Wellingborough council leader hits back at Corby leader's 'dead money' chamber claim

The public disagreement between the Labour and Conservative leaders is the first as the rundown to the May unitary elections begins.

By Sarah Ward
Friday, 21st February 2020, 11:16 am
Updated Friday, 21st February 2020, 11:17 am
Cllr Griffiths said many considerations were taken into account before the leaders group recommended hiring Kettering Conference Venue as the temporary unitary chamber from May.
Cllr Griffiths said many considerations were taken into account before the leaders group recommended hiring Kettering Conference Venue as the temporary unitary chamber from May.

Wellingborough Council’s leader has hit back after a neighbouring leader said the hiring of a commercial venue in Kettering for the new unitary is ‘dead money’.

Yesterday (February 21) an email by Corby Council’s leader Tom Beattie to all Corby councillors was made public in which he voiced his annoyance that, rather than paying for adaptations to the Corby Cube, the county’s current eight council leaders opted to spend £13,000 hiring the Kettering Conference Centre as the new full council meeting place for the shadow authority.

Cllr Beattie said any investment in Corby Cube was an investment whereas hiring a commercial venture was ‘dead money’.Now the leader of Wellingborough Council has made the considerations of the leaders’ group known.

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Cllr Beattie thinks the problem that the Cube is in Corby could be the issue.

Cllr Griffith, who is chair of the North Northants Joint Committee, said: “There were many considerations taken into account when looking at a suitable venue for the first meeting of the North Northants shadow council, including somewhere that is ready to be used in May directly after the elections as well as the central location in North Northants.

“The conference centre is recommended as it’s a suitable size and already well-equipped for the purpose. The recommendation to use this venue will go to the North Northants Joint Committee in March for consideration. Once the shadow council is formed, they will ultimately determine the location for future council meetings.”

The dispute – the first of its kind in public in the twelve-plus months the county’s eight leaders have been planning the unitary reorganisation – had been predicted.

Corby is the only Labour-run council in the county and also the only one of the authorities who voted against scrapping its council.

The Cube is the most modern of the four other council chambers in North Northants.

At a number of meetings Corby councillors have expressed their concerns at joining forces with the neighbouring councils of Kettering, East Northants and Wellingborough and have been unhappy that the mismanagement of the Conservative-run Northamptonshire County Council led the Government to order a unitary reorganisation.

In his email to councillors Cllr Beattie said: “I also believe that there will be a very negative public reaction to spending money on a private venue when, with a modest investment, there is a perfectly functional and modern public building in Corby. Maybe the fact that it is in Corby is the problem.

“I don’t think this decision augurs well for Corby going forward to the new authority.”

Recently Cllr Beattie announced his intention not to stand for unitary election. He has been leader of Corby Council since 2011.

Elections take place on Thursday, May 7, to the new shadow authority, which will run for a year before the unitary proper is invested in April 2021.

The 78 councillors elected in May will automatically become the new unitary councillors.