The deputy mayor of Northampton has apologised to a defecting Labour councillor after he ‘unintentionally’ slammed a door into his back.
Video footage taken by the Chronicle & Echo this morning shows Councillor Les Marriott, who is expected to become the town’s 773rd mayor at a civic ceremony next Thursday, swing the large wooden door at the Guildhall backwards so it crashes into Councillor Choudary.
Councillor Choudary had been standing at the top of the steps for a press conference to announce he had joined the Conservatives from the Labour group.
Councillor Marriott, who is deputy leader of the Labour group on Northampton Borough Council, has now apologised to Councillor Choudary and said “no harm was intended”.
A Labour Party spokesman said: “Councillor Marriott has personally rung Councillor Choudary to apologise and says no harm was intended it was unintentional.
“Councillor Marriott is pleased that Councillor Choudary accepted his explanation as to what happened, and his apology. Councillor Marriott was unaware Councillor Choudary had been struck by the door until he was contacted by the local press.”
The Labour party spokesman added the party was “disappointed” that Councillor Choudary had defected to the Conservatives.
The spokesman said: “We are obviously disappointed that following the Northampton Labour Group AGM, where Councillor Ifty Choudary was not elected to any position, he decided to join the Conservatives in Northampton.
“Northampton Labour is fighting to protect hard working people of Northampton from the effects of the Tory-led Government’s damaging polices which are hurting the people of Northampton, and we will continue to do so. As the main opposition at the Guildhall we will continue to hold this Conservative Administration to account.”
Speaking earlier, Councillor Mackintosh, who witnessed the incident this morning, said Councillor Marriott’s behaviour had not being befitting of someone in his position.
He said: “Anyone viewing the video will agree that this was totally unacceptable behaviour, especially from someone who is set to become Mayor of Northampton before the end of the month.
“Councillor Marriot should be making a full apology to Councillor Choudary, as well as to the public who have a right to expect better of the people representing them.”
Councillor Choudary said his defection to the Conservative group sent a clear message at the recent county council elections that they have no faith in Labour.”
He said: “Under the leadership of David Mackintosh the Conservatives are achieving great things in Northampton and are the only party representing the interests of the town. I became a borough councillor in May 2007 to do my best for the people of Abington and beyond, and I believe the best way to do that is as a member of the Conservative group.”
Councillor Mackintosh said: “‘At the county elections the public demonstrated their faith in us by returning a Conservative majority for another four years. The results in the borough would also give us a majority at the borough council elections in 2015. It is my goal to continue to work now, and in the future, to make Northampton a better place for it’s residents, and I am glad that others want to be a part of that.”
MP for Northampton North, Michael Ellis, said: “Ifty Choudary is a dedicated and hard working councillor who has done a lot for Northampton, and I am very pleased to welcome him to the Conservative Party.’
Councillor Choudary has been a controversial figure in some quarters having featured at the centre of a land deal in 2008-09 when he outbid a residents’ group to buy a 42-acre site at Kingsthorpe Meadows.
He also converted the former Millwheel pub in Lumbertubs into a community centre and only last month, he unveiled plans for another development scheme, this time to convert a former toielt block into a takeaway.
He was the shadow spokesman for community engagement at the Guildhall.
His defection means the Conservatives now have 26 seats on the 45-strong council.