MP Mackintosh says ‘highly-paid’ officers failed taxpayer over Sixfields loan - though report criticised pressure put on them to complete deal

David Mackintosh MP says officers had the responsibility to make sure the loan deal to the Cobblers went through smoothly.
David Mackintosh MP says officers had the responsibility to make sure the loan deal to the Cobblers went through smoothly.

The former leader of Northampton Borough Council has again blamed the authority’s officers for the failed Sixfields loan after a damning report that said he put pressure on them to speed up the process.

Yesterday’s damning PwC report into the Northampton Town loan fiasco shed more light into the dealings at the Guildhall during 2013 and 2014.

It found that the borough council’s cabinet agreed to loan Northampton Town Football Club £10.25 million in July 2013, even though it had not produced its own business plan.

But much of the 32-page document stresses how officers were pressured to get the loan agreement in place.

The report says “numerous email correspondence” between officers referred to “time constraints and pressure from management, members of council and the involved external parties” to progress the loan “as soon as possible.”

Specifically talking about then leader David Mackintosh, the report stated: “Email correspondence between the leader and officers highlights the importance of the transaction and the desire to conclude the transaction promptly.”

It also commented that the Conservative group promised to help develop Sixfields stadium in its 2011 manifesto pledge, “despite there being limited information available at this time.”

The time pressures significantly reduced the council’s ability to challenge the professional advice it had obtained, said PwC.

But the MP for Northampton South, who made the move from the borough council into Parliament after his election in 2015, said the blame for the loan’s failings rested purely with the officers.

In a statement he said: “When I became leader of Northampton Borough Council there had been years of frustration and waiting for key projects in the town to progress and, amongst these, people told us clearly they wanted to see the sports clubs progress.

“While I was leader, highly-paid senior officers were asked to deliver these key projects for the benefit of the town, but they were also absolutely expected to deliver them properly and in accordance with the legal responsibilities they held.

“The very clear that senior officers at NBC failed to put proper measures and procedures in place when preparing and negotiating the Sixfields loan, which they were legally obliged to do.”

Mr Mackintosh has previously called for the borough’s chief executive David Kennedy to resign over his role in the process.

However the Chron was told the MP would not be available for an interview to discuss his own role in the loan in more depth yesterday.

Further questions were sent to Mr Mackintosh’s office via email, but a response has not yet been received.

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