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Northampton Chronicle & Echo | Posted 22nd February 2020

Fury over Kingsthorpe parish proposals being ‘railroaded’ onto residents

Opposition councillors are ‘beyond angry’ at plans to ‘railroad’ two wards into a new community council for Kingsthorpe.

The new Kingsthorpe Community Council is set to encompass the five wards of Sunnyside, Spring Park, Obelisk, Kingsthorpe ward and St David’s.

But the last full council meeting on January 20 saw members of the public from Kingsthorpe and St David’s say they had not been included in the consultation.

And councillors from Labour and the Liberal Democrats have joined forces to condemn plans to include the two wards in the new community council, and labelled the consultation process a ‘shambles’.

Labour leader Councillor Danielle Stone said: “I very rarely lose my temper but I’m beyond angry at what is going on. The Conservatives are contemptuous of residents and contemptuous of opposition councillors. We want this community council to be successful, but it’s too big and it’s going to fail.”

Councillor Jane Birch, who is both a borough and county councillor for the area, added: “Kingsthorpe village doesn’t want to be involved, and St David’s has huge challenges and I think it’s going to get overlooked and I’m desperately worried it won’t have a voice.

“A lot of people didn’t get the consultation and for those who did they’re not going to take notice of a seven page document with fuzzy maps.”

And Liberal Democrat councillor Sally Beardsworth said the proposals would be ‘awful’ for the people she represented, adding: “We are being railroaded into something that they never wanted and have not been consulted on. People who turned up to full council last time around are angry that they are not being listened to.

“It’s really wrong of the Tory administration to do things to people rather than work with those people. Half of them didn’t get the consultation letters so they couldn’t participate.”

As things currently stand the new Kingsthorpe Community Council would include the five wards and have 15 councillors for the 17,000 population. The new Northampton Town Council would have 21 wards and 25 councillors.

The trio have no objections to Sunnyside, Obelisk and Spring Park being included in the community council, but believe that Kingsthorpe ward and St David’s should form part of the new Town Council in the first instance before being given the chance to join the Kingsthorpe council at a later date if it wants. They say that proposal was rejected during a meeting with Conservative councillors.

A vote at Monday’s full borough council meeting is set to approve the new Northampton Town Council and the new councils in Kingsthorpe and Delapre & Far Cotton.

But Labour has tabled an amendment calling for separate votes on each of the three new councils rather than in one block, and for Kingsthorpe ward and St David’s to be moved into Northampton Town Council.

But speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Conservative deputy leader Phil Larratt – who has been leading the programme on the new local councils – said if the borough was to consult on the issue again then the delivery of the Town Council would also be delayed.

He said he would discuss the amendment with his group, but said: “We are representing their views because they were included in the consultation and the consultation was quite clear that there was support for a parish.

“We can’t understand why they would think that a parish council of 17,000 is too big but a town council of 99,000 isn’t.

“We got to where we are with cross party agreement and have spent a lot of money on this process. If we change this we would have to go out and re-consult not only on Kingsthorpe but also for the town council as it didn’t include those wards. We don’t have the money to go out and re-consult, and it would put the whole thing on the backburner until at least the unitary had started.”

The original five ward Kingsthorpe Community Council had been proposed by the Whitehills & Spring Park Residents’ Association, but speaking at the last full council meeting representatives of WASPRA appeared to acknowledge that the three-ward proposal was better.

And Councillor Birch said to vote the councils through without ‘proper consultation’ was ‘wrong’. She added: “This is just something the Conservatives have cooked up between themselves, there’s no democracy, no logic and they are ignoring evidence.”