Council leader denies claim lobbying over King’s Lynn incinerator was “inappropriate”

George Nobbs, who denies claims of 'inappropriate' lobbying over the incinerator. Picture: Bill Smith George Nobbs, who denies claims of 'inappropriate' lobbying over the incinerator. Picture: Bill Smith

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
12:08 PM

MPs were embroiled in another war of words with Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs, as it emerged one had accused him of “inappropriate” lobbying.

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Comapny’s response to the news

Cory Wheelabrator, the company awarded the contract to build and run the incinerator, said it was “extremely disappointed” by the latest development.

In a statement, the company said: “We are naturally extremely disappointed by the recommendations in this report, particularly as many years of hard work have gone into this project by the consortium and Norfolk County Council. We believed that the public inquiry would have provided a fair hearing for all parties and that a decision would be based on pure planning grounds. We, and the industry, have also made it clear to government that planning delays to major infrastructure projects are costly and can jeopardise them and this project looks set to become yet another example.

“The delay to that planning decision has resulted in considerable costs to all parties at a time when public funds are already stretched. The fact still remains that there is no firm solution for the long-term management of Norfolk’s waste.”

Asked whether the company would now pull out of Norfolk, a spokesman added: “We wont be issuing any further statements at the present time.”

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he had reported Mr Nobbs to a senior Whitehall official, claiming he had told him the council would spend more money in his constituency if he could speed up the decision over the King’s Lynn incinerator.

But Mr Nobbs dismissed the claim as “outrageous”, saying the timing of the matter being made public “smacked of desperation”.

Mr Lewis is under secretary of state in the Department for Communities and Local Government, under Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. The DCLG is overseen by permanent secretary Sir Bob Kerslake, a powerful civil servant.

Mr Nobbs, who is also the leader of the Labour group on the council, blamed Mr Pickles’s delay in reaching a decision over the controversial burner when it emerged on Monday that the plant was likely to be scrapped.

Norfolk-Suffolk waste link extended

An arrangement for Suffolk’s new incinerator to take waste from Norfolk could be extended after the decision to drop plans for an incinerator near Kings Lynn is confirmed.

Norfolk County Council has been at the centre of controversy for years over its plans to build the incinerator – and now officers have recommended the proposal is dropped.

We revealed in February that Suffolk was having talks about taking 30,000 tonnes of waste a year from Norfolk for a limited period once the incinerator – or energy from waste plant – starts operating at Great Blakenham later this year. Now it has emerged that this arrangement could be extended – although nothing firm has been decided.

Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee said: “I recognise the situation Norfolk are currently in and, as part of our Suffolk and Norfolk collaboration, I am keen to ensure that we can do what we can to assist them.

“Our energy from waste facility was built overwhelmingly for Suffolk’s waste, however, as

with any good planning, we

have built this with marginally more capacity than Suffolk’s needs.

“So it’s only our spare headroom that we can discuss with Norfolk and other potential customers who are expressing an interest.

“In light of the proposal to be considered by Norfolk’s cabinet... I’m sure there will be subsequent talks between ourselves and Norfolk.”

Mr Lewis said: “The last conversation I had with George Nobbs was when I reported him to the permanent secretary.

“You can’t have someone turn around to you and say if you speed up a decision I’ll spend more money in your constituency. It is completely inappropriate.

“I spoke to the permanent secretary who spoke to the chief exec at Norfolk County Council.

“Because it is Norfolk and I’m a Norfolk MP, I wouldn’t be involved because there is a conflict of interest and the government wouldn’t allow that.”

A spokesman for the DCLG confirmed Mr Lewis had spoken to the permanent secretary, adding: “Given that this is a live planning issue, it would be inapprpriate to comment further.”

But Mr Nobbs said: “I met Mr Lewis at a parliamentary reception on February 26 in company and thus well within the earshot of many others.

“Of course I was keen to stress to him what many, including the EDP, were also doing at the time - which was that Norfolk wanted a speedy decision from Mr Pickles in the hope that it could allow us to free up money that could be better spent on services for all Norfolk communities.

“At no time did I argue for a particular decision. I simply argued that a decision needed to be made one way or another – and Brandon Lewis knows that. I couldn’t resist pointing out that this would, of course, affect those in Great Yarmouth. As I recall it he and others around us laughed at the obvious dig at the time.

“Very recently and rather out of the blue, the Permanent Secretary did indeed call our acting MD to get her take on the local context. He said Mr Lewis had said he was being lobbied and wanted him to clarify that the planning decision was of course, a quasi judicial matter. He also spoke with me on the same lines in a perfectly equable manner.

“It is very odd that Mr Lewis should feel the need to make such a sensational claim at this precise time. It smacks of desperation.”

North-west Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: “It’s all very well George Nobbs saying it’s all Eric Pickles’s fault. He’s got to realise he got elected on a manifesto commitment to stop the thing.

“We could have saved £10 - £15m and could be well on the way to a new system for dealing with Norfolk’s waste.”

Mr Bellingham said it was important for politicians to move forward together in the interest of the county. He said he would need a formal request from the county council to pursue the possibility of government money being made available towards the break costs of the contract.

But Mr Nobbs said Mr Bellingham did not need his formal permission to seek financial assistance.

34 comments

  • They should also question the £8m that represent costs generated from the banks cancelling arrangements put in place to mitigate the risk of changes in foreign exchange and interest rates. £8m..???!!!! Seems like alot of money to close out a hedge...I would question the original hedging contract and whether due care was taken in achieving the best rate...this represents 27% of the overall penalty..!..

    Report this comment

    Scooby

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • For goodness sake No.bbs, swallow that arrogant pride (it won't leave that bad a taste) and do the decent thing to further support the people of Norfolk. Formally ask Hen.ry for HELP with the finance!!!!!

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Friday, April 4, 2014

  • This is simply Tory panic in a desperate attempt to deflect the blame that is rightly attached to their fateful decision to sign the contract for the incinerator with Cory.Should the contact now be cancelled,it is a vindication of those who put party political differences to one side and respected the view of the electorate by forming the very loose "rainbow" coalition to prevent the continuation of the Tory one-party state.One thing is for sure,the cancellation would have never taken place had the Tories been allowed to maintain their crypto-Stalinist iron-grip on power.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Alecto it will be good to catch up again see you there.

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • AndyT. GNobbs hasn't a clue about leadership. management or anything else. He is spiunning like a top completely disoriented.

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • The only people to have come out of this with any shred of credibility are Alex Kemp, the green cllrs, and UKIP. Bellingham also has also worked very hard for his constituents. Labour and Tories have shown themselves to be totally out of touch and frankly disrespectful to their electorate. I predict, unfortunately, a UKIP whitewash in almost all of the upcoming elections.

    Report this comment

    LynnLegend

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Fen, Mark Allen simply MUST be wrong after all Mon.son, who was the instigator of this farce and claims to know all the ins and outs, put it in writing only last week that Norfolk only has 2 years landfill capacity!!! lol, We know otherwise an FOI was reluctantly answered a couple of years ago giving the accurate figure and that is why Mark Allen, correctly, said decades. We know how many decades and we know that Mon.son hasn't got a clue!

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • AndyT. GNobbs hasn't a clue about leadership. management or anything else. He is spiunning like a top completely disoriented.

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • so...here we have it...a Leader who is an headless chicken, a Conservative group Leader who originally signed the contract now saying he isn't a lawyer, and beginning to distance himself from these proceedings, a bunch of Officers (who are all ACTING status) who are completely useless and have peddled far too much misinformation and actual lies to councillors...essentially they have misled the council. It is quite obvious that NCC is completely BROKEN......just watch all those who have been whipped in to supporting the incinerator over the last few months run a mile, and completely disassociate themselves from this week's announcement, seeking cover. I only hope their individual wards will show them no mercy....NCC - the laughing stock of Local Government in the whole of the country...shame on you

    Report this comment

    Scooby

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • George Nobb’s 10th September 2012 wrote a letter to the Lynn News insulting the burner by calling the poor thing “that infamous incinerator” instead of Efw plant. He criticised the previous administration for not calling in the incinerator for determination of the Secretary of state. This letter coincided with then Labour colleague Alexandra Kemp fighting the Clenchwarton by election. George Nobb’s turned Jekyll and Hyde as soon as he was made leader dumped his colleague Alex Kemp in the west of the county. Taking a leaf out of Tony Blairs book, scare tactics 45 minutes to war in Iraq or the county will be bankrupt if we do not sign up to the now infamous incinerator. WHY? Any ideas?

    Report this comment

    NCIS

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Scooby I think you are correct.

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • But don't you realise Canary Boy that we are one and the same person along with Fenscape? Still that means only one seat for all of us according to the weird named ones on this site.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • They never learn do they Can.ary. They forget Joe Public is watching and constantly catching them out. Another chapter to put in the book! See you Monday too.

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • my mistake

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • It's not "the timing of the matter being made public “smacked of desperation” it shows the desperate lengths GNobbs was prepared to lower himself to. Questions, why was he so desperate, what encouraged him to make such a dramatic u-turn, what else has he been up to, why did Gibson do nothing when the permanent secretary contacted her about it and why is he still Leader? At least we know why his purple drinkers' nose shone out on tv on Monday night.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • The comments below are pretty trite. Anyone who knows how NCCs finances work will know they had to put aside money to pay for the incinerator IF IT WENT AHEAD but also put aside money to cover the costs if it DID NOT GO AHEAD. These monies were in capital and revenue accounts so one could not be simply used for the purpose of the other. That is the kind of common sense financial planning the Labour led administration adopted unlike the previous Tory administration. It is therefore common sense that a decision either way would release one of the pots of money to spend elsewhere. Brandon Lewis knows his own seat is vulnerable in 2015 and is trying to distance himself from the shocking shenanigans of Eric Pickles. I'd suggest MPs are sometimes less competent than county councillors!!

    Report this comment

    Jonny

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • I'm surprised m.outhy Monsooon doesn't br.ag they are currently getting a good deal because CW offered to take it at Riverside for £128 tonne while the incinerator was being built.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • So much for "Move on now, please" (today's leader article). That has a whiff of the customary "Move along now ladies and gentlemen, perleeze. There's nothing to see" from traffic police as inquisitive crowds gather around the scene of a multiple RTA... 'Draw a line under', 'draw a line through', now 'Move on'. No. This story has run for nearly ten years. Norfolk council taxpayers have a right to know what went wrong, when, and how, and who is to be held responsible. And it is the publicly avowed mission of the EDP to do just that - hold local politicians and officials to account. So get on with it. Please and thank you.

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • The real question is,where do we go from here? Suffolk and Cambridgeshire treatment plants surely only have a small leeway for temporary help in taking some of our waste unless they uneconomically spent on over large facilities. What does Mr Nobbs have to say on that since Blackborough End landfill site will not run forever. We need to know plans C and D now.

    Report this comment

    bedoomed

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Alecto silly me of course there will only be one anti in the public gallery if you bel.ieve our favourite multiple poster. Where the Di.ckens has he gone?

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Friday, April 4, 2014

  • I think we can all ignore Mr Bee's kind offer. There are other incinerators who will take the rubbish for far less. And don't worry Gnobbs, I will bring needle and thread to the meeting next week to sew on that missing button. The sight of weedy chest must have been alarming you as much as it has us who have had to endure it since you became ersatz leader in May.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • Watson you can dress it up all you like, k.nobbs U turned yet again. Do you remember that Iron grip Labour had on this country and how they almost broke us. The Labour party are like headless chickens as we speak, who is in charge of the Labour party? Miliband or McClusky?

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • The signatories of the contract would have done so on the recomendation of the Officers. As they are not legally trained they would rely on Officers for many things. What has changed that once made something desirable, now very undesirable? The cancelled credits are a financial inconvenience but the need for an incinerator still remains. Why is Nobbs trying to re-write things?

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • 10th September 2012 wrote a letter to the Lynn News insulting the burner by calling the poor thing “that infamous incinerator” instead of Efw plant. He criticised the previous administration for not calling in the incinerator for determination of the Secretary of state. This letter coincided with then Labour colleague Alexandra Kemp fighting the Clenchwarton by election. George Nobb’s turned Jekyll and Hyde as soon as he was made leader dumped his colleague Alex Kemp in the west of the county. Taking a leaf out of Tony Blairs book, scare tactics 45 minutes to war in Iraq or the county will be bankrupt if we do not sign up to the now infamous incinerator. WHY? Any ideas?

    Report this comment

    NCIS

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • looks like the meeting on the 7th will be very well attended.!....everybody queuing up to see our glorious NCC leader do what he does best...!!

    Report this comment

    Scooby

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • This answers the question why George Nobb’s changed his views on the incinerator. Questions need to answered about leaders who manipulate behind closed doors similar to kevingate.

    Report this comment

    NCIS

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Jonny there was no money set aside, the whole thing was a mess. To be honest Common Sense and Labour words that are never linked together waste, broke and Labour are. I think its time for several people to resign including K.nobb and Borret, infact all the supporters

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Canary Boy. Am I right in thinking that Mr Nobbs was prepared to ask the government to consider reinstating the PFI grant? Doesn't that amount to asking for money?

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • I'm coming too.

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • Politics apart-how much longer do we have to put up with a Leader who STILL hasn't changed his shirt. Its time surely as the collar is looking filthy.

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Mr Wallis the PFI grant cannot be reinstated because the project will not qualify. It was removed because planning consent was not granted with contractural deadlines - the breach of terms and conditions- but also because defra realise that with current incinerators that are built or have all permissions and are under construction have the capacity to fullfil UK landfill diversion targets plus further facilities will result in overcapacity of incinerators to deal with UK waste when EU regulations concerning what we are allowed to incinerate come into full force, if memory serves, in 2020. The EU are banning the incineration of any item which it is possible to re use or recycle. Nobbs needs to go through the process of applying on behalf of the council for financial help Bellingham cannot either speak for or apply on behalf of NCC only the Leader or relevant official can speak as a representative of the council.

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • There was not money set aside when the Council narrowly agreed to go ahead with the incinerator. There was money set aside after NCC passed its budget in February 2014. Councillors prime responsibility is to the council tax payer, so the decisions made so far by this administration, are based on financial reasoning in a mire left by the Tories. It is sad that some correspondence in this debate simply have vindictive pops at politicians who, love them or loathe them we are all responsible for electing, rather than showing any wish to understand the facts the politicians make decisions upon. Are you all closet Anarchists?

    Report this comment

    Jonny

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • A good example of a pyramid sales scam! Councillors should ask for a full breakdown of machinery CW has purchased and sell on the open market. I expect CW has invested in a box of paper clips.

    Report this comment

    wattonlad

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • Andy T read the reports that will be presented to full council and cabinet Monday! The reason they now admit the proposal has to end is that from May 1st not only does the compensation cap rise by 5 million but every month a further 400,000 pounds is payable to compensate poor old CW.

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Thursday, April 3, 2014

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