Jonathan Nunn steps down as leader of West Northamptonshire Council

‘It has been a huge distraction not only to me, but also to all the good work of the council’
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The leader of West Northamptonshire Council has announced this evening that his is stepping down.

In a statement Jonathan Nunn said: “I continue to deny the allegations being made against me, and I am pursuing discussions with the police relating to the relentless harassment I have experienced.

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“This long-term campaign against me has taken its toll on me and has become particularly intolerable since January.

Jonathan NunnJonathan Nunn
Jonathan Nunn

"Whilst I have suffered this from the individual leading this campaign for over 25 years, the threatening behaviour shown towards people at the council is unacceptable and the recent bombardment of both officers and members with emails as part of this sustained campaign has been overwhelming for everyone affected.

“It has been a huge distraction not only to me, but also to all the good work of the Council.

“With all this having a massive impact on my mental health and wellbeing, I have decided to step down as Council Leader while I deal with these issues.

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“I have never been anything but open and honest about my previous a conviction for assault and a community order 20 years ago, speaking about this publicly and this being a matter of public record for many years, since before I was elected as a borough and now a unitary councillor by members of the public and became council leader.

“This harassment campaign led by a particular individual, whose previous behaviour has been recognised by a court, is fuelled by a number of motivations which may not be clear to the public, but are abundantly clear to me. They follow a swathe of demands for taxpayers’ money despite there being no evidence that it’s due. I hope in time that a truer, fuller picture of this whole situation will be made clear.

“I am extremely proud of my achievements as Leader of the Council during a challenging time for local government and since the council was formed three years ago. West Northants Council is in a very good place.

“It is incredibly difficult to take this decision, not because of the job title but because of the pride and passion I feel for the council and the area that it serves. However, our greatest achievement has been to build a strong council that will continue to deliver for local residents.

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“Following my decision to step down as Leader, the Council will be confirming the arrangements that will now be put in place.”WNC issued a statement this afternoon (Thursday April 18), following mounting pressure for the leader of the council to resign after BBC investigations published further allegations against Cllr Nunn, relating to domestic abuse.

A spokesperson for the council said Cllr Nunn has denied the allegations and added that the council are “not in a position to validate” what has been alleged. The authority has urged any individuals concerned to contact the police.

The statement said: “We fully understand the concerns people will have in the light of the current media coverage relating to the serious allegations surrounding the leader of the council.

“The council is clear in our position that domestic abuse and violence of any kind, is totally unacceptable. We would always urge anyone who has been a victim of this to report this to the police or seek support from one our local domestic abuse support organisations. We are committed to working with and supporting our partners on tackling the issue of domestic abuse.

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“We consider these as serious allegations that the leader has strenuously denied to us. As a council we are not in a position to validate them as that is a matter for the police but would encourage individuals concerned to report them to the police so that they can be investigated through the appropriate channels. This is the advice we have received from the police since the allegations began.

“There is a democratic process relating to elected members such as the leader of the council and an extraordinary meeting is scheduled for May 9 to consider these issues. In the meantime our continued focus as a council is on our important work to deliver services across our community.”

The former council leader was convicted and sentenced to a community order for an assault in 2004, however further allegations have come to light recently.

Opposition parties began calling for Cllr Nunn’s resignation last week following allegations in two national media publications. Pressure has continued to mount.

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Following these calls, on Tuesday (April 16), it was confirmed that an extraordinary meeting has been scheduled for May 9 after eight WNC councillors backed a motion of 'no confidence' in Cllr Nunn. The meeting, which will no longer go ahead, would have allowed councillors to debate and vote on whether they have confidence in the current leader.