Daventry Conservatives ditch canal arm in favour of ‘realistically achievable’ projects before switch to unitary local government

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The Daventry District Conservative Group says it will focus on delivering a new retail park, an outstanding Ofsted secondary school and a multi-screen cinema for the town before the creation of unitary councils in Northamptonshire takes place.

With the political landscape of the county set to change in the coming years, the group has chosen to concentrate on achieving what it deems to be realistic goals in the time left before the district council and its monies are likely combined with another local authority.

The revised focus mean projects like the canal arm and Daventry WaterSpace will be put on hold until the political future of the county becomes clearer.

A spokesman for the DDCG said: “When reviewing the town centre priorities we recognised that to deliver on behalf of our town residents we have to focus on what can realistically be achieved in the timeframes we have left. 

“We feel it is important that we continue to deliver what we can before a larger entity takes over where we may not be in charge of our own destiny and the likelihood that these monies will be spent outside our district area.

“Our bold, ambitious agenda has already delivered many benefits to the town, which includes an improved education offer, investment in hi-tech and green local manufacturing facilities, as well as maintaining one of the lowest unemployment levels in the country.

“So our focus now will be on delivering a high-quality shopping experience on the new retail park around Chaucer Way and Waterloo; delivering an excellent Ofsted-rated secondary school to complement the existing education offer as the town’s population continues to grow; deliver a new multiscreen cinema alongside associated cafes, bistros and bars, thereby offering a leisure experience both during the daytime and evenings.”

The Chaucer Way retail park is also known as the Town Centre Vision Site 5 and the cinema project is the Site 1 proposal.

The district council’s Labour group agreed with the need for better shops in Daventry but was not impressed by the time it has taken the Conservative-controlled council to make progress on the retail park proposal.

“Labour wants a better range of shops in Daventry,” said Councillor Ken Ritchie (Labour, Abbey North).

“It has taken the Conservative-controlled council 14 years to make progress on the proposal for a retail park at the bottom of Ashby Road, and it has now come up with a plan that will cause misery for local residents.

“When nothing has been done to develop the town centre, there is a risk that, rather than attracting people to the centre, this new development will take people from it.”

Insofar as the new secondary school is concerned, Cllr Ritchie said the council was better off supporting education already in place in Daventry.

“Rather than backing our existing secondary schools, which have plenty spare capacity, they want to see a new school, linked to Sponne in Towcester, capable of achieving high Ofsted ratings,” he said.

“We don’t want one good school for a minority of Daventry’s children, leaving the rest in schools yet to achieve the standards we want. We must seek the best for all children – that means giving more positive support to the schools we already have.”
He added: “People have been asking for a new cinema for years. The Conservatives keep telling us they plan to deliver one but nothing has happened.

“Labour wants the council to stop wasting its time on trying to build a canal and instead work on the recreational facilities that will attract people to Daventry, and for us getting a cinema will be a priority.”