An urgent meeting of the borough council has been called for by Northampton’s Labour group today. . .if the Cobblers do not pay back the £10.25 million loan.
Northampton Town Football Club has only six days left to pay back the money it borrowed to develop Sixfields stadium in full after it emerged the club had missed the last two £1.5 million repayments.
The opposition Labour group on the authority has, this afternoon, officially asked town mayor Councillor Penny Favell (Con, Rushmills) to call in all the members on the authority for an urgent meeting, providing there has been no payment of the loan, by Monday, October 19.
Councillor Danielle Stone, leader of Northampton Labour Group, said she has made the urgent request to give the Conservative administration “the opportunity to explain in full” how they are going to proceed with recovering the money.
She said: “We are waiting to see if this loan is going to be repaid before the deadline expires in about a week’s time.
“If it is not then the Labour Group will call a special meeting of the full council to discuss this matter. Like I have said recently it is now a waiting game.”
She went on to say: “We believe losing £10.25 million for a lower tier local authority, like Northampton Borough Council, is a serious matter.
“So we must give the administration at the Guildhall the opportunity to explain in full what they are doing about the situation and how they are going to proceed.”
Councillor Stone said the council needed to discuss ways of avoiding a similar situation again in the future.
“Clearly something went wrong prior to the decision to give the loan in July 2013 and then between this date and May 2015,” she said.
“Maybe in future loans of this nature should be given in stages after each phase of work has been completed? There has been little transparency and the fans want to understand what has happened.”
Councillor Stone added that she felt leader of the borough council, Councillor Mary Markham (Con, Park) had “inherited” the situation from her predecessor, now Northampton South MP David Mackintosh, and congratulated her for working with the Northampton Town Football Club Supporters’ Trust.
She concluded: “There is now a political consensus in the need to get the taxpayers money back but also do what we can to ensure the survival and long-term success of the Football Club. It is not going to be easy but there is a political determination to find a way forward.
“The issue of developing Sixfields and getting a bigger improved stadium has been going on for a decade and now regrettably it looks like it is going to drag on for a lot longer.”
David Mackintosh has previously said he would be willing to mediate between the borough council and the football club to ensure the £10.25 million is paid back.
On BBC Radio Northampton today he told lunchtime host Helen Blaby in regards to the loan made to Northampton Town: “I have nothing to hide so there is nor reason not to have one. The borough council has acted completely properly.
“I am quite angry about the situation. I allowed the Cobblers to have the money to start building the stadium and the problem is that it has ground to a halt.
“I am now in a different role now so I don’t know the ins and outs of the situation other than it is frustrating.”