A “bizarre” blunder has caused an anti-incinerator campaigner to make a dramatic withdrawal from his bid to become an independent councillor at Norfolk County Council.

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Richard Burton, an independent environmental consultant who has been one of the most vocal critics of plans for an incinerator at Saddlebow, near King’s Lynn, had been named as one of the candidates in the Clenchwarton and King’s Lynn South by-election.

But Mr Burton, who lives in Clenchwarton, announced last night, with polling day three weeks away, that he had decided to withdraw, after he realised he had made a mistake on his nomination form.

He said: “To stand for election 10 people have to nominate you. In one case it turns out that two houses on the same street both display the same street number. This is because one house is on a corner, and really belongs to the adjoining street.

“By a bizarre coincidence, the people at both houses have the same surname and similar initials. This resulted in me collecting the signature from the nominee but, when later using the electoral register, filling in the details of the person at the other house.

“This error was entirely my own. I felt it was important to be honest and inform Electoral Services immediately, as it would be wrong for me to mislead the electorate.

“Although the error was made in good faith, and my nomination remained valid, this did mean that if I continued to stand as a candidate I could be challenged in the High Court.

“My election agent or I could be liable for costs, and I am not willing to put my family or anyone else at financial risk.”

With reference to his fellow campaigner’s failed attempt to force a judicial review into Norfolk County Council’s decision to award a contract for the incinerator at Saddlebow, he added: “I know from Michael de Whalley’s experience in the High Court, that there are those who are prepared to claim severe costs from those who stand against them.

“Neither can I risk damaging the anti-incinerator campaign should anyone else try to portray this as anything other than the honest and improbable mistake it is. I have to do the right thing, and for this reason I had to withdraw.”

He added: “I would like to apologise to all the many people who have helped with the campaign, and to thank those who have supported me. I will be standing as a candidate for the same seat when it is contested again next May.

“I urge everyone to use their vote wisely, by voting only for the parties at County Hall who oppose the incinerator, and who respected the referendum result.”

The by-election, which will take place on Thursday, September 27, was triggered following the death of Conservative David Harwood.

The remaining candidates are: Paul Foster (Conservatives), Alexandra Kemp (Labour), Kate Sayer (Liberal Democrats) and Michael Stone (UK Independence Party).

6 comments

  • If the burner has been called in there is no need to stand. Like many Richard Burton has shown how inexperienced NCC is. His environmental knowledge has highlighted how NCC has colluded to allow false or irrelevant information to be used in the planning process by CW. Best to read how the candidates had worked hard to reject the burner and what action they promise to take on future. Those that did nothing will join the dole queue.

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    Choice

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • If the burner has been called in there is no need to stand. Like many Richard Burton has shown how inexperienced NCC is. His environmental knowledge has highlighted how NCC has colluded to allow false or irrelevant information to be used in the planning process by CW. Best to read how the candidates had worked hard to reject the burner and what action they promise to take on future. Those that did nothing will join the dole queue.

    Report this comment

    Choice

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • As I understand it the nomination paper was accepted by the Borough as being valid and it was only the fear of another party (and who could that be?) taking civil litigation against this decent chap with a young family. People should take note of that.

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    alecto

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • Step forward all those who have never made a mistake in their lives. It would be foolish for Murphy et al to mock Richard Burton, for he has shown honesty, openness and transparency they could only dream of. Murphy himself certainly has no room to crow, particularly as it needed an investigation to reveal his wrongdoing rather than hold his hands up and save the taxpayer the expense.

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    Honest John

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • I am sure Mr Murphy will not mock - he has stressed his support for the democratic process many times and indeed was recently offended at suggestions that that his attendance at a public meeting and promised financial support for changes to a dangerous road junction were anything to do with the forthcoming by election. Given his stated abhorrence of such pork barrel politics I am sure his sympathies are with Mr Burton. In any event Mr Burton will get another chance in May 2013 and after all, many of us often need a second chance – for example NCC are now on their third major attempt at a waste management solution.

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    Alistair Beales

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • A mistake that is easily done, even by experienced election agents. The time constraints and stress during by elections is intense and the ambivalent house numbering, postmen and women can vouch for this, the fact that the same named family has relatives living round the corner, all makes this an easy mistake to make. Mr. Burton will win next year, I'm sure of it.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, September 7, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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