The candidates who want your vote

Those standing for election to the two new unitary councils have been announced

If you’re new to NN Journal you can sign up here for daily news sent to your email. As it’s elections season we’ll be running a series of articles over the coming weeks looking at the issues that matter in Northants and what the political parties are pledging to do.

By Sarah Ward

Last Friday the names of those hoping to be elected to Northamptonshire’s two new unitary councils were published.

Seven of the eight predecessor councils were run by the Conservatives who have dominated the national and local political scene here for the last decade.

But with the financial collapse of the county council (the reason for the enforced unitary reorganisation) and the disastrous loan to Northampton Town Football Club, which looks to have cost the taxpayers of the town up to £17m, the dominant party is not going into these elections on the best of form. Whether this has any bearing on how the Northamptonshire electorate decides to vote, remains to be seen, but what is certain is there is a significant number of Green Party candidates and Independents who are hoping to upset the status quo on May 6th.

The Green Party is fielding 19 candidates in the West and 22 in the North and in some wards, such as Clover Hill in Kettering, the party is fielding multiple candidates.

There are 12 independent candidates hoping for election in the North and 14 in the West, a considerable rise on recent years.

There are also three of Nigel Farage’s Reform candidates standing and the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition is fielding five candidates in the West. Northants Save Our Services also has candidate Dave Green in the Duston East ward. The far right BNP has put up a candidate in Boothville and Parklands and the Alliance for Democracy (a coalition including the right wing English Democrats) is also fielding one candidate.

West Northants

93 councillors will be elected to 31 wards that will make up the new West Northamptonshire Council. For the first time the areas of Daventry, South Northants and Northampton will merge and form one authority, delivering the full gamut of local authorities across the areas.

All four leaders of the former Conservative-run councils that were closed down to make way for the new unitary (Matt Golby, Richard Auger, Ian McCord and Jonathan Nunn) have stood for election to the new authority. 

The Conservative Party has fielded the most candidates across the West followed by the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats. 

Notable candidates include Liberal Democrat Sally Beardsworth who was awarded the freedom of Northampton last month. The leader of the Labour Party in Northampton Danielle Stone is also standing in the Castle Ward and Phil Larratt, who has been a Conservative councillor since the 1980s also wants residents to elect him to the Nene Valley ward. 

Absences from the election include long standing Conservatives Brandon Eldred and Tim Hadland (who were part of the Northampton Borough Council cabinet that signed off the football club loan).

NN Journal understands that Conservatives Ian McCord, Jonathan Nunn and former deputy leader of Northamptonshire County Council Lizzie Bowen may throw their hat into the ring for leader of the new authority if their party wins another majority.

North Northants

78 councillors from 26 wards will be elected to the North Northamptonshire Council. All but one of the leaders of the former five councils that have been closed down to create the new council will stand again for re-election. Stephen North, Martin Griffiths, Russell Roberts and Matt Golby have all stood again, but the only Labour leader Tom Beattie has bowed out. His deputy Jean Addison has stood for election alongside other long standing Corby labour politicians Mark Pengelly and John McGhee who is joined by his daughter Zoe on the Kingswood Ward ballot paper.

Conservatives Ray Boyd and Ray Jackson - who were on Corby Council in the early 2000s are standing again for re-election alongside David Sims and Kevin Watts.

Liberal Democrat Chris Stanbra is hoping to get elected alongside five other candidates from the same party.

In East Northants the long standing Conservative husband and wife duos of Andy and Gill Mercer, David and Barbara Jenney and David and Wendy Brackenbury are hoping for election to the new council.

A number of Conservatives from East Northants and Wellingborough are also filling out the ballot paper in Corby.

In Kettering the Green party is fielding seven candidates, with three standing in the Clover Hill ward where they have been a leading part of the Save Weekley Hall Woods campaign.

Labour have candidates in all Kettering wards and established councillors such as Anne Lee, former mayor Kelli Watts and Clark Mitchell want to be elected.

In Wellingborough former mayor Jo Beirne has left the Conservative party to stand as an independent against her former leader Martin Griffiths. Labour’s former leader Andrew Scarborough is joined by a number of old hands such as Adam Henley and Valerie Anslow on the ballot paper.

NN Journal has been told from a number of sources that Conservative Jason Smithers is the front runner for leader if his party wins control of the new council, but he may be up against former East Northants leader Stephen North and Helen Harrison may be a dark horse.

Five members of Northamptonshire County Council’s failed cabinet want your vote

The new unitary councils being elected to next month were created due to the financial collapse of Northamptonshire County Council in 2018.

Over the summer of that year all of the authorities (apart from Labour-led Corby) voted reluctantly to abolish themselves and at the time there were calls from many opposition councillors that those who were on the cabinet of Northamptonshire County Council should not stand in the unitary elections.

But now five of the nine who sat on the cabinet in January 2018 want the electorate to nominate them for political office. Then leader Heather Smith left politics almost straight away, after a public mauling from the county’s seven Conservative MPs. Cllr Robin Brown - who was in charge of the finance - continued in the council until it wound down but became a very quiet figure, as did Cllr Sylvia Hughes. Cllr Ian Morris, went on to serve in the cabinet until last month, but has now decided to leave local politics.

The councillors who want to be voted in to take decisions about Northamptonshire’s local services again are: Matt Golby (who stands in Duston West); Andre Gonzalez De Savage (East Hunsbury) and  Bill Parker (Clover Hill).

Lizzie Bowen and Malcolm Longley (who joined the cabinet shortly before the financial implosion) are also standing in East Hunsbury and Braunston & Crick wards respectively.

The candidates for all of the town and parish elections were also announced on Friday as well as the police, fire and crime candidates.

All details can be found on the North and West websites.

In the run up to election day NN Journal will focus on local issues such as housing and environment and look at what pledges the political parties are making in these areas

In other news - national mourning

Following the death of Prince Philip on Friday the country has gone into a period of national mourning. Election canvassing was put on hold and will commence again tomorrow.

The county’s two new councils websites have been drained of colour as a mark of respect and NN Journal has seen an email sent to officers and councillors by the chief executive of North Northamptonshire Council Rob Bridge.

Among information about the flags flying at half mast until after the Duke’s funeral and the council sending a letter of condolence to the Queen, the memo instructs staff how to dress and behave.

Rob Bridge wrote: “We have asked staff to consider their attire and conduct carefully to ensure that they are respectful at all times in this period of national mourning.”