Suspected delay to deal between council and Northampton Town for East Stand completion and land sale
According to the leader of the Labour Group on West Northamptonshire Council, a meeting was due to take place next week but has now been cancelled
A bump in the road has already been hit with the deal between West Northamptonshire Council and Northampton Town Football Club for the sale of land next to the football stadium, according to the leader of the Labour group.
Earlier this month, it was announced that a deal ‘in principle’ had been reached between the two organisations whereby the council will sell the land next to the Sixfields stadium once work on the unfinished East Stand is completed.
When the announcement was initially made, the council said the matter would be discussed at a full council meeting on December 2 and then at the cabinet meeting on December 7.
However, following the announcement the leaders of the Labour Group and Liberal Democrats asked the council to host a separate meeting for the matter as they felt it was big enough to warrant its own, especially as the full council meeting agenda already has large issues to debate, such as the city status bid.
According to Gareth Eales, leader of the Labour Group, the council agreed to the separate meeting and set a date of December 1.
That meeting has now been cancelled, he says, and the matter is not listed on the agenda for the full council meeting.
The cancellation is suspected to be in relation to an independent land valuation, which is yet to be completed, he said.
Councillor Eales said: “The reason [for the cancellation] as best as we can understand is there are some concerns that a sufficient independent land valuation had not yet been undertaken.
“Given the 'in principle' agreement apparently reached with the football club including a purchase price, that worries us.
“I feel sorry for the club and its supporters because of how long this has dragged on.
“All councillors absolutely need and want the football club to be able to move forward and for the East Stand to be completed, but given the history we also need to ensure all due diligence is undertaken, a dedicated transparent decision making process allowing public participation and demonstrable value for money for the taxpayer.
“There are no corners to cut here.
“Labour looks forward to seeing a fully detailed proposal in the very near future, complete with a fully independent and credible land valuation report.
“Only then can we and the football club move forward," he said.
A spokesman for West Northamptonshire Council confirmed the meeting has been cancelled.
He said: “The Sixfields site has a number of complicated factors, which mean the council needs further legal and commercial advice to ensure it secures the best deal available.
"Whilst the council is keen to conclude this matter, it will take whatever time is required to ensure it takes a fully informed decision.
“The proposed full council meeting was pencilled in for December 1 to allow for a full discussion, but was cancelled once it was clear it would not have all the information needed for an informed debate.”
No date for a rearranged meeting has been announced yet.