Friday brief: Clean air motion voted down
Plus local reaction to the controversial scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda and HMOs are back on the agenda
Just a quick note to say some people may have been receiving their emails later than usual this week. It’s a bit of a glitch across our IT provider’s systems, but rest assured each week day we do send out an original article - it may just take a bit longer than usual some days.
And we’ve been finishing off the final touches to our podcast looking at knife crime issues in the county this week. A version will be sent to local county schools so that students can discuss the issues in their lessons and we’ll be publishing the adult version at the start of May.
NN Friday Focus
A motion put forward by the Labour group in West Northamptonshire calling for action to improve air quality in the area has been voted down by the Conservatives.
The motion, which was debated at a full council meeting last night, called for the authority to “immediately take all steps needed to reduce deaths and illness linked to polluted air, with desperately needed action to also enable us to meet out climate emergency commitments”.
The assistant cabinet member Cllr Colin Morgan said although the motion had some merit his party could not support it.
“We welcome the points but won't be accepting it as a motion as it can’t be amended. We take this seriously…[we’re] happy to keep the dialogue open.”
He also told the meeting that the council had been awarded a £148,000 grant which would allow it to purchase air quality monitors and that there would be a report on air quality at June’s cabinet meeting.
Deputy leader of the Labour group Emma Roberts said the Conservative’s decision to vote against the motion was a ‘huge disappointment’ and hit back at Cllr Morgan’s comments.
“We’ve got a leader’s report that talks about how important this is to us yet this administration won’t support a motion that it quite likes but doesn’t like all of it. While you couldn’t make an amendment you could have contacted me, as did the other group - the Liberal Democrats to talk about potential alterations to the details, so I urge you to do that in future.
“Pollution related diseases disproportionately affect poorer people and disproportionately affect those with protected characteristics. It would be such a shame for this council not to recognise that. This is an environmental issue but it’s also an issue of social justice…if you had political will you could see this through.”
Labour’s plan included:
creating clean air zones throughout the authority’s urban areas
switching the area’s buses, taxis, and council vehicles to low emission/electric ones
creating an air quality action plan
signing up to the Oxford Clean Air Charter
enforcing the law when it comes to idling cars and illegal parking
providing a yearly report, linked to the sustainability plan to update residents on progress.
There were cries of shame as the motion was voted against.
News in brief:
A public meeting took place this week to discuss concerns about Houses in Multiple Occupation (HiMOs) and to call on West Northamptonshire Council to carry out a review into them. Co-chair of the meeting Sally Pagano said:
“It was really good to hear from so many residents, including two HiMO landlords, who run a very good service for their tenants. We are not against HiMOS that are properly run. We are against an oversupply that erodes community and we are against rogue landlords that just take the money and don’t care at all about community.”
Deputy leader of the West Northamptonshire Labour group has confirmed she will not be standing for re-election for any of the party’s leadership roles. This comes after the resignation of Cllr Gareth Eales as leader due to personal reasons. The group will now elect a new leader and deputy leader at its upcoming AGM.
A Northampton library that has been closed since the pandemic first hit is due to reopen in a new location. NN Journal understands that the St James’ Residents Association are the successful bidders to run the area’s community library and that it will move to the Doddridge Centre. It comes after the council’s first preferred bidder was unable to make the venture work. Read an earlier story here
As a migration minister at the Home Office, Corby MP Tom Pursglove has been doing the media rounds this week to discuss the controversial plan to move asylum seekers to Rwanda. Speaking to Nigel Farage on GB News he said:
“We have to be compliant with our international obligations…individuals will be screened on arrival, the determining factor will be whether it is safe for those individuals to be relocated to Rwanda and we’d then want to get on and do that as quickly as possible.”
Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire also spoke about the issue in parliament this week. Hitting out at criticisms of the plan by the Archbishop of Canterbury, she said:
“What I find abhorrent and inexplicable is that many of the opposition benches and even in the top echelons of the Church of England have forgotten images of drowned children…these people are not refugees and asylum seekers, they are coming from France.”
Leadsom’s comments were slammed by many on social media who pointed out that there is no obligation for refugees to claim asylum in the first safe country they reach.
Wellingborough MP Peter Bone has also retweeted supportive posts about the plans.
But the plans have been condemned by local Labour groups. Deputy leader of the West Northants Labour group has written to the area’s MPs to express their concerns. Cllr Emma Roberts wrote:
“I implore you to look to the generous and welcoming spirit of your constituents in West Northants and ask you and the government to reconsider these plans which are ultimately inhumane, expensive, and damaging to the UK’s reputation as an upholder of human rights across the globe”
Corby and East Northants Constituency Labour Party has also condemned the recent announcement. Chair Martyn Reuby said:
“Be under no illusion. The deportation of individuals to Rwanda is a one-way ticket. Tom Pursglove MP during recent television interviews was unable to recall any basic facts about Rwanda – life expectancy or population numbers.
“It is beyond belief that he feels it is acceptable to send individuals to a country that he knows so little about. Rwanda has been subject to genocide, a little over a generation ago and has a leader with a track record of human right abuse. We would urge the government to abandon this appalling proposal and to set up properly staffed and funded immigration centres in the UK where all refugees can apply and have their application processed fairly and with dignity”.
🦖There’ll be family fun in Northampton town centre on Saturday with a group of giant dinosaurs returning to the town. More information here https://www.discovernorthampton.co.uk/the-dinosaurs-are-coming-to-northampton-town-centre/
🎤 Comedian Omid Djalili is performing at the Derngate on Saturday night at 8pm. Tickets available here https://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/whats-on/omid-djalili-2/
🌼There's a Spring Fayre at the United Reform Church on High Street Wellingborough on Saturday between 1.30 - 4pm.