I’ve been away from here for a while, and in that time, the story of the missing £10.25 million lent to the Cobblers has blown up (slight understatement)
There has been a reticence, probably for very good reasons, for any real investigative journalism, but the BBC Inside Out team did an excellent job this evening, trying to piece together, as best they could, where the money may have ended up. I recommend you view it on the iplayer
One element of this story that is wholly unsurprising is that our representatives at the Borough Council seem very keen to emphasise that it’s not their point and that they were just doing as they were told. David Mackintosh, the leader of the Borough Council at the time, refused to be interviewed for the BBC, but he issued a statement saying that he had to go by the advice that the Borough Council officers provided to Cabinet, of which more later. He was happy to be associated with the loan whilst he was still at the Borough Council.
And Mary Markham, his replacement as leader of the Borough Council, is happy to let us know that she was just a member of the Cabinet at the time, so she really had nothing to do with the loan.
As I said, it’s unsurprising. But the quote that annoyed me was this one from Mary Markham : “It’s the townspeople of Northampton who have lost this money.”
Er, no. The townspeople of Northampton didn’t lend this money to a football club and their development partner. The townspeople of Northampton didn’t appear in local media outlets proclaiming how they were helping the club develop the stadium. The townspeople of Northampton didn’t sit by whilst the stadium development went nowhere and the club got closer to the brink.
All that the townspeople in Northampton did was expected that the Borough Council, be they elected representatives or officers, would carry out their roles in a responsible manner, would provide the services that they are required to provide, and would look after the funds that they have raised from the Council Tax payer. In this, the Borough Council has fallen short. Mary Markham would have been closer to the truth had she said that it’s the Borough Council that has lost this money, and it’s the townspeople of Northampton who will have to suffer for this.