Watch as council leader and councillor disagree over Northampton issues including student flats, brothels, illegal HiMOs and fly-tipping

"I'm going on a walkabout with Councillor Bowen and I'm going to show her where the brothels are, where the drug dealing happens, where the suspected illegal HiMOs are."

By Logan MacLeod
Friday, 10th December 2021, 8:48 am
Danielle Stone (left) and Jonathan Nunn (right).
Danielle Stone (left) and Jonathan Nunn (right).

"Our town centre is full of charity shops, casinos, betting shops, and pawn broker shops. Is that really the vision we have got for the town centre?," says councillor.

This is some of what councillor Danielle Stone said while addressing West Northamptonshire Council's cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday (December 7), which led to leader Jonathan Nunn telling her to stop 'running the town down'.

Councilor Stone, of the Castle ward, raised multiple issues during a discussion on whether the council should apply for a £500,000 grant from the government to regenerate Northampton town - which was later given the go-ahead and will see a new social enterprise hub built and opened in early 2022.

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The half-a-million-pounds will come from the government's Towns Fund, which aims to 'level up' local economies across the UK. "And as we know, Northampton town is in desperate need of that," said cabinet member Lizzy Bowen.

The money will be given to social enterprises in the town, which, according to Councillor Bowen, will encourage them to take up vacant units in the centre. "And as we know, there are quite a few of those," she added.

However, Councillor Stone shone a light on what she sees going on in the town centre and said other issues - including the planning process, cleanliness and crime - need to be dealt with as well as introducing new developments.

Councillor Stone said: "I cannot tell you how delighted I am we're getting substantial money and investment.

"This isn't going to work if we don't pay attention to what is going on in the town centre and in the surrounding area.

"In the town centre we have got permitted development of thousands of student flats.

"Now I know we want to see residences, but do we really want to turn it into a student village, really? Is that part of the plan? I don't think it is.

"There has been approval given for two new casinos in the town centre in the last 18 months. Is that really how we see this plan fitting in? Do you think that's going to attract people into our town centre? It isn't. It's a huge disincentive to people coming in.

"Our town centre is full of charity shops, casinos, betting shops, and pawn broker shops. Is that really the vision we have got for the town centre?

"If you go out, radiating out of the town centre, you come across streets that are absolutely piled high with fly-tipping, illegal parking.

"I'm going on a walkabout with councillor Bowen and I'm going to show her where the brothels are, where the drug dealing happens, where the suspected illegal HiMOs are.

"All of these things need to be tackled as well as this development, because otherwise it is not going to work.

"If people come into the town centre from the Kettering Road they will turn around and go back out again. If they come down the Wellingborough Road they'll turn around and go back out again, and so on.

"We have got to contextualize this by having clean streets that are clear of criminal activity."

Council leader Jonathan Nunn stopped councillor Stone's tirade promptly.

The leader said: "You know as well as I do the things we can do; and I don't like to see bookmakers and many of the types of things you mention there as well.

"Our hands are tied. We cannot choose the people we like and the people we don't like.

"What we can do is create such demand in the town that the people we would see as being more attractive - the boutiques or the retailers. And we have probably got a fairly common view of that."

Councillor Stone then interjected causing leader Nunn to raise his voice and rebuff her efforts to 'run the town down'.

The leader said: "What we can't do is just sit here in a public meeting and continue to run the town down using phrases which completely fly in the face of what we do have at our disposal."

Councillor Bowen understood Councillor Stone's concerns and told her she 'probably knows more brothels' in the town.

She said: "I know where you are coming from. The permitted development of thousands of student flats concerns a lot of people.

"The team are all very aware we do not want to be overrun with student accommodation in the town centre.

"In terms of brothels and drug dealing, I'm afraid I do know all about it - I probably know more brothels than you do, actually.

"The regeneration doesn't happen overnight, it will take a number of years to get to where we need to be."

The cabinet meeting was streamed live on YouTube and the full meeting can be viewed here.