Football club loan scandal raised in House of Lords

The Friday Brief: Council loan report raised in House of Lords, Corby Borough Council award contract without putting it out to tender, and health officials issue warning to the extremely vulnerable

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The findings of a damning report into Northampton Borough Council’s handling of a £10.25m loan to Northampton Town Football Club have led to an urgent question being tabled in the House of Lords.

The loan, given to the club between July 2013 and August 2014, should have been used to redevelop the club’s Sixfields stadium and nearby land, but the work was never completed and the money was not paid back to the council.

The report found there had been “serious failings” and “unlawful” decision making by the council. 

Lord Kennedy, Labour’s local government spokesperson in the Lords, has now tabled an urgent question to ask the government what it intends to do about the report. 

“The findings were shocking and it calls into question the whole operations of the council at that time,” Lord Kennedy told NN Journal.

“The worry is that this council will soon cease to exist and this matter won’t then get the attention it deserves. This is a huge amount of money for a local authority to lose. I’m hoping the government will be able to tell me what it plans to do about this. Somebody should be held accountable.”

Lord Kennedy has also submitted several written questions on the issue.

Corby Borough Council’s website contract given to chair of board’s company

The company owned by the chair of Corby’s Town Bid deal was handed the contract to create the bid’s website without it going out to tender.

Lorna Dodge’s company S.C. Agency was paid an undisclosed sum out of the £162,000 made available by the government for local authorities to build up a bid to potentially win £25m towards regenerating their town centre.

Corby, along with Northampton, was one of 100 towns selected to be in the running for the funds and its board was set up last January.

Lorna Dodge was appointed as the chair, however due to the pandemic after the January meeting another one did not take place until July.

The website, which is sparsely populated, was launched in November  - just two months before the bid had to be finalised. The only news updates published on the website dates back to March. The bid - which includes plans for a new sixth form college in Chisholm House and upgrades to the cycle and walking link from Oakley Road to the town’s centre, will be submitted this week.

When Corby Council was asked by NN Journal why Lorna Dodge’s own company was the only one asked to quote, a spokesman said: “Due to the value of the works, a tender was not required. 

“Due to the costings of the Corby Towns Fund website (under £3,000) and in line with contract standing orders, we obtained one quote.

The selection was based on time restraints (three weeks from start to finish) and the web designer”.

NN Journal asked Lorna Dodge about the conflict of interest, she said: “(The) Entire town board makes the decisions to reach the best outcome.”

More details about the bid can be viewed by watching this week’s One Corby Meeting

The extremely vulnerable should continue to shield after vaccine

Residents of Northamptonshire who are “clinically extremely vulnerable” are being reminded to continue to shield before one or both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Public Health officials have said that regardless of whether people in this category have received the vaccine they should not go to work, school or college and should limit the time they spend outside of the house.

Lucy Wightman, Director of Public Health Northamptonshire said:

“The vaccine will make an important contribution towards protecting those who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 but we are keen to remind residents that Government advice is that even if you have had both doses of the vaccine, you should continue to follow shielding advice until further notice. Scientists are continuing to assess the impact of vaccination among all groups and until they are confident that you will be sufficiently protected against the disease, please stay at home.”

If you have missed any of our articles this week you can catch up now. We spoke to Harry Dunn’s mum about her fight for justice, heard from a teacher who quit her job over plans to turn a school into an academy, told the story of Kindertransport refugee George Hammerschmidt, brought you the findings of the Northampton Town Football Club loan report and reported on a Covid outbreak at a Wellingborough care home.


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