Friday brief: ‘Misogyny is alive and well in West Northants’
Anger over new appointments at WNC, some good news about one of our stories this week, news from Westminster and some things for the weekend
There were heated scenes at the annual meeting of West Northants Council last night with accusations of misogyny and ‘jobs for the boys’ as the loss of two key women were discussed among councillors.
Today we also have some good news from one of our stories earlier in the week, the latest from our MPs in Westminster and some things to do this weekend.
Opposition councillors expressed their anger at changes made at the annual meeting of West Northants Council last night. The most controversial decisions were the appointment of Cllr Ian McCord as chair of the scrutiny committee replacing Labour’s Danielle Stone and the loss of Cllr Lizzy Bowen as cabinet member for regeneration.
Labour, the Lib Dems and independent Cllr Julie Davenport spoke about the gender balance in key positions as well as their concerns that McCord, a former leading Conservative in the area, has taken on the role as chair of scrutiny.
“We have an issue with democracy. We run a cabinet system. Who is holding the power? Who are the decision makers? A handful of mostly white, men. I would call this a democratic deficit. Misogyny is alive and well in West Northants.
“...Bad Governance is where you scrutinise yourself and put into position people who look like you, sound like you and think like you. My summary is that West Northants has a democratic deficit. A crisis of representation. And no mechanisms in place for good governance,” Cllr Stone told the meeting.
Leader of the Lib Dem group Sally Beardsworth said she was sad to hear of the loss of Lizzy Bowen and Danielle Stone.
“I’m very sad to have lost more women, I hope we’re not turning into a misogynistic council, with a cabinet where two people are women and eight are men,” she said.
Talk of misogyny did not go down well with some Conservatives with Cllr Phil Larratt saying:
“I don’t think we should take anything from Cllr Stone about sexuality, women and politics. This is a party that has already had two women prime ministers, they haven’t even had a leader of the party let alone a prime minister.”
A number of councillors also spoke about how the appointment of Cllr McCord would look to the public after he recently won an appeal against his expulsion from the Conservative party over allegations made against him.
Leader of the council Jonathan Nunn didn’t take kindly to the criticism, saying that Cllr Meredith and Cllr Davenport (who had criticised the appointments) were acting out the ‘plot of a soap opera’. Cllr Meredith demanded this comment was withdrawn but Cllr Nunn refused.
Tensions were also raised over the actions of the new chair of the council Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage who took his new position for the first time last night. A number of members complained that he was cutting people off midway through speaking and Labour’s Cllr Emma Roberts reminded him that the council’s constitution refers to his position as chair not chairman as he had referred to himself.
“Can we follow our constitution, the paperwork refers to you as chair, not chairman, we have moved on, it’s an important point…I have huge respect for you but if you’re going to spend your year cutting people off if we say something you don’t like, I don’t this is going to work,” she told him.
He replied that he wished to be referred to as chairman and that he took on the role with ‘pride and honour’.
Later in the meeting there were sniggers from some Conservative members as councillors emphasised the title of chairman rather than chair.
News in brief
Just hours after our Monday story was published about visa delays for a Ukrainian family hoping to come to England, they were contacted by the Home Office to confirm their documents were ready. Viktoria, Ossama and Karim arrived in Northampton earlier this week and are settling into their new life. They told NN Journal “everything is amazing, we finally feel relaxed and calm”.
Northamptonshire Police is holding a number of knife amnesty events this week as part of its week of action on knife crime. This comes following yet another incident of a group of young men seen fighting with a knife in Northampton. More details of the amnesty events can be found here.
Kettering Town Council is now on the hunt for a new headquarters. The authority was given a one year lease of the borough council’s former offices at Bowling Green Road by the North unitary when it began last May and now has had the lease extended for six months to find a new base. The authority will consider at its AGM next Thursday (May 26) funding three street food Saturdays throughout the summer which will also double as farmers markets.
Wellingborough MP Peter Bone and Corby’s Tom Pursglove both defended a controversial deportation flight to Jamaica this week. Pursglove who is the Home Office minister for tackling migration told the Commons that some of those due to be on the flight had been convicted of serious offences such as rape and sexual assault of children. However critics say some are also thought to be victims of grooming by county line gangs and some others have not reoffended years after leaving prison.
Despite more than 100 people due to be deported on the flight, only seven were actually removed due to legal challenges. The Independent reports that one of those taken off the deportation list is a former banker who was wrongly detained while awaiting the outcome of an application for leave to remain.
During a friendly exchange between the neighbouring Northamptonshire MPs in a debate on the issue Bone said:
“My constituents, and I guess most in the United Kingdom, find it unbelievable that convicted murderers, rapists and paedophiles who are foreign national offenders are not returned immediately to their countries. Can the Minister tell us how on earth last-minute appeals can stop people going on flights? Surely we can at least have a cut-off date beyond which no appeals can be made. Maybe he can also tell the House whether he has been on one of these flights and what the atmosphere is like.”
To which Pursglove replied:
“...I have been on a removal flight to Poland a few months ago, which was a useful experience for me to understand the end-to-end process. I am grateful for his support for the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, which introduces the one-stop processes and priority removal notices that should enable us to break this cycle of endless dither and delay…”
Independent of the week, Coffee Barne
Possibly one of the nicest places to have a tasty snack and drink in the county, Coffee Barne is situated in a lovely spot in the centre of Higham Ferrers. The popular venue is hosting Jubilee Afternoon Tea this Thursday and Friday (June 2 and 3) from midday to 3pm. Call 01933 314001 to book.
🎭Barry Humphreys, the man behind Dame Edna Everage, is telling his story tonight and tomorrow on stage at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton. Tickets available here
🎙There’s a Northern Soul night at The Corby Irish Club in Corby tomorrow from 7pm. Tickets £5 on the door and proceeds go to Breast Cancer Research.
🚗The VW Breakout three day festival starts today and runs until Sunday at the SantaPod raceway. Tickets from £5 here
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