Four weeks underground

Plus: Good news on Covid contact-tracing, the latest on the Cobblers scandal and a last ditch attempt to save some mature trees in Kettering

This week’s Friday brief has an update on a Kettering-born academic’s underground protest, concerns about possible tree felling in Kettering’s new cultural project, the latest on the Cobblers stadium scandal and brings some good news about contact tracing improvements.

Larch Maxey, the Kettering born academic, has now been living underneath Euston station for four weeks. The full-time climate change activist is one of just a few HS2 Rebellion protestors still underground. 

After digging tunnels in secret they moved into the tunnels last month in a bid to stop the work of HS2 contractors and raise awareness of the multi billion pound project to build a new high speed rail network from London to the North.

This week the eviction team has tried to gain access via a new tunnel and Larch is now living in isolation in a part of the tunnel on his own. Some fellow protestors, including the teenage son of famous environmental activist Swampy, have left the tunnels voluntarily in order to preserve food rations for the others.

Family member Stacey Maxey said she spoke to Larch yesterday from his underground bunker and he was in good spirits. She said the family are concerned about him and worry for his safety but support him in his efforts to bring about urgent action on climate change.

Read more about Larch’s story here.

Covid contact-tracing improvements

The county’s director of public health has said 90 per cent of people who test positive for Covid and their contacts are now being contacted.

The authority is second highest in the county behind Rutland for the number of people who are being traced.

Lucy Wightman said the effort was impressive in light of the higher number of Covid cases in Northamptonshire over recent weeks which has seen many areas above the national average rate. Cases are now dropping as the second wave of the virus is on the decline across the country, although cases are dropping slower in Corby, leading to fears the town could be stuck in lockdown when the national measures come to an end.

Latest on the football club missing millions

This week Northampton Town Football Club Supporters Trust wrote to the Lord responsible for raising the scandal in the House of Lords to express their concern over the findings of the recent report into Northampton Borough Council's handling of the loan. The letter to Lord Kennedy said:

"Given the findings of KPMG in relation to the conduct of certain NBC officers and councillors the Trust board is strongly of the opinion that the reasoning of KPMG for no civil legal action is without merit and that KPMG's recommendation should not be followed...Not to take appropriate legal action in such circumstances would set a dangerous precedent."

The council's response to the report will be heard at a meeting on Monday night.

Last ditch attempt to save mature trees in Kettering

Residents in Kettering have come together to object to development plans which would see a number of mature trees being chopped down to make way for an extension to the town's cultural quarter. Earlier this week Kettering Borough Council said the plans had been changed to save as many trees as possible on the site but campaigners say the information provided about the new plans has been inconsistent and are now seeking further reassurances before work is due to take place next week.

The group Save Kettering's Heritage Quarter Trees met last night to discuss their next move and is considering carrying out an online protest on Zoom as they do not want to breach Covid restrictions by staging a protest at the site. 

"We understand that the extension of the art gallery will be a benefit to the community but we should be looking at ways to do that while at the same time protecting these mature trees. This is a last ditch attempt to save the trees, if we don't do anything we'll be abandoning a cause that many people care deeply about," Adrian Watts a member of the group, said. 

A petition set up by the group has received just over 900 signatures and their Facebook page now has 468 members. Campaigners say they have been promised a meeting with the development team at the council next week.

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