Friday brief: Police and crime commissioner clings on to power as date is set for panel hearing
Plus news from across the county
Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner Stephen Mold is still in power, despite calls from many quarters for his resignation.
The Conservative politician who was elected into the role in 2016, is currently in the eye of the storm following his controversial appointment of friend Nicci Marzec to the role of interim fire chief. He had bypassed the statutory police and crime panel to appoint Marzec, an unusual move, which many had questioned the legality of.
Earlier this week Marzec, who has worked closely with the commissioner since he came into office, had to step down, with a statement from the commissioner saying that speculation about their friendship had ‘become the story’. She remains head of paid service in his office but did not receive any payment for her ten days in role.
Since then the Fire Brigades Union, an independent member of the panel, and councillors from the West of the county have said Mold should go and his position is now ‘untenable’.
However, Mold has been keeping a low profile.
The panel will now meet on July 27 to confirm the appointment of Simon TuHill, who had been appointed as deputy chief fire officer and now finds himself facing an immediate promotion.
Labour’s Cllr Zoe McGhee who is on the panel, says that the commissioner should be ready to face some uncomfortable questions about his handling of the situation.
Marzec had been appointed after the former fire chief Mark Jones had suddenly left the force citing health reasons. The details of his departure are being kept as ‘confidential’.
News in brief:
Northamptonshire Police has closed a murder investigation it opened this week.
Tomass Tilders, 27, died on Tuesday, July 11 and police said he had been assaulted on July 4 in the racecourse area of the townThe attack was not reported to police until days after it happened.
Police had opened a murder investigation but following a post mortem have said they know longer believe his death to be murder.
A solar farm that could power thousands of homes has been unanimously approved by councillors.
The Glassthorpe Solar Farm will be built on farmland off Brington Road, north of the M1 in Flore and near Little Brington.
EDF Energy Renewables said the farm of 99,840 solar panels will be used to produce up to 49.9MW of electricity which will be fed into the National Grid.
Darren Cuming, from the company, said the power could power more than 10,000 homes once it is operational.
Planning officers had recommended the project was approved and West Northamptonshire Council’s strategic planning committee gave it the go-ahead at a meeting on Tuesday.
That was despite concerns from countryside charity CPRE Northamptonshire, which said it was “harmful” to the environment because of the agricultural land that will be used.
The committee was told small animals will still be able to graze underneath the panels and that it will result in a net gain of biodiversity on the site.
Report by Nathan Briant, local democracy reporter
A plan to borrow £450,000 to buy equipment to speed up how quickly West Northamptonshire Council can fill in potholes has been given the go-ahead.
The plan to buy a JCB Pothole Pro and another Thermal Road Repair (TRR) machine was taken ahead of the authority’s cabinet agreeing to it on Tuesday.
In council papers, it said that was “due to the priority of [the project]” and so they can be used as quickly as possible.
The Pothole Pro and the TRR machine will make repairing roads much quicker, the council said.
Earlier this year Councillor Phil Larratt, the cabinet member for environment, transport, highways and waste, visited JCB’s Uttoxeter factory in Staffordshire and took another visit to Stoke to see it being used.
Both machines are expected to be delivered to the council either this month or next month.
Cllr Larratt said: “Hopefully as a result [of the purchases] the people of West Northamptonshire will see improvements and better repairs actually happening out on the streets.”
He said there will still be emergency potholes that will need to be filled in temporarily and then filled in permanently later but that the equipment will enable the authority to do a “far better job” in places.
Report by Nathan Briant
*This is the last report we will feature from Nathan as he is sadly moving on to pastures new. His reporting on both unitary councils has helped report on what decisions are being made locally and we’d like to thank him for his reports.
South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom has brought up the issue of bullying within schools in parliament.
At a debate on Monday Leadsom asked the parliamentary under-secretary for education Claire Coutinho about how the behaviour hibs initiative, which was introduced last year is going.
The initiative sees outstanding schools linked with schools which need assistance with pupil behaviour.
Leadsom asked Coutinho: “So many constituents write to me about the problems their children are experiencing. How are the behaviour hubs making a difference in schools and tackling the bullying that is so prevalent, particularly as a result of online harms and social media, which are all too frequent?”
Coutinho replied: “We are confident that the behaviour hubs programme is helping schools to create calm, understanding and positive environments by spreading best practice. The behaviour hubs programme is being evaluated and impact assessed. We will publish an interim report in 2024.
🍻 Annual event Tollyfest is taking place at the Tollemache Arms in Harrington from 5pm today until Sunday. More details here.
🎵 Tribute band Fleetwood Bac is playing at the Corby Cube tonight. More details and how to get tickets here.
🍏 The Northampton sausage and cider festival takes place today and tomorrow at Franklin’s Gardens.