Friday brief: Former chief fire officer had been through a disciplinary investigation before he left the force
Plus news on the chief constable and a review into Kettering hospital's special baby unit
As usual there is lots going on in Northamptonshire, with focus once again on the police force following the chief constable Nick Adderley being referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct for wearing military medals that were not his own. More from us on this in our news in brief section.
We also have an exclusive this week about a disciplinary investigation that was held earlier this year into the former chief fire officer Mark Jones. And there is news of Kettering General Hospital carrying out a review as to whether its special baby care services are financially and clinically sustainable.
The county has a local democracy reporter again attending meetings of the unitary councils in the North and West of the county, Nadia Lincoln, and we will be using her reports regularly in our Friday briefs.
Former chief fire officer had been through a disciplinary investigation before he left the force
Northamptonshire’s chief fire officer Mark Jones had been under investigation before his sudden departure, NN Journal can exclusively report.
Mark Jones left the service on July 7, with the police, fire and crime commissioner Stephen Mold saying his departure was due to health reasons.
Mold then went on to appoint his close friend Nicci Marzec to the position, a decision which was made without the necessary legal sign off by the county’s police, fire and crime panel which scrutinises the decisions of the commissioner. Marzec subsequently resigned and also left her role as head of paid service of the commissioner’s office.
Now we can reveal that Jones, who joined the force in July last year after a recommendation by Stephen Mold, had faced an internal disciplinary investigation in the months before his departure. An outside person had been called in to carry out the investigation which concerned alleged derogatory comments made by Jones about firefighters, as well as other discriminatory comments.
NN Journal understands Jones was cleared in the report and no further action was taken.
We approached the commissioner’s office for a comment about the investigation and its finding and were told his office ‘did not wish to respond’.
Jones’ departure has been surrounded in mystery for many months. When an announcement was made on July 7 by Stephen Mold, it said Jones had left by ‘mutual agreement’ and cited he had been affected by injuries and wanted to take time to recover.
In the days after his departure the commissioner refused to answer questions about when it was finalised that Jones would leave the service and whether he received a financial settlement.
At a panel meeting last month to investigate the commissioner’s appointment of his friend to the chief fire officer post, Mold repeatedly refused to answer questions about the circumstances around Jones’ exit.
News in brief:
The chief executive of Kettering General Hospital told the board yesterday that a review is being carried out into whether its neonatal special baby care services are ‘clinically and financially sustainable’.
Last month the hospital announced that following a safety review it had decided to take the ‘precautionary’ step to redesignate its local neonatal service to a special baby care service, meaning services for babies born between 27 and 32 weeks would be given intensive care from elsewhere. This is due to a lack of consultant capacity.
At the board meeting Deborah Needham gave more detail and said:
“Over the last month we have been working really closely with NHS England, specialist commissioners and also the ICB [integrated care board] and on 18 September we jointly took the decision to change the designation of our local neonatal unit to a special baby care unit.
“The effect that this has had on our babies and families so far has been very, very minimal. I can’t emphasise that enough. We still encourage our mums to come here, but what this has given us is the opportunity to strengthen our rotas, strengthen the resource that we have but also to provide some additional training and support to our children and young people colleagues.
“We are currently undertaking a review of our LNU (local Neonatal Unit) and special baby care services to make sure it is both clinically and financially sustainable for the future and I would expect that to conclude in the coming months.”
The board also made the point that pregnant women should use the hospital as usual and the hospital will decide whether they need to be signposted elsewhere.
Also at the chair of the board John Macdonald said reputational damage should not be a consideration for the hospital when making decisions.
Mr MacDonald, who took on the role of chair of both the county’s hospital trusts in April, made the comments during a discussion about staff whistleblowers, citing the Countess of Chester Hospital case and killer nurse Lucy Letby who was able to murder a number of babies while in the case of the hospital.
Asked what his view was of reputational damage, he said:
“We should not be including reputational damage in our risk assessments.”
He said quality of services and patient safety should be put first and if those were correct then a good reputation would follow.
The chairman of the South Atlantic Medal Association - a charity which represents Falkland war veterans - has said he has offered his assistance to both the Independent office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the police commissioner’s officer in the investigation into the chief constable.
National newspapers broke the story recently of how chief constable Nick Adderley had been incorrectly wearing medals that were not his own at a police awards event earlier this summer.
Adderley responded by saying the medals belonged to his brothers and said it was a ‘private family matter’.
Tom Herring said he had access to the list of people who were awarded the medal and had passed on information to the IOPC.
He said Adderley should be dismissed for his conduct and an apology would not do. He said his inbox was full of former military personnel getting in touch about the matter.
NN Journal understands the police and crime commissioner and the chief constable are set to have an important meeting today about the matter.
The long stalled Isham bypass has been put back on the agenda again by the Conservative government, which has listed it in a series of schemes that will benefit from the proposed scrapping of part of the HS2 project. A stretch of the A43 between Northampton and Kettering is also marked to receive some funding.
West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has been accused of pushing concerns about e-scooters ‘into the long grass’ after a motion to halt any extensions of trials in the area was shot down.
Councillor Emma Roberts called for WNC to recognise the dangers the e-scooters caused in the county and to reevaluate the scheme before it renews.
Despite some general agreement from the council in a meeting last week that there was something ‘fundamentally wrong’ with the Voi trial, the matter was sent to scrutiny to be assessed at a later date.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Roberts, who represents Delapre and Rushmere for the Labour Party, said:
“I genuinely believe that now is the time that we must do something about the scooter trials in Northampton. We’ve seen significant injury, significant waste, and significant damage.
“I’m hugely disappointed that that’s the decision you’ve chosen to make tonight because you could absolutely rubber stamp us to start work on this today. This is you not wanting to say that we have got this wrong.”
The current trial of Voi e-scooters is set to run until May 2024, after it was launched in 2020 and received repeated extensions from the council.
Since the scheme began, two people have died in West Northants due to incidents involving the scooters, and others have suffered injuries. Nationally, reported crashes and casualties involving e-scooters have risen each year across the 30 areas where the trials are taking place.
Report by Nadia Lincoln, LDR
😂 Improvisation comedy act The Noise Next door are performing at the Kettering Arts Centre tonight from 7.30pm. Tickets from £15.
🍸 There’s a gin and rum festival tomorrow at the County Ground, Abington Avenue, Northampton from 12.30pm to 10.30pm.