Council leader urged to resign following meeting with residents of Corby's Hooke Close

The meeting was held at Corby Cube this morning (Thursday, February 29)
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Residents of Corby’s Hooke Close are calling for the leader of North Northants Council to resign following a meeting held between the residents, councillors and Corby MP Tom Pursglove.

According to residents who attended this morning’s meeting held at Corby Cube, the council has admitted to a ‘catalogue of errors’ leading to the failings in the planning notification process for the controversial warehouse development in Earlstrees Road.

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Following the meeting, the residents, of which there were four there today (three from Hooke Close and one from nearby Pascal Close), released a statement in which they called for council leader Jason Smithers to resign.

Residents (pictured left) are calling for the leader of North Northamptonshire Council, Cllr Jason Smithers (pictured right) to resignResidents (pictured left) are calling for the leader of North Northamptonshire Council, Cllr Jason Smithers (pictured right) to resign
Residents (pictured left) are calling for the leader of North Northamptonshire Council, Cllr Jason Smithers (pictured right) to resign

The statement, read by Hayley, said: “The council today admitted there have been a catalogue of errors in this process. It is clear there has been a systematic failure by the council.

“We are asking for a public interest report into council failures. We are also asking for the council to do a judicial review themselves.

“We have no confidence in the council leader and are calling for his resignation.”

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Despite admitting to the errors, the council is however yet to release any solutions to the residents' concerns.

Resident Anne (Left) and Hayley (centre), and Cllr Mark Pengelly (right)Resident Anne (Left) and Hayley (centre), and Cllr Mark Pengelly (right)
Resident Anne (Left) and Hayley (centre), and Cllr Mark Pengelly (right)

They have instead asked residents to go through the complaints procedure.

In a statement released this afternoon, Cllr Jason Smithers (Cons), leader of North Northamptonshire Council, said: “We made a commitment at the first meeting with some of the residents of Hooke Close, Tom Pursglove MP and Cllr Pengelly that we would commit to an investigation and be transparent with the findings.

“This morning I followed through on that commitment and met again with some of the of the residents of Hooke Close, Tom Pursglove MP and Cllr Pengelly and would like to thank everyone for their time.

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“At the meeting we shared the results of a thorough fact-finding investigation by the Council’s internal audit team following issues surrounding an application for the former Weetabix factory site in Corby.

“We shared the areas of process that were not followed and what measures we are going to take to strengthen processes regarding future planning applications.

“We absolutely understand the frustration caused to neighbouring residents of the development site and would like to apologise for any errors.

“Residents can be assured that we are doing all we can to ensure a similar issue doesn’t happen again by improving the current planning processes.

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“We will now also look at what this audit investigation means more widely and consider the next steps and have committed to meet with the residents again in the coming weeks.”

Cllr Mark Pengelly (Lab), who has been assisting the residents of Hooke Close and attended today’s meeting, said: “While we were pleased that the council accepted there had been some major issues with the process, we were disappointed that a lot of the things we’d asked to be investigated hadn’t been done and now it’s another waiting game for the residents.”

Work began on a new 160,800 sq ft warehouse on the former Weetabix site in November after a planning application was approved by North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) in 2022.

As part of the approval process, planning officers needed to consult residents who might be affected by the plans. But instead of going to Hooke Close – which is right next to the construction site – NNC went to Hubble Road, a street near the other Corby Weetabix site.

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This error was apologised for by the leader of NNC, Cllr Jason Smithers, but in his statement he also said that the planning remained lawful because although they had consulted the wrong street, they did place a notice at the site and a press advert was published, fulfilling the statutory part of the process.

However, it then came to light that the site notice may have been put up in the wrong place, potentially meaning there could be a case to say that two out of the three criteria that had been used to determine the lawfulness of the decision and planning permission granted by the council have not been met.

Corby MP Tom Pursglove (Cons), Cllr Mark Pengelly, and residents met with the leader and chief executive of North Northamptonshire Council to discuss the situation that has arisen.

At the meeting it was said that an urgent investigation had been initiated to definitively get to the bottom of what has happened and it was agreed that they would meet again once the outcome of the investigation was known.