Friday brief: Labour leader backs councillor who showed hate cleric around Guildhall
Plus news from around the county
Leader of the Labour group on West Northamptonshire Council Wendy Randall says she fully supports Cllr Enam Haque, who this week made national news after giving a Muslim hate cleric a tour of the historic guidhall.
GB News ran a story about Bangladesh preacher Enayutullah Abbasi, who has in the past called for the beheading of non-muslims, visiting Northampton’s Guildhall on June 16 and being shown aaround by Cllr Haque.
The investigation by the channel led to a number of venues in London and the Midlands cancelling Abbasi’s talks, and the cleric returning to Bangladesh.
Cllr Randall told NN Journal how events unfolded after she received notification from the council’s democratic services team saying that GB news was about to run the story.
She then called Cllr Haque who had not opened an email from the council telling him about what GB news was about to broadcast.
“He said ‘I am so sorry. I had no idea. I just got a phone call out of the blue.’
She added: “There is no way I would ever think that Enam would be involved in stirring up any kind of hatred.
“I believe him and I think across the other parties they do.”
Cllr Randall said her faith in Cllr Haque is so strong that if it did turn out she was wrong, then she would resign from her post.
Cllr Haque represents the Castle ward and before that was a councillor on the former borough council.
NN Journal spoke to Cllr Haque who said it was an ‘innocent mistake’ and he had reiterated the comment given to other media condemning Abbasi’s views.
He said the Labour Party had carried out an internal investigation and said he has been told the matter is now closed.
News in brief
Kettering’s leisure complex will remain open for at least another two months after the operators came to a deal.
Compass Group, which has been running the Kettering Conference Centre for several years, released a statement earlier this week saying that it had come to an agreement with Phoenix Leisure Management, which will take over from September 4. The theatre, sports centre and health centre will remain open but the larger conference centre will close.
Compass had shocked the staff, users and the local council back in May when it announced it would close on July 3. It said it was struggling to make a profit due to a rise in energy and operating costs.
The North unitary had been involved in talks between the two organisations and at a heated council meeting last week had been accused of not being transparent about what was going on.
After the new deal was announced leader Jason Smithers said:
“I’m absolutely delighted that all parties have been able to agree a way forward which sees the elements of the complex that play such a vital role in the local community stay open at no additional cost to the taxpayer.”
Long standing Northampton Labour councillor Danielle Stone has been selected as the candidate for next May’s police and crime commissioner election’s. Stone, who has been an active councillor for the past 12 years, says she will campaign on community policing.
“I have campaigned for safer communities for many years. It is wrong that many people feel unsafe, in their own homes, own streets, and neighbourhoods.
“Crime in Northamptonshire is far too high. Serious violent and sexual crimes, retail crime and vehicle crimes top the list. We must tackle the causes of knife crime. We need more support for domestic abuse agencies and victims. We need resources, visible policing and better engagement with the community, to create safe communities.
“It’s time we had people at the top who understand communities and partnership working. I will challenge the Police and the Fire services to adopt a community centred approach to tackle crime and the causes of crime, to make our communities safer.”
Current police and crime commissioner Conservative Stephen Mold has been in post since 2016.
A father who murdered his nurse wife and their two children will be sentenced at Northampton Crown Court on Monday. Saju Chelavalel, 52, previously of Kettering, has admitted killing his wife Anju Asok, 35, and their two children - Jeeva Saju, 6, and Janvi Saju, 4 at their Kettering town centre home in December.
South Northants MP Andrea Leadsom* backed an attempt to introduce a parliamentary bill which would have banned schools promoting gender transitioning.
Reclaim MP Andrew Bridgen’s bill, which was supported by Hollobone, was condemned as a ‘nasty bill’ by Labour MP Ben Bradshaw who said it would ‘turn the clock back to an age in which the very existence of trans and non-binary people… was simply not acknowledged’.
Bridgen, who was kicked out of the tory party earlier this year for promoting covid conspiracy theories, saw his bill defeated.
*An earlier version had incorrectly said it was Kettering MP Philip Hollobone who had voted with the bill. Apologies for the error.
🎷 Oundle Fringe Festival starts tomorrow and runs until July 15. Find out what’s on here.
🎶 Northampton Complaint’s Choir is performing at the town’s central library in Abington Street on Sunday from 43.30pm to 4.30pm. Find out more and book here.