Friday brief: Audit reveals West Northamptonshire Council’s weaknesses
Plus news from across the county and a bit more on the police and crime commissioner scandal
The annual internal audit into West Northamptonshire Council has revealed a number of weaknesses across the authority, with auditors only able to give a satisfactory assurance.
Auditors who looked at a number of departments said key themes which needed strengthening in the authority included policy and procedures as it found several areas had not clear policies, with some out of date or related to the former councils.
The authority had been intending to keep the entirety of the audit private from the public until NN Journal questioned on what grounds the authority was making the unusual move and then it decided to publish the papers.
However significant parts of the audit report were redacted.
Areas where the authority was declared to be ‘good’ by auditors was on the corporate procurement, payroll, emergency planning and school governance.
Area which were given limited assurance were taxi licensing, corporate health and safety and home to school transport.
In total 188 recommendations were made by the auditors after their look at the departments, however 64 are still outstanding.
The report was discussed by the council’s audit committee on Wednesday evening.
News in brief:
The husband of trainee nurse and mother Diana Dafter was given a life sentence for her brutal killing this week
The jury at Northampton Crown Court found Phillip Dafter guilty, taking just two hours to reach the verdict.
In October last year he had stabbed his wife several times at their home in Lawrence Court, Northampton, before going to a local supermarket to buy more knives to injure himself. He took a train to London Euston and told a conductor when he arrived that he needed to speak to police because ‘I am an evil and bad man’. He admitted killing his wife before being taken to hospital.
He had denied murder and had argued diminished responsibility.
A council ward in Northampton saw an average of about 12 fly-tipping incidents a day from the start of 2022, figures show.
West Northamptonshire Council said there were 6,282 incidents in the Castle ward in the town throughout last year and until June 21 this year.
The authority reported earlier this year that it deals with about 17,000 incidents a year at a cost of more than £750,000.
Council leader Councillor Jonathan Nunn said in June that it is dealing with a “massive number” that was “sadly growing”.
A freedom of information request to the council by the local democracy reporting service, showed the town’s next most fly-tipped ward was Talavera, which had 4,900 fly-tips reported in the same period – equivalent to about nine each day.
Abington was the third most fly-tipped area in Northampton, with 2,240 incidents. That is equivalent of about four a day in that ward.
The council said while it could say which streets have seen the most fly-tipping, it could not provide figures for how many fly-tips had been reported there.
Report by Nathan Briant, local democracy reporter
An extraordinary meeting about the future of Kettering Conference Centre will be held on Thursday. The venue’s future had been up in the air earlier this year after its operator Compass had decided to pull the plug, saying it was not making enough money from the theatre, gym and conference facilities.
After a public protest and intervention by North Northamptonshire Council, the leaseholders Phoenix are set to come up with an agreement with the North unitary to keep the centre running.
An independent councillor has put in a complaint against the police, fire and crime commissioner.
Cllr Ian McCord, who represents Deanshanger, has written to chair of the police, fire and crime panel, Cllr David Smith to make the complaint claiming that commissioner Stephen Mold made an unlawful appointment of friend and colleague Nicci Marzec to the chief fire officer role and also citing multiple beaches of the code of conduct. He also alleges Mold could have committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.
He says in his letter, which has been seen by NN Journal:
“Although Mr Mold and Ms Marzec deny that they are in, or have ever been in a relationship, this requires investigation in order to ensure confidence in the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. Should it prove to be the case that they are in fact a couple, then Mr Mold may have committed offences, namely of failure to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest as set out in the Localism Act 2011 and Misconduct in a Public Office.”
Yesterday Stephen Mold made a public appearance at the police, fire and crime panel, but was not questioned about his controversial appointment of Marzec - who stood down ten days after being given the job.
Two members of the panel walked out of the meeting and the Fire Brigades Union was also not allowed to speak. Firefighters did a mass walkout half way through the meeting.
Mold is refusing to resign despite calls from many quarters. He has apologised for his ‘hasty’ appointment of Marzec.
Read our story from yesterday here
🎪 There’s a circus workshop tomorrow at Northampton market in Commercial street from 11am to 3pm.