In January 2017 a cross party motion committed the Borough...

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:

1974     

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

2017

January               

Motion calling for a Unitary Northampton taken to Borough Council by Labour and amended by the Tory administration was passed with cross party support.

February             

Inspector sent in to the County

March 15th         

Inspector Reports the County is bankrupt and guilty of financial mismanagement.

March 27th          

Secretary of State statement to abolish the county, reorganise Local government in Northamptonshire, send in commissioners for Governance and for Finance.

April                     

Letter signed by leaders of all the Council parties to Secretary of State calling for a Unitary Northampton.

May 3                 

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.

May                      

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.

May 9th                

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.

May 14th             

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.

June 4th              

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.                                                  

Unitary- where we are now

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...

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.

Special Council Meeting- fighting for Northampton

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...

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.
 
Cllr.dstone@northampton.gov.uk
Cllr.jnunn@northampton.gov.uk
editor@northantsnews.co.uk
northampton@bbc.co.uk
michael.ellis.mp@parliament.uk
andrew.lewer.mp@parliament.uk
andrea.leadsom@parliament.uk

Many thanks
Danielle

http://www.northamptonlabour.org.uk
Twitter: @Npton Labour Group   

URGENT. Action Needed

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...

Abolition of the County Council

Unitary for Northampton

There is cross party support in Northampton among the Borough Councillors for a Unitary Northampton. We believe we are a big enough authority to govern our own affairs and run all our own services. We do not need a failed authority, like the county council, and failed Councillors like Cllr. Andy Mercer, telling us who should control us! The two-unitary solution to a dissolved County is one dreamt up in Westminster by out of touch Conservative MPs. It would mean Northampton going in with South Northants and Daventry. It makes no sense at all. We have a proud 828-year history. We are the largest town in the UK. We must not allow anyone to undermine that.  Having some of our services provided by the county never did work for the people of Northampton.

We always had that sense of big brother looking down us, who always thought they knew best.

We need to be given the recognition we deserve of a geographical area and a local authority that can look after its own citizens. We do not want to be ruled by South Northants and I am pretty sure they don’t want us either.

Cllr. Mercer on radio Northampton  offered a light touch consultation for the people of the county. This is really not good enough. The decision about reorganising the Districts and Boroughs into Unitaries is an important one that will have long lasting impacts. Consultation must be far reaching and serious. The public needs to have a say and to be heard. I urge every Northamptonian who wants Northampton to be self- governing to write to the leader of our council, Jonathan Nunn, to me as leader of the opposition and to our MPs.

Danielle Stone

Leader of the labour Opposition Northampton Borough Council.

07500930903

Abolition of the County Council

Abolition of the County Council Unitary for Northampton There is cross party support in Northampton among the Borough Councillors for a Unitary Northampton. We believe we are a big enough...

Labour Group Northampton Borough Council

To The Right Honourable Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government

Regarding Northamptonshire County Council

27/03/2018

Dear Sir,

We have listened to your response to the Best Value Government Inspection report into the crisis at NCC in the Commons today.

We believe that lack of Government funding has exacerbated the poor and inept management of NCC.   We do understand that in addition to under funding and unfair funding there has also been financial mismanagement.                   

We do agree that a new way forward is key.

Two options for re-organisation are being suggested- a single unitary for the whole county or two unitaries, North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire. However, there is a third option with a unitary authority for Northampton itself. We believe that this would be of the most benefit to Northampton and the county. It would need to be a unitary Northampton with slightly extended boundaries.

You have asked for broad consultation. Please be aware, the Northampton labour party covers 2.5 of the constituencies with a large and fast growing membership.

Northampton Labour constituency party has been consulted about the way forward and has overwhelmingly agreed to a Unitary Northampton.

We are putting out a call to local people and local organisations to tell us what they think and we will be happy to pass that information on to you.

 

Yours Sincerely

Cllr Danielle Stone

Labour Group Leader

Northampton Borough Council

Response to Sajid Javid

Labour Group Northampton Borough Council To The Right Honourable Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Regarding Northamptonshire County Council 27/03/2018 Dear Sir, We have listened to your...

Popular and well know local Labour Councillor Naz Choudary will be the next deputy mayor.

Making the announcement Danielle Stone, Leader of the labour group says,

“I am delighted that Cllr. Choudary has agreed to be our next deputy mayor. He will bring the energy of youth to the role together with his passion for the work local groups do. I know that he will also be a great fund raiser for whatever his chosen charity as Mayor will be. He will be able to bring all the political groups together to support him and a wide range of local projects. I am very much looking forward to seeing him in his role as deputy mayor and then as our first citizen.”

Labour's Deputy Mayor

Popular and well know local Labour Councillor Naz Choudary will be the next deputy mayor. Making the announcement Danielle Stone, Leader of the labour group says, “I am delighted that...

Dr Marie Dickie speaking at the unveiling of the Bondfield statueThe statue of Margaret Bondield, unveiled on International Womens Day, 2018

 

I am here to celebrate GRACE DARE – this was the name Margaret Bondfield used in 1896 when she went under-cover to investigate the conditions of life of shop workers.  Most shop-workers of the period lived in hostels provided by their employers, and despite Victorian prudery it is clear that the exploitation they experienced was not only economic.  They were fed adulterated and sub standard food, fined for any minor breach of rules – but they were also subjected to the kind of treatment which has recently gone public in Hollywood.  In other words, to keep your job, you had to put up with sexual harassment and worse.   GRACE (Margaret) was not some privileged professional, under cover for a few weeks.  She was a shop worker – a country girl come up to London from Somerset.  But her bravery in putting herself and her livelihood at risk won respect.  Her Union, the Shop Assistants Union, promoted her to being its assistant secretary when she was only 25 years old.   She became a sought after figure – was made chairman of the first all women’s trade union federation, and  she also chaired the National Adult suffrage society.

Unlike the suffragettes, Margaret did not engage in direct action-   nor did she seek the vote only for those women who could qualify by virtue of property ownership or University education.    She was a genuine democrat – in a long line from the Levellers of Cromwell’s time through to the Chartists – she believed that the vote belonged to every adult, whether male or female. At the time when she was arguing that case, only half of all men in the UK had a vote.  The changes the suffragettes were seeking, would have left the majority of women in the same un-enfranchised position.

When first Grace (Margaret) came to Northampton in 1915, women’s suffrage was taking a back seat to the needs of War.   Price inflation was punishing working class families hard and women working outside the home and still trying to feed their family had it hardest of all.  Margaret spoke on the Market Square – arguing for rationing so that basic needs could be met. Yet it came as a surprise to many that she was selected to fight one of two Northampton seats in a by election in 1920.  The National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives, representing the majority employed group in the town, was forwarding Labour candidates in both Northamptonshire and Leicestershire and it was assumed that they would have first pick in Northampton.    

It was the Northampton Independent Labour Party (the Momentum of its day) which supported Margaret (known by then as “our Maggie”) for the seat.

 It took a couple of tries, but she made it into the minority Labour Government of 1924, to become the first woman ever to be a British Government minister (as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour). She was the first working class woman to serve in Government in Britain.   By 1926 she had moved on from Northampton a safer seat and by 1929 had become the first Woman Cabinet Minister in a British Government.

Margaret Bondfield had a short lived parliamentary career, disappointing herself and many of those who supported her. The austerity recipes adopted by Ramsey MacDonald and then his desertion of Labour for a Coalition with the Conservatives,  disappointed the hopes of working people for change  and took their toll on Margaret ‘s optimism but not her loyalty. Margaret remained loyal to her Labour values and socialist vision.  She campaigned on the door step in 1945 and lived to see the first majority Labour Government.  It was a great day for Grace Dare, the Somerset country girl who spoke up for her fellow workers.  She continued to campaign and to advocate for working class women and their families until her death in 1953.

 Northampton can be proud of its willingness to choose Grace Dare to represent us and we should make sure that “our Maggie” is a role model for our town’s children: the Somerset girl who stood up for worker’s rights, the activist who championed working women, the democrat who paved the way for women in parliament.  

Dr Marie Dickie. OBE

On Margaret Bondfield by ~Dr. Marie Dickie

  I am here to celebrate GRACE DARE – this was the name Margaret Bondfield used in 1896 when she went under-cover to investigate the conditions of life of shop...

County in melt down Feb 2018.

It was odd seeing new and young conservative Councillors in shock at the financial meltdown at the county. Their distress was real. They were elected to represent their constituents and get the best possible services for them and here they were being required to vote for a budget that is cutting £40m of services. Three voted against and one abstained.

How odd they haven’t identified the Conservative government as the architect of the problems in Northamptonshire. The Government has incrementally withdrawn the Rate Support Grant from Local Authorities and capped Council Tax. The NHS is underfunded. Adult Social Care is underfunded. Children's Services are underfunded. The latest comment on Children's Services from Government was that with good leadership childrens services will be fine. This is so not true. All our services need investment and the difficulties we face in Northamptonshire are being replicated across the country. Demand is soaring.  Resources are diminishing. Central Government clearly does not value local government. The outcome is services that cannot cope with demand and children becoming less and less safe. Vulnerable adults becoming less and less safe. This is ideologically driven. The only real alternative is an early election and the return of a Labour Government.

Cognitive dissonance

County in melt down Feb 2018. It was odd seeing new and young conservative Councillors in shock at the financial meltdown at the county. Their distress was real. They were...

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