By Natalie Bloomer
To receive all our independent reporting from Northants without the ads and pop-ups join our mailing list below
A front runner to become leader of West Northamptonshire council has been suspended.
Just hours before the West Northamptonshire Conservative group’s important meeting this evening to elect their new leader, Cllr Ian McCord, former leader of South Northamptonshire Council, has been dealt a major blow.
NN Journal understands that McCord was suspended by his local association last night following a number of complaints made against him.
“Obviously the group is meeting tonight and this is the last thing we needed right now,” one senior Conservative party source told NN Journal.
Other names expected to be in the running for leader of the new unitary council are former leader of Northampton Borough Council Jonathan Nunn and former deputy leader of Northamptonshire County Council Lizzy Bowen. NN Journal had heard that the battle was between former leaders Nunn and McCord, with Bowen an outsider.
McCord’s suspension is a major upset and could see some late contenders join the leadership race.
McCord has been leader of South Northamptonshire Council, since 2015 and was elected to the Deanshanger ward last Thursday with 22 per cent of the vote. He was appointed to the leader of the West Northamptonshire shadow unitary last year by central government and has been a key player in the local government reorganisation arrangements over the past two years.
Speaking to NN Journal on the day of the local election results, MCord said he would “certainly be a candidate” for leader.
NN Journal tried to call Cllr McCord today but have not been able to speak with him. A number of other councillors have confirmed his suspension. It is not now clear whether tonight’s meeting will proceed as normal.
The North elected their leader on Monday, with Oundle ward councillor Jason Smithers becoming group leader. He will be voted in as leader at a full council meeting on May 26.
There has been ongoing wrangling between Conservatives in Northampton and those in South Northamptonshire as the various associations are forced to work together under the new unitary boundaries. When the unitary reorganisation decision was first made by the government in 2018 following the financial collapse of the council Cllr McCord was one of its strongest critics.