Fury among North Northants Tories as deputy leader ousted before first meeting of new council

It’s been described by one local member as ‘World War Three’

Monday, 24th May 2021, 4:27 pm
Cllr Martin Griffiths

Deputy leader of the new North Northamptonshire Conservative group Martin Griffiths has been ditched after a second ballot was held among members.

Cllr Griffiths had been elected to serve as deputy leader of the Conservative group during a zoom ballot following the Conservatives' win at the local elections earlier this month. He was due to be ratified as deputy leader of the council at this Wednesday’s inaugural council meeting.

But the Northants Telegraph understands that although all the four deputy leadership candidates agreed on the outcome, that zoom ballot had been hit by technical issues and so was re-run, with a new winner, Raunds Councillor Helen Howell.

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Cllr Helen Howell

Some members objected to this new vote so a third zoom meeting was held yesterday (Sunday) to ratify the decision.

One member who did not wish to be named said: “The second vote was not constitutional. It was railroaded through and then the meeting was shut down so we couldn’t object.”

Another, who spoke to the Northants Telegraph on condition of anonymity, said: “It’s World War Three. Lots of senior members of the party are incandescent. This is not the start that we wanted or expected.

”So much for a fresh start.”

The decision means that both the leader and the deputy leader of the council will be from East Northamptonshire.

Former Wellingborough Council leader Cllr Martin Griffiths said he did not want to comment when contacted by this newspaper.

Cllr Jason Smithers could not be reached.

The first meeting of the new council is due to take place on Wednesday. The council was one of two formed in Northamptonshire after the failure of Northamptonshire County Council.

Some Conservative members are also said to be angered by councillors Smithers’ refusal to appoint a member of the opposition as scrutiny chair.