'It is tremendously exciting..but it feels scary too': New leader elect of West Northamptonshire Council speaks about role

Councillor Jonathan Nunn was chosen by his party to lead the new unitary authority

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 12:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 12:57 pm

The new leader of West Northamptonshire Council has spoken of his excitement and trepidation ahead of starting his role.

Councillor Jonathan Nunn the former leader of Northampton Borough Council, was voted as party leader last night, winning the vote ahead of two other candidates - Councillor Ian McCord and Councillor Lizzy Bowen.

The vote was shrouded in controversy with Councillor McCord being suspended by the party just 24 hours before the decision was due to be taken after allegations were made against him, all of which he strenuously denies.

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Councillor Jonathan Nunn

In an interview with the Chronicle & Echo, Councillor Nunn addressed Councillor McCord's suspension but was keen to focus first on the challenges that lie ahead.

When asked how he was feeling about his new, expanded role, Councillor Nunn said: "It is tremendously exciting but from a personal perspective, it feels scary too."

West Northamptonshire Council covers a wider area geographically than the borough, but also a wider remit and has responsibility for a wide range of services.

"It is daunting," Councillor Nunn said. "The scale of the council, the full range of services and the number of people it serves - this is so much bigger than the borough."

Councillor Nunn feels it is a positive that he is approaching the role with some trepidation and says it would be arrogant to believe you could just step straight into the role without any concerns.

"With the new unitary authority, it has come with the promise that things will be better - we have promised a better world and we now have to hold the council to that," he said.

The impact of Covid-19 has clearly been the focus of all local authorities for more than a year but now the focus is shifting more to the delivery of council services.

"Our services have been continuing throughout the pandemic and that is a credit to all those involved at all of the councils," he added.

The leadership of the new council was decided at meeting on Wednesday night and the decision is due to be ratified at a council meeting on May 20. It was not without its drama. News that Councillor McCord was suspended from the party after a complaint was made against emerged on Wednesday. Councillor McCord has strenuously denied the allegations made against him.

Councillor Nunn told the Chronicle & Echo he had no knowledge of the allegations and was not aware of any of the background to the complaint being made. His biggest concern was that it would put doubt into the public's mind about how the process had been run.

On Councillor McCord, he said: "I see a vital role for my colleague, Ian McCord, in our senior team and I look forward to welcoming him back around the table as soon as he is able."

Despite the trepidation, Councillor Nunn said he was honoured to have been chosen.

"It is a privilege and pleasure to have been chosen. I was quite touched by the number of people who came forward and suggested I do it.

"We did some good things at the borough and people have become more engaged in the work that the do at the council. Culture will be a big part of the future - people are coming together as a unitary and they are passionate about their patch. We have to widen their thinking to the whole of West Northamptonshire," he said.

Councillor Nunn also hoped to work closely with opposition members in the new council.

"I am proud of how we have worked with the opposition at the borough council - they hold us to account but we have worked together on a number of things. There is always a bit of Punch and Judy at meetings though!"

Looking to the future, Councillor Nunn said he was now getting to grips with the reality that he would be leading the new authority into the future.

"We need to make sure that the fundamental services we deliver that people are entitled to are available to everybody, no matter where they live in the authority area. It has to be strong everywhere and that has to be one of our values.

"We have to be active on the things that make people's lives better," he said.