The new leader of Northampton Borough Council is almost certain to be its current deputy Jonathan Nunn, after no other Conservative party members put their hat in the ring to take the top job.
Councillor Nunn, who served on Wootton and Hunsbury Parish Council and the county council, is the only person to challenge for the borough council leadership, vacated by Councillor Mary Markham on Monday.
The nominations for potential leaders ended this afternoon, with the deputy’s position also going uncontested.
As a result close source has confirmed Councillor Phil Larratt (Con, East Hunsbury) will take over as second in command.
Councillor Markham stood down as borough council leader following a dispute over the Barn Owl pub in Rectory Farm.
The venue had been earmarked for conversion into a Co-op store, but it was recently discovered the pub was protected by a covenant preventing its use from being changed.
While she wanted to strike a deal with he Co-op allowing them to pay £30,000 to lift the covenant - her cabinet disagreed, even though enforcing it may result in a legal bill of £200,000.
Councillor Markham said she could not stay on as leader in the knowledge protecting the covenant could cost the taxpayer in the hundreds of thousands.
Councillor Nunn said that “on balance” he disagreed with his former leader, because he felt the covenant should have been kept in place.
However, he has dismissed any suggestion there was a concerted bid to oust Councillor Markham.
He claims to have made pleas to Councillor Markham to stay as leader as late as Sunday night.
“People were happy that Mary was there,” he said.
“There was no one that didn’t want her to stay in the job.
“I’ve never known anyone so strongly committed to her principles. Her standing down is a real example of that.”
Councillor Nunn is expected to be formally unveiled as the only candidate on Friday and then formally appointed as the new leader at the next full council meeting.
Councillor Suresh Patel (Con, Old Duston) said he is the right person for the job.
“He is experienced, he knows his politics and he knows the council’s business.
“I am confident he will do a great job.”
Labour group leader, Councillor Danielle Stone said: “We wish Jonathan the best of luck in the job. Being Leader of the council is a privilege but also a huge challenge.
“As an opposition we will continue to work with the administration when we believe they are doing the right thing for the town but oppose them when we disagree. Phil Larratt is a former Leader and long serving councillor so hopefully he can bring some advice and expertise.”