Lib Dem leader ousted from Northampton social housing board after council vote

Councillor Sally Beardsworth
Councillor Sally Beardsworth

Northampton Borough Council’s Liberal Democrats leader has denied that she tried to “bring politics” into the council’s newly formed social housing management organisation - after she was kicked off its board last night.

Conservative councillors last night voted in favour of removing Councillor Sally Beardsworth from her role as part of Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH), the new organisation in charge of the council’s 12,000 strong social housing stock.

Leader of the authority, Councillor David Mackintosh, said the Lib Dem leader had failed to declare personal interests in taking the role - namely that he said she had family members within the organisation.

Cabinet member for housing on the council, Mary Markham (Con, Obelisk)added: “It is sad to say that the only person I have ever had to speak to or pull into line for trying to bring a political situation into the room is Councillor Beardsworth.

“A lot of people put a lot of effort into the formation of Northampton Parnership Homes - but it is an organisation for the tenants, not a platform for the dramatics of people in this chamber.”

Councillor Beardsworth will be replaced by Conservative councillor Jamie Lane as a council nominated director of Northampton Partnership Homes.

The board of the organisation, which officially took over the management of social housing in the borough just over a fortnight ago, is made up of a mix of tenants, employees of the council and ‘independent directors’.

The board is meant to have no political allegiances, though it did contain a cross section of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat representatives until Councillor Beardsworth was removed.

But Councillor Beardsworth said she had not tried to bring political differences into NPH board meetings.

She said: I’ve always put the tenants first and foremost - I’ve been spokesperson on housing for the liberals since 1993.

Yes I do ask challenging questions.

“Yes I do put my points of view across, but that’s not the same as making it political.

Councillor Beardsworth added that she would join Gunilla Loe, a former member of the Friends of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery who opposed the sale of the Sekhemka statue, for being removed from a board after disagreeing with the council leader.