Suggestion to swap Northampton mayor's Jaguar for electric car as town council declares climate emergency

Goal set to be carbon neutral by 2030, councillor allowances agreed and update on Guildhall controversy

Monday, 8th March 2021, 4:48 pm
Updated Monday, 8th March 2021, 4:50 pm

Northampton Town Council has declared a climate emergency and set the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030, in line with other local authorities.

One councillor suggested swapping the mayor's prestigious car for something more environmentally friendly to help bring down the council's carbon footprint.

During the meeting on Monday (March 1), Brian Markham said changing the Jaguar XJ for an electric motor could give publicity to the town and climate change emergency.

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But no suggestion was made to sell the famous NH1 number plate, which is thought to be worth around £400,000.

Mike Hallam, who proposed the climate emergency motion, which was unanimously passed, said people and businesses in Northampton are keen to support the environment.

"So often in business or some years ago in the council, the environment was something that was considered but might be right at the back of the report or at the back of a business presentation," he said.

"Well that's not something people are willing to accept anymore and needs to be front and centre of everything that we do."

Northampton's mayor gets to drive around in a Jaguar XJ with the number plate NH1
Northampton's mayor gets to drive around in a Jaguar XJ with the number plate NH1

Seconder James Hill added: "This is going to be a really important issue going forward, we all know that, it's not an issue that's going away.

"We need to make sure it's being tackled and addressed at every level of government and obviously the town council will become a part of that.

"We need to be close to our residents and I'll be keen to work with residential groups as well."

The town council - the largest in the country - was meeting for just the third time after being formed in December to represent Northampton with the borough council being abolished.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Westone, Brian Markham

Councillors agreed to give themselves a yearly allowance of £1,200 plus travel and subsidence allowances.

Members will also be able to let any unspent allowance to go to their individual community funds after an amendment from Gareth Eales.

Janice Duffy said this could increase inequality with councillors in more affluent areas having more money to spend and suggested unused funds should go back to the council to spend.

The council was also given an update on the discussions over who will own the Guildhall when the borough council is abolished on March 31.

In November, the borough council agreed in principle to transfer ownership of the civic building to the town council rather than West Northamptonshire Council.

The new unitary authority will take over council services for Northamptonshire County Council, Northampton borough and South Northamptonshire and Daventry districts from April 1.

Concerns have been raised about the new town council taking on too much of a financial burden and only keeping the historic parts of the Guildhall, with the new unitary keeping the modern parts.

But town councillors have described the plans as 'a real slap in the face' for residents as the civic building should stay with them.

Councillor Markham said: "I'm not sure the West Northants unitary really has our interests at heart at all."

Officer Laurie Gould reported that a new working group involving more councillors is being set up to discuss the transfer of assets, including the Guildhall.

He insisted their needs and views will be heard and that West Northamptonshire Council 'has a degree of sympathy for the views of the town council and is anxious to arrive at a solution which is in the interests of all those who care about the town council and its future'.

A further update is expected at the next town council meeting on March 29, according to borough council chief executive George Candler.