Seven people charged over donations to Conservative local association

“The defendants have been charged under a section of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 which requires donors of over £500 to a political party to give details of the source of the funds.” 

The BBC reports a dramatic twist in a long running saga:

Seven people have been charged with electoral offences by police investigating a missing £10.25m loan to Northampton Town Football Club.

The six men and one woman have been charged over donations made to Northampton South Conservative Association in 2014.

It is alleged they failed to ensure the true source of the money was disclosed.

They are due to appear before Northampton Magistrates’ Court on 16 July.

The hearings will take place almost six years after the launch of Operation Tuckhill, the police inquiry into the disappearance of money loaned by Northampton Borough Council to the football club to pay for the redevelopment of its East Stand and nearby land.

The stand remains uncompleted.

The defendants have been charged under a section of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 which requires donors of over £500 to a political party to give details of the source of the funds. [BBC]

To give some context, earlier this year a KPMG report found serious problems over the loan:

A £10.25m council loan to a football club for use on a stadium redevelopment had “serious failings”, a report found.

Northampton Borough Council loaned the money, which has since disappeared, to Northampton Town in 2013 and 2014 to rebuild a stand and develop land.

The Public Interest Report “calls into question the legality” of decision-making over the deal…

It found “serious failings” in the council’s “arrangements” over the loan and said it should have been possible to “foresee the risk of the council being exposed to financial loss or liability” and it “should have mitigated that risk accordingly”.

A failure to do this “rendered the decisions… unlawful”, the report said…

The report authors were told by officers and councillors there had been pressure, “mainly” from David Mackintosh, the then Conservative leader of the council, to complete the deal. [BBC]

“Crudding” his way through

Apparently a school newspaper report at Eton College described Boris Johnson (playing the Eton Wall Game of course) in these terms: “Watch the Blond Behemoth crud relentlessly through the steaming pile of purple-and-orange heavyweights.” 

Boris Johnson continues to “crud” his way through politics but for how much longer will it work with the electorate?

Councillor resigns over ‘animosity and bad feeling’ between Colyton and Colyford

Colyton parish council scores again in its bid to become East Devon’s very own Handforth, with Honiton town council in close contention.

(Andrew Parr is now in his 14th or 15th consecutive term of office as chairman of Colyton parish council. No doubt he is what is often referred to in political circles as “a safe pair of hands”.) – Owl

Francesca Evans 

Howard West has resigned from Colyton Parish Council, saying he had 'reached the end of my tether'

Howard West has resigned from Colyton Parish Council, saying he had ‘reached the end of my tether’

A member of Colyton Parish Council has resigned, saying there is too much “animosity and bad feeling” between the communities of Colyton and neighbouring Colyford.

Howard West announced his immediate resignation following Monday evening’s council meeting.

In a letter sent to the parish clerk and all councillors, he wrote: “It is with some regret that I decided to resign as a Colyton parish councillor with immediate effect, as at the end of last evening’s council meeting.

“I have put every effort that I could muster to support the work of the council, but I feel that I have reached the end of my tether in witnessing what is going on, or not going on, in the council on a day to day basis.

“There is so much animosity and bad feeling towards Colyford in general, and I feel that I have failed in trying to bring the two communities together, as has been seen in the last few months in particular.

“At the same time, I have done everything I could to assist in solving many of the Colyton-based matters, as and when these have occurred.”

Mr West also raised issue with long-serving council chairman Andrew Parr being re-elected for another year.

He continued: “You heard in my resignation speech that I feel strongly that the council chairman should stand down after three years, to make way for a replacement with his or her ways of chairing the council.

“Our current chairman Andrew Parr has now been re-elected to serve his 14th or 15th consecutive term of office, which I and others feel is not good for the community as a whole.”

Mr West called for a vote of no confidence in Cllr Parr in December 2020, which failed by one vote.

He also verbally resigned from the parish council in October 2020 over arguments surrounding the Neighbourhood Plan, but later rescinded this before submitting a formal written notice of resignation.

The process of establishing a Neighbourhood Plan, which aims to guide future sustainable change, growth and development within the parish, has been plagued with controversy over the past five years, with claims of “turf wars” between Colyton and Colyford and a mass resignation of volunteers back in 2016, which included Mr West.

Commenting on the Neighbourhood Plan in his resignation from Colyton Parish Council this week, Mr West said: “The way that the Neighbourhood Plan was pushed through without any real discussions prior to both the Regulation 14 and 16 processes, was unforgivable, and many important comments received during the process were not even discussed by the council.

“I will not say any more about many other matters of my concerns. However, I do hope that Colyton Parish Council does face up to these problems, and the future situation improves dramatically.”

Colyton Parish Council declined the opportunity to respond to Mr West’s comments.

Mr West’s resignation leaves one vacancy on the council, with three having been filled by an election last month.

The current vacancy will be filled by election if 10 or more electors call for a vote, or otherwise will be filled by co-option.

Save our Environment: Save Lewis Haye!

Attempt to save 3 acre site in Sidmouth Road on the edge of Colyton (with “planning potential”) by crowd funding a bid. 

Lewis Haye (formerly Seller’s Grave) is for sale by sealed tender on 30th June, at a starting price of £60,000.

The land is Green Wedge and in this time of Climate Emergency we desperately want to protect this beautiful landscape from commercial development – to plant trees and wildflowers for the local community to enjoy, both now and in future years.

The land will be held in trust and fund are for the purchase of the land and legal fees associated with this and setting up of the trust to maintain the site. 

More details and contacts here