Councillor blasts 'skulduggery, behind the scenes deals, pacts, long knives and broken promises' in Northamptonshire politics

Former borough leader's fury after being ousted as new council's deputy following re-run zoom meeting

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 11:57 am
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 11:58 am
Former county councillor Martin Griffiths

A former county councillor has lasted "skulduggery and intrigue, behind the scenes deals, pacts, long knives and broken promises" in Northamptonshire politics.

Councillor Martin Griffiths was this week unceremoniously ditched as deputy leader of the North Northants Conservative group following a re-run zoom ballot.

He had served five years as Borough Council of Wellingborough leader and was deputy leader of the shadow unitary authority in the run-up to elections earlier this month.

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Helen Howell was elected deputy leader of the North Northants Conservative group after beating Cllr Griffiths in a re-run vote

Now, Councillor Griffiths, talking exclusively to the Chronicle & Echo's sister paper, the Northants Telegraph, has spoken out about his experience of underhand tactics.

He said: "Politics, especially in this neck of the woods, is full of all sorts of skulduggery and intrigue, with behind the scenes deals, pacts, long knives and broken promises, sadly part of the political landscape.

"That apart, I will continue to serve and represent the villages in this beautiful part of the county, helping the single mum threatened with homelessness, or the local business to get a grant to stay open, or the elderly lady with dementia find the grave of her long lost son.

"Fourteen years as a public servant and five years as a council leader leaves me well placed to support, where I can, to make sure that the officer team that I helped to recruit, remains motivated, and that the vision for our new council that I helped to create, is fulfilled.

"Only a well-run council with a close, strong and professional officer / member relationship will enable this area to bounce back and prosper as we come through this dreadful pandemic and to never ever repeat the well-remembered mistakes of the past.

"I hope and pray that those elevated to higher office never forget why we are where we are,and that they are here to serve the best interests of ALL 348,000 residents of North Northamptonshire, in a cross party and inclusive way, to create an exemplary council that we can be truly proud of.

"I wish them well!"

Cllr Griffiths, who represents Irchester, won an internal Tory contest to be the deputy leader of the new council's ruling Conservative group after helping land a 42-seat majority with 53 percent of the vote.

But the day after the initial zoom vote, leading Tories claimed technical glitches meant it must be held again.

Cllr Helen Howell won the re-run causing fury among Cllr Griffiths's camp and prompting an appeal against the decision.

Conservative Campaign Headquarters joined another local Tory zoom conflab earlier this week to ratify the vote that went against Cllr Griffiths.

Cllr Griffiths sent his apologies to Thursday night's first meeting of the new council at which another former county councillor, Jason Smithers, was elected leader with Cllr Howell as his deputy.

Another former county councillor Ian McCord was suspended by his local party earlier this month on the eve of a West Northants council leadership vote won by ex-Northampton Borough Council leader Jonathan Nunn.

Conservatives said an independent investigation was under way following complaints raised about the former shadow authority leader.

Councillor McCord said at the time: “I do not know what the allegations are.

“I do not believe I have done anything, or I cannot think of one single thing that I have said or not said, that would constitute this level of reaction."

Speaking at the time, Councillor Nunn said he was not aware of the allegations against his colleague and hoped to welcome back to the senior leadership team as soon as he was able to.