Friday brief: No sign of formal investigation at Northants cricket club after racism allegations

Plus the government gives a £5m grant to help struggling families in Northants, a row about Xmas lights switch on, regular feature Westminster Watch and some things to do this weekend

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Northamptonshire County Cricket Club says it is having discussions with former player Maurice Chambers about his racism claims, but as yet no formal investigation has been launched.

The testimony of former Yorkshire player Aseem Rafiq at a select committee this week has further exposed the issue of racism within English cricket, in which Black and Asian players has been taunted and treated unfavourably for selection.

Former Steelback player Maurice Chambers spoke out about the racism he suffered at Essex and Northants in a recent interview with The Cricketer and this week the Northants club issued a statement saying racism is the antithesis of what it stands for and it is disappointed to hear of Chamber’s experience. 

But unlike Essex, which has called in a lawyer to do an independent investigation, Northamptonshire County Cricket Club has not launched an official investigation into the allegations concerning an unnamed player, who Chambers said taunted his race and bullied him. Jamaican-born Chambers played at the club for two years from 2014.

Asked directly by NN Journal whether it would be starting an investigation into Chambers’ allegations, as has been done by other clubs embroiled in the sporting scandal, the club refused to answer directly.

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A spokesman said:

“The club does not currently have any further update aside from our initial statement released alongside the article. We are currently in discussion with Maurice and are working to support him as well as all employees.”

The English Cricket Board (ECB) made up of sporting clubs from across the country, come under fire for how it has handled the situation so far, with MP Julie Elliott, saying it’s regulatory and disciplinary processes sound like ‘the wild west’ and are ‘open to abuse’.

Government now says the ECB is on notice and if it does not make immediate changes, the government could step in.

Rafiq’s testimony has rocked the sport, with a number of high profile players and former internationals named by Rafiq as either engaging in or turning a blind eye to racist abuse.

Rafiq had to apologise yesterday after historic ant-semitic Facebook messages were exposed by The Times.

News in brief

  • The county’s two unitary councils have been given £5m by the government as part of a Household Support Fund to help families experiencing hardship over the winter period. The cash will pay for school holiday vouchers over the Christmas half term as well as create a fuel bank to help identified struggling families cover the costs of heating this winter in the face of increasing costs and inflation. 

  • A row has broken out about who will turn on Wellingborough’s Christmas lights next Saturday. The unitary council’s Conservative deputy leader Helen Howell who represents Raunds, will do the switch on in her capacity as cabinet member for culture and tourism.

    The news, which was made public yesterday, has angered many, with Labour Wellingborough unitary councillor Valerie Anslow saying she has written to Cllr Howell suggesting it is done in tandem with a member of the community, as has always been done.

    “The lights should be switched on by someone who has made a contribution to the local community. There has been no discussion and can’t remember it ever having been done by a local politician before.”

  • Staff at North Northamptonshire Council were thanked on a number of occasions by councillors at yesterday’s executive meeting. Gratitude was expressed towards employees for winning a number of grant bids and working weekends to do so. The authority currently has a large number of vacancies, which has been raised as a concern by local politicians.

Westminster Watch

Home Office minister and MP for Corby and East Northants Tom Pursglove faced a grilling this week at a Home Affairs select committee meeting on people crossing the Channel on small boats to claim asylum. 

Pursglove struggled to provide clear answers to some of the questions throughout the meeting. He said there had been 23,000 people arriving on small boats this year but when asked by the chair of the group Yvette Cooper how this compared with the previous year he simply said it ‘was an increase’. Cooper pushed him for a figure but was told he didn’t ‘have it to hand’. 

Cooper told him “these were specific figures that we had written to you in advance and asked for,” at which point he said he’d been advised the number is 8,500 meaning there has been an increase of 14,500 people arriving. 

He struggled further when asked about the number of people returned to an EU country since January saying:

“Returns relating to small boat arrivals, the answer to that is 294 overall.”

When asked again if that was the number for this year, he said:

“The answer for this year is 5.”

On the same day as the meeting, the Home Office put out a ‘joint statement’ saying the Home Secretary and French Interior Minister had agreed to strengthen cooperation on this issue and that commitments made by the countries previously on preventing “100 per cent of channel crossings” would be accelerated. The French Embassy for the UK later tweeted that this was incorrect and was not part of a joint statement.

Community news

The Off the Streets organisation which was formed after the murder of 16 year-old Dylan Holliday has teamed up with the Corby-based East Midlands Knife Amnesty group to help spread an anti-knife crime message across North Northamptonshire. 

“We want to support each other and work in partnership where we can. Off The Streets is keen to work with any groups that want to tackle knife crime,” Rav Jones from Off The Streets said. 

Both groups have recently secured bleed control kits to be distributed in North Northamptonshire and they are hoping to also have more amnesty bins arriving soon.

Independent of the Week

Bean Hive, Kettering

This award winning ‘mini department store’ has become something of a destination shop in Kettering. The friendly customer service combined with a wide range of unique gifts, cards and home items makes the Bean Hive an ideal spot to head to in the run-up to Christmas.

NN Culture

🎄Lots of Christmas events are kicking off this weekend. There’s a Christmas Light switch-on event tonight in Market Harborough from 6pm, Wicksteed Park in Kettering has a craft and gift market on Saturday and Sunday between 10.30 - 4pm and Higham Ferrers is holding its annual Christmas Sparkle with fun fair rides, market, refreshments and Santa’s grotto.

🎸The band Big Country is playing at the Roadmender on Saturday night. Tickets are still available here: www.seetickets.com/tour/big-country-wonderland-

📖There’s a literary festival at Moulton community centre on Saturday from 10am. There’s a packed lineup including Sunday Times bestselling author Elly Griffiths. More details can be found here: www.seetickets.com/tour/big-country-wonderland-


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