Anti-domestic abuse march to take to streets of Northampton

The march, organised by a local domestic abuse support group, will take place later this afternoon (May 16).
The march, organised by a local domestic abuse support group, will take place later this afternoon (May 16). -Credit:Nadia Lincoln LDRS / Domestic abuse is not a personal matter

A silent march will be held today (Thursday, May 16) through the streets of Northampton, ending outside the Guildhall, to protest against the council's handling of domestic abuse allegations against the former leader.

A series of allegations were published last month including claims from multiple women that the ex-West Northants Council (WNC) leader Jonathan Nunn abused them. Nunn has repeatedly denied the accusations but voluntarily stepped down and quit the Conservative group once pressure against him mounted.

Anger is still held by many people in the county- including domestic abuse survivors and allies alike- who want to see an apology from the council and to see Cllr Nunn, who now sits and an independent, resign.

Domestic abuse campaigner and march organiser Hannah Martin said she wants the WNC to realise the full effect of recent events and the impact felt by fellow victims.

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Hannah Martin, domestic abuse campaigner.
Hannah Martin, domestic abuse campaigner. -Credit:Hannah Martin

She said: "We’re doing this because women aren’t being listened to. It is just a thing that’s happening to so many women within our community.

"[The council] said that domestic abuse is a 'personal matter' and that counteracts everything that I’m trying to achieve. I want women to come forward and talk about their stories.

"We want members of the council to really understand the impacts of domestic abuse and maybe do some training on it, speak to survivors, and actually realise what it is like for us- and how dare you say domestic abuse is a private matter because it’s really not."

Many other charities have also raised issues with the council's handling of the allegations, including chief exec Anna Earnshaw's comment that "the claims about domestic violence were a personal matter". A group letter was sent to the authority in April who has since organised a meeting with charity representatives to talk through the issues.

Hannah is the founder of a local domestic abuse support group 'The Women's Empowerment Group'. She has said the interest in the march has been widespread from people within her organisation to WNC councillors to members of the public.

She added: "Collectively a few of us decided that this would probably be the best way we are ever going to get anywhere because I do believe there is definite strength in numbers.

"Nunn is still working as an independent councillor and I think he should do the honourable thing and resign.

"Domestic abuse is the loneliest time ever, you feel like no one’s going to help you. The fact that so many people are coming together is so empowering.

"It’s going to give people more confidence in the future to step forward."

A WNC spokesperson said: “We are fully committed to working with and supporting all our partners on tackling domestic abuse and addressing the impact of these matters on the victims and our wider community.

"Violence of any kind is totally unacceptable and we always urge anyone who has experienced this to seek support from one of our domestic abuse or sexual violence support organisations and report it to the police.

“Through our Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Board and the Community Safety Partnership we are working together with local support organisations, the police and health partners on a range of initiatives to tackle these serious issues.

"Our Leader and Chief Executive will also be meeting representatives from local domestic abuse and sexual violence organisations later this month to listen to and talk through the issues they have recently raised and to reaffirm the strong and united stance we take against domestic abuse and sexual violence in West Northants.”

The march will begin at 4pm today at the top of Abington Street in Northampton town centre.

Cllr Nunn has been contacted for comment.