December 12 2013 Latest news:
Tom Bristow and Dan Grimmer
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
A leading Conservative is facing a council complaint after he called a campaigner a “dumb nut” in a row over a Norwich woodland.
Cliff Jordan, who was county council cabinet member for efficiency at the time – ahead of last Thursday’s local elections when he was re-elected – made the remark in an email which he apparently sent to a council officer as well as the campaigner Alan Cubbage, from the Friends of Marriott’s Way group.
Mr Cubbage said he had made a complaint to the county council because he felt Mr Jordan’s behaviour was “not appropriate”.
A Norfolk County Council spokesman confirmed the complaint had been received.
Mr Jordan said he had made the “dumb nut” comment because the Friends of Marriott’s Way group had taken a petition which called for the site not to be auctioned to Norwich City Council rather than to the county council which owns the site.
The member for Yare and All Saints division, near Dereham, said he had sent the email to Mr Cubbage to prove that he was not being secretive.
The comments were made as a dispute broke out over the woodland’s future.
Backed by Green Party city councillors, the Friends of Marriott’s Way group have been campaigning to stop the woodland at the start of the path from being auctioned by the county council.
The authority has agreed to pull the £25,000 site from a planned auction for six months to give another community group a chance to buy it.
That group has no connection to the Friends of Marriott’s Way who say Mr Jordan’s announcement sounded like a deal done behind closed doors.
The Evening News has established the other group is led by land owner consultant Gail Mayhew.
She said she approached her then county councillor, Conservative member Philip Hardy who quit the Greens in December 2011, to ask about the land.
Following a meeting with Mr Jordan it was agreed the land would be taken off the market for six months so that Mrs Mayhew’s proposal could be put forward.
She said a meeting will now be held later in May to invite all those with an interest in maintaining the woods as a community asset to get involved.
But the Friends of Marriott’s Way will hold their own meeting on Thursday to put forward their own plans for the site.
Lucy Galvin, Green party city councillor for Wensum ward, said: “This land is too important to be decided by a deal being done behind closed doors.
“We have a number of community groups, including access, heritage and cycling groups all working together to get this land listed as a community asset by Norwich City Council.
She added: “It’s good if this land is pulled from auction, but we are seeking a meeting with Cliff Jordan and this individual to find out what this is all about.”
The Friends of Marriott’s Way will meet on Thursday at 7pm, St Luke’s Church on Aylsham Road, Norwich. For more details contact 01603 477439.