A look back at 2021
We review the important news stories that have featured in Northamptonshire this year
Dear NN Journal members,
We hope you’ve had a great Christmas with those special to you in what has been a difficult year for many.
Ahead of the start of 2022 we thought we’d take a quick look back at the past 12 months and the news stories that have been prominent in Northamptonshire.
For a second year, Covid has been the dominant issue, affecting the lives of every county resident. We’ve had lockdowns and restrictions and on many occasions towns within our county have topped the charts for Covid cases.
As we move into 2022, and with the new Omicron strain rampaging through the county, it will no doubt also be a big story in coming months.
Here are some of our stories we have brought to our readers concerning Covid.
New unitary authorities
In April this year the local government system of Northamptonshire was overhauled with the creation of two new unitary councils - one serving North Northamptonshire and another serving the West.
Done so on government orders, following the financial collapse of the county council, the reorganisation was completed to just a safe and legal level, leaving much of the changes left to be made once the councils were up and running.
As we have extensively reported, this has caused many problems, especially in North Northamptonshire, where councillors have expressed concern about the speed of change, the current state of services and the amount of staff who have decided to leave the authority.
The authority is also facing a hefty lawsuit due to the former wrongdoing of East Northamptonshire Council, as exclusively revealed by us this summer.
Protests against warehouse developments
All across the county this year, groups of concerned residents have been organising themselves to protest against large scale warehouse developments being planned for the county. Inspired by the original protest group Save Weekley Hall Woods, villagers in East Northamptonshire have now formed STAUNCH to fight warehouse plans close to Titchmarsh. And Save Towcester Now has recently been formed to oppose more warehousing in the town.
Here are some of our reports
The tragic story of motorcyclist Harry Dunn, 19, who was killed by American diplomat Anne Sacoolas close to a Northamptonshire airbase in August 2019, has continued to be prominent national news this year.
After much continued pressure from his family and their lawyer Radd Seiger, Sacoolas is now expected to appear at Westminster magistrates court via videolink from America in January to face charges.
Read our interview with Harry’s mum Charlotte here
2021 saw the tragic deaths of two Northamptonshire teenagers at the hands of a bladed weapon. Rayon Pennycook, 16, was killed in May in Corby and Wellingborough teenager Dylan Holliday, 16, died in August.
A 17 year old has since been found guilty of Rayon’s murder and two teenagers have denied murdering Dylan. They will face a crown court trial next month.
Sadly knife crime has become a growing issue in our county.
Here are some of our reports:
The cobblers saga
Perhaps the biggest story in Northamptonshire over the last few years has been the millions that Northampton Borough Council lost after loaning it to the then owners of Northampton Town Football Club to develop the stadium.
This year the story was once again a prominent one as an audit report found that there were ‘serious failings’ by the council in the giving of the loan and ‘unlawful’ decision making.
Several people appeared in court earlier this year charged with electoral offences after giving money towards the campaign of then leader of the council David Macktintosh in his bid to become an MP.
But despite expectations there have still not been any charges brought against either Northampton Borough councillors in charge at the time, or officers.
And the football club’s involvement with the council continues to be in the headlines as now the club’s owners are doing a deal with the new West Northamptonshire Council about a nearby land buyout. This has been put on hold for more scrutiny.
The Sarah Everard murder by a serving Metropolitian police officer in March threw the spotlight on women’s safety with vigils across the country, including in Northamptonshire. Tragically two women were also murdered in Kettering this year. Maddie Durdant-Hollemby, 22, was killed by her boyfriend Ben Green at his home in Kettering in August. Green then killed himself. Marta Chmielecki, 38, was also killed at her home in Wood Street, Kettering. Her husband Pawel Chmielecki has been charged with her murder.
The children’s services department in Northamptonshire has been failing for several years and in 2020 was moved over to an independent children’s trust.
However as yet the trust has still to produce a public report, although Ofsted has said there have been some improvements in the service with much more to be done.
This month there was more tragic news with the publishing of two safeguarding reviews into the deaths of two babies. Also the director of children’s services Cathi Hadley announced last month that she will leave the service and she is set to be replaced by two directors, one for the North and one for the West of the county.
All of our stories from 2021 are accessible on our website. If you’re looking for an afternoon read, please take a scroll through.
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