Monday, 23 January 2012

New Chief for Wellingborough Council... broken Herts in Herts?

According to the Borough Council of Wellingborough's newsletter the Link (January 2012 edition), our new Chief Executive, John Campbell, will save thousands of pounds avoiding a long journey each day from Northampton to his previous place of employment at North Hertfordshire District Council. Sounds like good news for him and the environment, although we understand he took a pay cut to be Wellingborough's new Chief. I hope its worth it for him. But may be not such good news for Wellingborough?

According to Private Eye, there may be another explanation for his move to Wellingborough. In their January edition (issue1305) PE reports as follows under the byline "Broken Herts":

"So farewell then John Campbell, chief exec of North Hertfordshire district council, who is off to run the smaller Wellingborough borough council in Northamptonshire.
Campbell has perhaps wisely decided to leave the sinking ship that is North Herts' £50m redevelopment plan to wreck Hitchin's historic town centre (Eyes assim). Rather than explain the details of the council's much-criticised secret "sweetheart" deal with developers Simons of Lincoln, he is taking a pay cut to move. His deputy Norma Atley has been left to try to explain to the district auditor exactly why the council is giving large chunks of Hitchin away to the developer for free."

Cllr. Bell, the Leader of Wellingborough Council, says in the same edition of the Link "...John is joining a council that must still make significant budget savings over the next few years. It's not going to be easy, but we've every confidence we have the right man for a very demanding task." No comment!



  1. This is much-to-do-about-nothing and Private Eye in their provoking style seem to be trying to with a hint that Mr Campbell is somehow financially gaining personally from the redevelopment of Hitchin town centre. It would seem they know little about local government in that the council members make the final decisions regarding development and in this age of austerity many councils offer free land for development else there would no development.

  2. I think Private Eye are right to make an issue of this deal with private developers if it is a "sweetheart" deal and is not open to public scrutiny, as they imply. You may be right about councils working with developers to get things going - but they should be transparent and accountable, otherwise it is legitimate to draw inferences that other things may be going on. There is a very murky history of such deals between developers and councils which presents a context for concern.