Archive for year: 2013

David Mackintosh

Abington Street plans approved

Northampton Borough Council’s Cabinet approved a report which outlined how Abington Street could be rejuvenated with £3 million new investment in supporting businesses and help shoppers coming into the town centre with great accessibility and more parking.

The investment will also support the wider regeneration of the town centre. Which has seen millions of pounds invested in North Gate bus station, a new railway station, new student accommodation, improved office facilities and improvements to the appearance of the town centre.
 
As another exciting Northampton Alive project, Abington Street would be reopened to traffic with parking and dropping off points for businesses and shoppers. When reopened, Abington Street will allow one way traffic movement from St Giles Terrace along Abington Street to Wellington Street.
 
Cllr David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said “Reopening Abington Street will provide a vital boost to our local economy. With more seats, plants and a new access routes we will see more shoppers using the top of Abington Street.
 
“With more visitors the area will be more attractive to businesses and that will help our existing shops and traders. Doing nothing is not an option, so I am pleased that we are going to discuss real plans to invest in our town and how we can support our business community.”

David Mackintosh

Increased free parking part of budget plans

The Leader of Northampton Borough Council, Cllr David Mackintosh, has today announced budget plans with increased support for businesses, increased free parking, investment in communities and a freeze in Council Tax for the fourth year in succession are at the heart of budget proposals for 2014/15.

A challenging programme of internal cost-cutting measures is proposed to tackle the shortfall and prevent the budget gap growing even further in 2015/16.

There will be a focus on investment, despite the need for the Borough Council to make savings to deal with a budget shortfall of £3.4 million in the next financial year.

The gap has already been reduced significantly by work to streamline management and cut back office costs. Around £1m has been saved by halving the number of senior managers and sharing services with other authorities, leaving a shortfall of around £2 million to be found in the coming financial year. This shortfall will be met by a further programme of restructures and cost savings to create a leaner and more efficient organisation.

The proposals for investment will support businesses to encourage growth and job creation.

The Borough Council will set up a business incentive scheme, with an initial contribution of £250,000 to fund measures aimed to fill empty properties and help small businesses. The scheme would be in addition to the cap on business rate increases and doubling of Small Business Rate Relief that were announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last week.

There are also proposals to drive footfall in the town centre, including offering free parking in the town’s four multi-storey car parks every Saturday throughout the year and extending the one hour free offer in the multi-storey car parks to two hours. This follows a successful trial this summer and over the Christmas period. This will start at the beginning of April 2014.

The opening hours of both Northampton Borough Council museums would also be extended to attract more visitors to both Abington Park and the town centre, and there would be investment in the number of neighbourhood wardens and park rangers providing visible support in communities.

There are also proposals for a capital programme investment of more than £13 million to be spent on infrastructure projects that will open the way to further regeneration, such as the demolition of the Greyfriars bus station and the reopening of the middle section of Abington Street to traffic.

Cllr David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said that as the council’s income from central government falls, there is a need to develop a sustainable strategy to deal with the pressures and grow income in the future.

“Funding for local government has continued to fall and we have had to find ways to take forward our ambitious plans for regeneration that will make Northampton more prosperous in the long term.”

“We have already reduced our costs, which has closed the budget gap by more than £1million, and we will continue to drive management costs down so that we can balance the budget and make the investments those businesses and communities want to see.”

“We have a vision of a prosperous town with a vibrant economy and we believe that these proposals will keep that strategy on track and help us to continue to deliver for local people in the future.”

The proposals will be considered at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 18th December at 6pm.

There will then be a period of consultation to give people the opportunity to have their say on the plans, including at a public meeting on 30th January 2014 and at the Borough Council’s forums.

The final draft budget will be considered at a Cabinet meeting on 19th February 2014 before Full Council sets the budget on 24th February.

David Mackintosh

New management for council homes

The Leader of Northampton Borough Council, Cllr David Mackintosh, has tonight welcomed new plans for the future managment of Council homes which were approved by councillors.

Over the past 15 months, an in-depth review has been carried out into how Northampton’s 12,100 council homes are maintained and managed. The review is now complete and has recommended that housing is transferred to an Arm’s Length Management Organisation (ALMO). 

The review was prompted by the need to find a financially sustainable way to update the council’s housing stock and provide local people with decent homes and improvements in service.

The review has been carried out by two panels, one of tenants and one of housing staff. They have looked in detail – using advice from experts in finance and property – at the work needed to raise the standard of homes and neighbourhoods and how this could be funded.

The panels examined six options for the future management of the council’s housing, including transferring the stock to a completely independent body, or simply leaving things as they are. The options were then scored on their viability and the quality of service that they would provide for tenants in Northampton, before both panels made a recommendation.

Both tenants and staff said that an ALMO would provide the most stable and sustainable way to manage housing for the future. They said that this route would create a locally-focussed organisation that was able to concentrate on maintaining and improving homes and that would allow for greater involvement of tenants and staff in setting its direction.

Under an ALMO, the housing stock would still be owned by the council and tenants would remain as council tenants, with all their current rights protected.  An ALMO would focus solely on managing and improving these homes while the Council would still be responsible for the wider, strategic issues.

Cllr David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said that this option would provide a more efficient and effective service to meet the needs of local people.

“We want to make sure that our tenants receive a high standard of service from their landlord and that they will have better homes in the future. Tenants quite rightly have high aspirations and they have decided that based on the facts, an ALMO is the best way to make sure that their voices are heard so that they can play a part in making those aspirations a reality.”

“New rules on housing stock transfer mean that financially, transferring our homes to a completely separate body is no longer an option but we need change to help raise the standard of council homes. I agree with the tenants’ view that a new, local management organisation would have the strong focus and clear accountability to tenants that would lead to improvements in the service in Northampton.”

David Mackintosh

Small Business Saturday

In his first engagement as Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Northampton Borough Council Leader David Mackintosh today visited some of the town’s many great independent businesses to mark the UK’s first ever Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is a Government-backed event that has crossed the pond from America, where it has become a way of raising awareness of the contribution independent businesses make to the economy and encouraging people to shop local.

7th December is expected to be one of the busiest trading days of the year and shoppers are being asked to support their ‘high street heroes’ on that day and throughout the coming year.

In Northampton, the Borough Council is offering free parking all day on 7th December and every Saturday in the run up to Christmas in the Mayorhold, St Michael’s, St John’s and the Grosvenor Centre car parks

To show his support and gain a greater understanding of running a small business, Cllr David Mackintosh met independent cookshop Abraxas and wine merchant and art gallery Wine Connection, both in the town centre.  Wine Connection is marking the date with an evening tasting session.

The focus then moved to Wellingborough Road, which is filled with independent shops, boutiques, restaurants and pubs. Cllr Mackintosh visited Commonn, a fashion store, selling exclusive, locally-made men’s footwear and designer clothing, and then triathlon and running shop Tri Running, and Skears Photographic.

Cllr Mackintosh said “Small businesses really matter. There are thousands of small businesses in Northampton employing thousands of people. We have some really innovative and enterprising small companies in Northampton and we have put a number of measures in place such as free parking offers, or our tourist website Love Northampton to show our support for them.”

“One of the features that make Northampton different from other major towns is our wealth of independent stores and restaurants and Small Business Saturday is a way to shine the spotlight on them and encourage people to use them.”

David Mackintosh

David selected as Conservative Parliamentary Candidate

Cllr David Mackintosh was today selected as the Conservative Party Candidate for Northampton South at the General Election when Brian Binley MP retires. David was selected at an Open Primary of voters from across Northampton South and Conservative Party members.

Following his selection, David started by paying tribute to Brian Binley. He said, “Brian Binley has been a hardworking MP and a strong local voice for Northampton. He and I have worked well together on kick starting the Northampton Alive regeneration projects and Brian will be a tough act to follow.”

David, who was born and grew up in Northampton, added, “I am not taking anything for granted and will work hard to earn every vote to continue working hard for the town I love.”

David Mackintosh

Remembering Nelson Mandela

Following the death of the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, members of the public can come into The Guildhall to sign the book and leave their tributes.

The book of condolence will be available for mourners to sign from 10.30am until 5pm today, Friday 6th December, from 9am-3pm on Saturday 7th and from 9am until 5pm on Monday 9th – Friday 13th December.

The tributes will then be sent on to the South Africa High Commission in London.

Cllr David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said “People across Northampton and across the world will be saddened to hear that Nelson Mandela has died. I remember his release from prison in 1990 and his subsequent election as President of South Africa and he became an inspiration to many people.”

“He visited Northampton in November 2002 to pay his respects at the grave of Diana, Princess of Wales at Althorp and many people across the town will want to pause and remember him.”

The flag at The Guildhall has also been lowered to half-mast to mark President Mandela’s death.

David Mackintosh

Senior management costs continue to fall

The Leader of Northampton Borough Council, Cllr David Mackintosh, has today revealed that the cost of senior management at Northampton Borough Council has reduced by 50% since Conservatives took control.

The number of senior managers has been cut from 21 to 10 as a result of work to streamline the organisation and create efficiencies.

As a result, total pay and remuneration for senior managers has fallen from £1.68 million to around £850,000 currently, a reduction of about £850,000 or around 50%.

This reduction – along with savings made by sharing back office functions such as HR and finance with other authorities through the shared services scheme with Northamptonshire County Council – has helped to close the budget gap and will safeguard investment in frontline services and regeneration in the next budget setting period, which begins next week.

Cllr David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said  “I promised to streamline the management of the Borough Council so it is as efficient and well run as possible. We have made significant savings that have enabled us to be efficient and continue to support the provision of essential services to local people. This has also allowed us to prioritise investment in the town’s future prosperity.”

“At the same time, we have maintained the right skills to lead on growth and have made major leaps forward in the Northampton Alive regeneration agenda.”

“I will continue to look at ways to reduce the cost of our support services and make sure we focus on really delivering for local people.”

The Borough Council’s budget proposals for 2014/15 will be discussed by the Cabinet on 18th December and a full public consultation will begin on 19th December. 

David Mackintosh

Sixfield Stadium plans approved

Plans to develop Sixfields Stadium have tonight been approved by Northampton Borough Council’s Planning Committee.

The application, submitted by Northampton Town Football Club, will see the East Stand remodelled and extended to provide additional seating that increases capacity from 7,653 to 10,000. Other alterations include a new conference suite with banqueting hall, gymnasium, office space and food kiosks.  There are also provisions for additional parking, improved access for people with disabilities, landscaping and a new access road off Edgar Mobbs Way.
 
The expansion is the first stage of a multi-million pound redevelopment of the area which would support growth in the Enterprise Zone and bring forward more revenue streams for the football club.  Additional planning applications for housing, local retail facilities and a hotel are expected to be submitted soon.
 
Cllr David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said “This planning application represents an important step in the expansion of Sixfields Stadium.  Our sports clubs are an important part of life in our town and a significant benefit to the local economy. We as an administration have always recognised how important they are and we remain absolutely committed to supporting them so I am delighted that these plans have been approved.”

David Mackintosh

Switching on the Christmas lights

The countdown to Christmas in Northampton started today with the annual Christmas lights switch on and beginning of late night shopping.

Heart Breakfast presenters Stuart and Natalie started the countdown to Christmas along with Royal & Derngate panto stars Linda Lusardi and Sam Kane in front of The Guildhall.

As an early Christmas present for shoppers, it will be free to park from 21st November until Christmas in all Borough Council car parks from 3pm on Thursdays and all day on Saturdays in pay on foot car parks, Mayorhold, Grosvenor, St Michael’s and St John’s.

Cllr David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said “Every year the day the Christmas lights go on is a special date for the young and young at heart of our town. It is the start of late night Christmas shopping, and it is also when Santa Claus will start to appear in Northampton to listen to what the good girls and boys would like on Christmas Day.”

“And, it is the start of our free parking offers, so come into Northampton and join us in welcoming the Christmas spirit. So I am sure we will see lots of excited faces helping the stars of Sleeping Beauty and Heart Breakfast count down to the big moment when our town is glowing with festive cheer.”

For a full list of what’s happening when and everything else going on in Northampton this Christmas visit www.christmasinnorthampton.co.uk/.

David Mackintosh

Demolition of gasometers for new development

The demolition of the gasholder on St Peter’s waterside took place this week signalling a key step in Northampton’s regeneration. 

Once demolished, the northern gasholder site, which is closest to the St Peters Way roundabout, will be regenerated to form part of St Peter’s Waterside – a major new office scheme.

The southern area of the site is also being prepared for regeneration. This includes a former depot building, which has now been demolished and a second gasholder that is scheduled to be dismantled from late November. The two gasholders will take 16 weeks to demolish in total and will be complete by late spring 2014.  A programme of environmental improvement works on the southern area of the site is also likely to be carried out next summer.

National Grid has submitted a planning application to Northampton Borough Council for outline planning permission to use the southern area of the site for retail development. If permission is granted, National Grid will look for a partner who will develop detailed plans of how the site may one day be used.

Cllr David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said “Demolition of the St Peter’s Way gasholder is another real milestone in the Borough’s regeneration, paving the way for new commercial development which will form an important part of Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone’s offer.”

“These structures hark back to our industrial history but serve no constructive purpose in modern day Northampton. We have also received an application related to the former gasworks site off Towcester Road, development of which must complement our town centre offer while fitting into the wider Enterprise Zone context.”

“It is just one element of our massive programme of renewal which is transforming the face of Northampton, evidence of which can be seen almost everywhere you look.”