Borough chief Kennedy won't be standing down even after 'unreserved apology' for failed Sixfields loan

The chief of executive of Northampton Borough Council has also "apologised unreservedly" for his role in loaning the Cobblers £10.25 million - but made no mention of standing down from the £140,000 a year post.

Monday, 5th December 2016, 9:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:53 pm
Chief executive David Kennedy has issued an unreserved apology for his role in the Sixfields affair.

Mr Kennedy, flanked by the other two most senior officers at the council at the time of the 2013 deal, appeared at a specially convened audit committee hearing at the Guildhall tonight to break his silence on the matter.

Under-fire MP for Northampton South, David Mackintosh had previously called for the chief to resign for his mishandling of the loan.

But Mr Kennedy told the committee this would not be the case, even though he admitted the fact officers faced pressure to get the deal done by Mr Mackintosh at the time was not an acceptable excuse.

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Mr Kennedy, middle, flanked by chief finance officer Glenn Hammons, left, and borough secretary Frances Fernandes, right, at the Guildhall tonight.

Addressing the committee he said: "I would like to apologise unreservedly on behalf of myself and all the officers involved.

"We seek to set high standards for ourselves and other offices.

"It is with deep regret I see the extent to which we didn't meet those standards.

"I accept my part in that."

Mr Kennedy, middle, flanked by chief finance officer Glenn Hammons, left, and borough secretary Frances Fernandes, right, at the Guildhall tonight.

Mr Kennedy went on to say that PwC's damning report, "makes very difficult reading for all of us".

But he said since then officers have been working on a governance plan to ensure mistakes like Sixfields never occur again.

Though he had been criticised for overseeing a further loan to Northamptonshire County Cricket Club for £250,000 last year, made with extremely similar terms to the failed Cobblers loan, tonight he revealed that deal was now off.

The club, which has changed from a membership ownership to a shareholder structure, will have to come back with an alternative business case he said.

As part of a new measure introduced at the council, he will in fact report to every audit committee meeting, to update them on how the governance improvements are progressing.

He even said: "You are going to see a lot of me over the next year or two."

At several times during tonight's meeting, both the auditors PwC and Mr Kennedy was asked to what extent pressure from outside factors hindered the making of the loan.

At one point one of the authors Jodie Stead, said officers received "numerous emails from people at the football club" as well as Mr Mackintosh during 2013, attempting to speed the deal along.

Describing the nature of those emails, she said: "It is mainly haste they refer to; emails needing quick response times, things needing to be concluded quickly.

"There was a significant time pressure in concluding the arrangements."

But Mr Kenendy said this was not an excuse for the failure.

He said: "In the middle of 2013 we were dealing with a lot of issues at the time. Sixfields was a major issue among a number of major issues.

"There was in managing that pressured environment, a need for everyone to do things in a structured way. It's no justification to say the organisation was pressured at the time.

"Officers, in trying to do jobs, ended up doing them below the standards anyone would have wanted."