The leader of Norwich City Council has hit back at accusations a U-turn on her part convinced the environment secretary to bankroll the controversial incinerator at King’s Lynn.

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Government officials this week responded to West Norfolk Council’s intention to challenge Caroline Spelman’s decision to award Norfolk County Council £91m waste credits for an incinerator at Saddlebow.

Defra’s letter showed how city council leader Brenda Arthur wrote to them on January 9, stating the city council had passed a motion in January 2007 that it was against incineration.

But, with Ms Spelman having told the county council she was not convinced there was “broad consensus” supporting the Norfolk Waste Strategy, it emerged she telephoned Ms Arthur a week later.

In that conversation, Ms Arthur said the city council supported the Norfolk Waste Partnership. Two days later the credits were awarded.

Claire Stephenson, leader of the Green group at the city council, said: “Brenda Arthur agreed to write to the secretary of state to explain that the city council opposes incineration after she was petitioned to do so by 15 Green and four Liberal Democrat councillors.

“It was clear the view of the city council was that the council opposed incineration in Norfolk.

“If Ms Arthur then said that the city council was content to go along with a strategy which included the creation of an incinerator in Norfolk, she was speaking for herself, not on behalf of other councillors. This would seem to be an abuse of her position.”

But Ms Arthur said: “I only ever put the view of the council, which was that in January 2007 the council agreed a motion against incineration.

“And in February 2007 the council approved the waste management strategy taking us up to 2012, supporting both the Norfolk Waste Strategy and the national strategy.

“The person who seconded that was then Green party leader Adrian Ramsay, so it might be better for the Green party to check their facts before throwing mud at me.”

Ms Arthur said she had told Ms Spelman the city council was committed to working with the waste partnership, but said the word incinerator was never used.

dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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