Council sorry for woeful £10.25m club loan

Council sorry for woeful £10.25m club loan

The leader of a council whose £10.25m loan to a football club went missing has apologised for the “woeful and disappointing way” it was granted.

Northampton Borough Council’s Jonathan Nunn was speaking at a full council meeting which discussed a public interest report into the loan.

The Tory-run authority loaned the money to Northampton Town in 2013 and 2014 to rebuild a stand and develop land.

Mr Nunn said processes to protect public funds had been “lacking”.

The KPMG report, published in January, said the loan had “serious failings”.

Work on the stadium was not completed after contractors went unpaid.

A police investigation into what happened to the loan cash has been completed and the Crown Prosecution Service is considering what action to take.

Mr Nunn said: “This is an extremely important report; the granting of this loan some years ago was done in a woeful and badly disappointing way.

“When the loan was not repaid the processes that should have brought security and peace of mind, protecting public funds, were lacking and they were not adequate to protect the public purse.

“This report makes that clear.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Sally Beardsworth called the loan a “terrible, terrible decision”.

The report authors had been told by officers and councillors there had been pressure, “mainly” from David Mackintosh, the then Conservative leader of the council who went on to be MP for Northampton South, to complete the deal.

Ms Beardsworth said: “This is an absolute disgrace. This was awarded almost as a dictatorship by one person pushing it through.”

She said members of the council’s Cabinet at the time were “culpable” for not “asking the right questions”.

Labour opposition leader Danielle Stone said the decision would “haunt Northampton for many, many years”.

Fellow Labour councillor Jane Birch added: “This ill-advised and badly managed £10.25m loan has caused immeasurable reputational damage to the borough.”

She said the “real cost” of the loan after interest and the money spent trying to recoup it was £16m-£17m.

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