New Northamptonshire councillor appointed to replace sacked pensions chairman

A new councillor has taken over the county council’s pensions committee after the previous chairman was sacked by the leader.

By James Averill
Thursday, 30th May 2019, 8:53 am
The county council pensions committee meets at One Angel Square
The county council pensions committee meets at One Angel Square

Councillor Jonathan Ekins has been appointed to the position after the removal of long-standing chairman Councillor Graham Lawman.

The axe was wielded by council leader Matt Golby in April after members of the pensions committee voted against proposals to hold back £2million of the £6.73million employer pension contribution as a one-off reduction and instead give it in the next financial year.

At the time, Councillor Lawman told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he was ‘extremely disappointed’, as he felt he had done an ‘excellent’ job.

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Councillor Ekins (left) replaces Councillor Lawman as chairman of the pensions committee

He said: “The pension fund is performing extremely well. The actuary did not advise to hold back the £2million, instead he said it was ‘acceptable’. Because it didn’t go that way the leader decided to stand me down.”

The decision to remove Councillor Lawman was met with criticism from opposition councillors. Speaking at the annual county council meeting last Thursday (May 23), Independent councillor Jim Hakewill said: “I’m really disappointed that Cllr Lawman was removed because he was completely apolitical. I hope that the new committee leaves politics at the door.”

Councillor Ekins, who is the ward member for Brickhill and Queensway in Wellingborough, admitted that Councillor Lawman was very qualified for the role he was replacing him in, but added: “I have an interest in finance and I follow investments. It’s now my job after being elected to provide some robust scrutiny.”

And responding to the comments from Councillor Hakewill, he responded that politics was ‘always left at the door with me’. He added: “Yes I’m a Conservative, but I represent all residents and the pension fund payers.”

It is unknown whether the proposals over which Councillor Lawman was removed will come back to the pensions committee at a later date.