Aufona: Fairground attractions for Bran (if not public)

BRAN Eldred’s a fair-minded chap and he’s doing a splendid job ensuring Northampton has lots of fun this summer. Isn’t he just?

Only last week we revealed how The Mack’s lieutenant had quietly signed off a fair being held this week in Eastfield Park, a marvellous initiative that was tempered only by the fact nobody in the area, including his fellow Tory ward councillors, knew it was happening.

Now, lo and behold, another funfair will be landing in July on Far Cotton Rec, the first in at least three decades by all accounts and one that, yet again, not a lot of people know about.

Bran, the cabinet mouthpiece for community services at the Guildhall, seems to have forged a really, really excellent working relationship with funfair operator Albert J Evans. The aformentioned Mr Evans won the contract for Walk in the Park at Wootton (where Bran is a parish councillor) in addition to which he was selected by Bran to run the St Crispin Street Fair when it revived last year. He’s got the gig too for Eastfield Park and now, it emerges, he has also nipped in to host Far Cotton Rec: The Funfair Debut.

Aufona was slightly surprised – to say the least – that neither Eastfield nor Far Cotton - required ANY public consultation to go ahead. Perhaps a mailshot to residents or an informal meeting with the residents’ association not to mention all the other hoops (meeting the Rec Centre management, consulting with Northamptonshire FA, risk assessments and so on. Better still, we understand the borough’s events team manager, former DJ Liz-Carroll-Wheat, didn’t have a clue about it until very late in the day. And without dropping it in the mix here, it’s unlikely anyone in Far Cotton or the rest of town would know about it until the occasional sign went up and the odd dodgem ride appeared a couple of days beforehand. It’s almost as if they didn’t want anyone to know Albert J Evans is holding all these funfairs. Where next for Albert? Victoria Park, Kingsthorpe Rec. Bradlaugh Fields? Do tell us Bran...

WHILE introducing you all to the Sekhemka statue fall-out between The Mack and the Friends of Northampton Museums last week, we were unaware the £3.675m (match-funded) bid had actually been quietly submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for Delapre Abbey. Expect radio silence from the HLF until the end of September when all will be revealed. Aufona is concerned the project is, however, no further forward than five years ago. The borough’s capital contribution is reportedly now just £50,000 while the Section 106 “agreement” on Ransome Road is looking distinctly shaky. Not unlike the Guildhall leadership’s relationship with the museum supporters.

Editor’s note: Last week reference was made to Paul Varnsverry’s dog. We have been informed the family dogs died two years ago. We would like to apologise for this mistake and for any upset caused to the family as a result of the reference made in the column.

Swings’n roundabouts for top social workers

The Chancellor may be slashing what’s left of local government, but at least County Hall has some job vacancies in the shape of “Social Worker Senior Practioners” (SWSPs). The blurb tells us “in response to recent inspection findings” - ah, yes, those OFSTED findings - “Northamptonshire is on a fast-paced journey to significantly improve children’s safeguarding”...

Look below the surface, however, and you’ll quickly realise these £35K-a-year jobs were the same ones - the job description and pay grade is identical - as the principal social workers Norman Hacker’s admininistration axed in 2010 in favour of creating more team managers. Three years on and we’re back where we started: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

OVERHEARD: NICE moment for Northampton when the Errol Flynn Filmhouse opened last Thursday to a showing of Behind the Candelabra. On the ball Mikey Ellis was one of the great and the good attending, but let himself down a bit when it came to the dainty brace of cupcakes left out for each guest, emblazoned with the letters EF in pinky red icing. If you haven’t guessed by now, yes, the member for Northampton North did ask what EF stood for.

PS: TO the architecture “experts” queueing up to criticise Project Angel, it never was going to be London’s City Hall or the Guggenheim in Bilbao. But stick a Pret downstairs and we’ll all be happy...