Friday brief: Another Northants council tax blunder
Plus news in brief, our regular Westminster Watch and some things to do at the weekend
Our journalism is possible thanks to the support of our paid members. If you appreciate what we do and would like to receive all our content sign up below
Residents in parts of West Northamptonshire have been incorrectly sent unpaid council tax demands due to an error within the authority’s Revenue and Benefits department.
The issue is the latest in a series of council tax errors in the county since the two new unitaries were set up.
Councillor for Daventry West Wendy Randall has been hearing from local people who say the letters they received threatened legal action if payments weren’t made.
“People are being told they will be taken to court if they don’t pay by a certain date even though they’ve already paid. Some residents have told me that they’ve tried to ring up to sort it out in their lunch breaks but haven’t been able to get through because they’d been on hold too long.
“The people I’ve spoken to have all been in the Daventry area but I understand people in some other places have been affected.”
Cllr Randall understands that the error relates to people who pay their council tax at a post office.
Last summer we reported that in the West some council tax payments were being left unallocated with other people having their money wrongly returned to them. In the North the leader of the council Jason Smithers was forced to apologise twice in one week for separate council tax errors which occurred there.
When contacted by NN Journal, West Northamptonshire Council acknowledged the error but said it had only affected a small number of people.
News in brief
Resident Shirley Jones took aim at the police and the police and crime commissioner’s office yesterday at a public meeting. She made reference to the force not being able to access CCTV footage within six months and a subsequent complaint she had against the force took eight weeks to acknowledge.
Commissioner Mold, whose office has overall responsibility for complaint handling apologised for the excessive time taken. He said someone from the complaints team had recently left to become a detective within the force and also said the team deals with ‘lots of spurious complaints’.
The county’s first neurodiversity hub will open in Wellingborough later this month. Neurodiversity Networks CIC is marking it’s launching by asking neurodiverse people to enter some artwork which will be shown in their Silver Street hub until August.
Founder Jannine Perryman said: “We are looking for work which focuses on one, or more, of the following areas: painting, drawing, photography, digital, print making, written prose or poetry, collage, textiles or stitch or mixed media.
“We hope everyone will join us in this momentous occasion for the neurodiverse community. The opening of the hub in Wellingborough will allow us to offer a range of support and expert services for children and adults with an extensive range of conditions including ADHD, autism and dyslexia, which up until now has been delivered online.”
Children’s commissioner Andrew Christie has had his term of office ended and he will now be replaced by a children’s improvement board to see the county’s under par children’s social services department.
The last public report from the commissioner was in Summer 2020. Since then a new independent trust was set up in November 20202. This has not yet produced an annual report to councillors.
The long running issue of Kettering General Hospital’s rebuild was heard in Westminster once again after the town’s Conservative MP Phillip Hollobone secured a debate.
In 2019 the government promised £46m for a new urgent care hub to help alleviate pressure on the hospital’s A and E department which is seeing twice the number of patients it was built for.
After a commitment that KGH would have an onsite rebuild and become one of the touted 40 Boris hospitals the plans were adjusted and since then there has been toing and froing between the trust and the hospital, the details of which are not entirely clear.
Yesterday the MP told health minister Edward Argar the hospital’s bosses were straining at the leash to get the redevelopment project under way. He also said that if the hospital is not allowed to begin work on its full business case approval process this summer, the hospital will miss its 2023 target date for substantial construction on the site.
In response the minister said: “ . . . . my officials have been in touch with the trust recently, most recently yesterday and before that on 26 or 27 January, asking the trust to put forward its proposals for those enabling works. We need those to progress the business case. My officials continue to nudge the trust gently, saying, “Please submit your proposals for that and the business case for it”.
Read the debate in full here:
Independent of the week
The Egg Shed at Abbey Farm
This week’s independent business of the week comes highly recommended by a regular NN Journal reader. The Egg Shed is situated on Wellingborough Road, Wollaston and also sells locally produced milk, preserves, oils and honey. Their website says: “everyone loves to tell us that they are the best eggs they have ever tried.” We’ve been told the same!
🗡The Valhalla exhibition at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery allows you to explore Viking attitudes towards life and death. It is running until Monday April 18, more details here: https://www.northamptonmuseums.com/directory-record/433/
🎭Dick Whittington is on at the Castle Theatre until Sunday. Tickets are available here: https://www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/castle-theatre/Show/58f33745-0832-ec11-aa3c-f3ccf74991a6/dick-whittington
🍸There’s a beach party at Blue Mountain Yard at Rushden Lakes on Saturday night. Enjoy cocktails and reggae music from 8pm
Oundle by-election online hustings
Oundle residents will go to the polls on Thursday, February 17 to elect a new unitary councillor following the resignation of absent Conservative Annabel de Capell Brooke.
We’re inviting the four candidates (from each of the major political parties) to an online hustings next Wednesday, which we’ll put onto our YouTube channel the following day.
If you live in the area and have a question for the candidates please email firstname.lastname@example.org