"Goodbye my friend": emotional scenes as Kettering Council meets for the final time

It will cease to exist at the end of the month

Friday, 26th March 2021, 12:18 pm
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 12:22 pm
The meeting was held online.

Councillors struggled to hold back the tears when Kettering Council met for the final time on Wednesday night (March 24).

The council, which was established in 1974 when district councils merged in local Government reforms, will cease to exist at the end of the month when the new North Northamptonshire unitary authority is formed, merging the councils of Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and East Northants.

And, having not been able to hold meetings in person because of the Covid-19 pandemic, councillors met on Zoom one last time at the final full council meeting this week.

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After a reading from Rev David Walsh, singer Vicki Becks performed 'Goodbye my friend'.

Councillors shared stories from their time serving constituents, before they were sang out by another local singer, Joshua Daniel, and mayor Cllr James Burton emotionally brought the meeting to a close.

Earlier that evening he said: "Little did I know on becoming a councillor back in 2015 that I would have the undesirable task of bringing Kettering Council to its conclusion as its last borough mayor.

"I have had a number of sleepless nights on considering how to give this momentous occasion its justification and celebrate all this council has achieved over the last 47 years."

Leader of the council, Cllr Russell Roberts, said: "Whilst this is the end of an era we must look forward with confidence."

Cllr Ruth Groome said she felt like the council's granny, having been on it since 1995.

And Cllr Jim Hakewill said that would make him the grandpa, having joined in 1987 there was no A14, no RCI building and Tesco was a Harriers running track.

His father was on the council in 1973 and he felt proud to follow in his footsteps.

Cllr Philip Hollobone, who is also Kettering's MP, said the council had a number of reasons to be proud of its achievements

He said: "I know first-hand how well-regarded Kettering Council is by the Government, by ministers and civil servants, and it's certainly true that for a relatively small council we have always punched well above our weight."

And he took one final pop at Northamptonshire County Council, whose financial crisis led to the local Government shake-up.

He said: "Really we have all been left down by the county council and it's very sad that in the establishment of the new unitary council, whilst a bad council is disappearing, a very good council in Kettering Council is disappearing at the same time."

Cllr Maggie Don took the opportunity to praise Labour group leader Cllr Mick Scrimshaw, who is ill and won't be standing for election in May.

Cllr Scrimshaw said he had thoroughly enjoyed helping residents over the years.

Other councillors heaped praise on the council's staff and officers for their work "behind the scenes".

Cllr Mark Dearing said being on the council "had its highs, its lows and its frustrations" but that he was proud to have served.

Cllr Ash Davies said he would always be grateful to having been able to serve his home town.

And Cllr Clark Mitchell said being elected was the proudest moment of his life.