Independent inquiry ordered into incinerator proposed for Norfolk

The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt. The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt.

Monday, April 14, 2014
12:11 PM

An independent inquiry has been ordered into the process surrounding the incinerator proposed for Norfolk.

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Norfolk County Council last week voted, by 48 votes to 30 to terminate the contract with Cory Wheelabrator to build and run the plant at Saddlebow.

And at a meeting of the council’s controlling Labour/Liberal Democrat cabinet today, council leader George Nobbs revealed he had asked for an inquiry.

The inquiry will be conducted by the council’s independent chairman of the standards board, Stephen Revell.

It will look at three issues:

1. How and why the council got into the situation in the first place.

2. How and why the council reached the decision to terminate.

3. What the effect was of outside political involvement in helping or hindering the fulfilment of the contract.

Mr Nobbs said he hoped Mr Revell would take as his starting point the previous QC report into the officers’ conduct and the PriceWaterhouseCooper report into the contract.

Mr Nobbs said: “As we well know there have been many calls for a public inquiry.

“It is not in my power to order one, as that is a matter for the prime minister.

“If he did so, that would take months or years and cost millions, but that is a matter for him.

“But I do accept the public is entitled to further answers about the whole process.

“This has resulted in a bill of £30m the taxpayers will have to pay.”

He said the inquiry would focus on the political process and Mr Revell would report back to the council’s head of paid services, rather than to a politician.

38 comments

  • maryjane, whats the chance that a Dairy farmer reads and understands the 'contract'. He is sincere in his believes and might have the energy, but he knows everyone and everyone thinks he's a nice bloke and he ignored vital facts, he's too much of an insider. Lets hear it from his lips that NCC must conduct a senior management review for anything to change.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • Honest John. Have you tried changing your password?

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    democrat

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • Another phoney posting under my name Democrat. Interesting that an imposter sees a need to counter my posts.

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    Honest John

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • I heard Mr Revell on the radio this morning and he sounded a very sincere and well-meaning person. May I just ask whether he will in his limited remit be able to demand to see the Contract? - a vital bit of the jigsaw. Will he be able to instruct Ms McNeill to release all the documentation that has accumulated over the past several years so that he can investigate the procedures followed by the officers handling the case? Will he be able to look into the investigations which should have been made regarding Cory Wheelabrators suitablity? He has already sadly failed on the first count - the ability to interview DM who admitted today that he will not cooperate. Good luck Mr Revell, sadly only half the story will ever be told.

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    maryjane

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • How can ex cllr. Murphy exclude himself from the investigation before it has started? who are 'some' who question the cost of such inquiry? who see nothing wrong with wasting 35 million and want to paint over the massive cracks at County Hall, to the building, the functioning within not to speak of moral? Who would not want to learn from this debacle and do it nall over again tommorrow? Stephen Revell failed to spot that Cllr. Murphy told the QC that he did not send that dodgy email, when Kevin Vaughan clearly stated that Mr. Murphy actually pushed the send button himself. Mr. Revell is too close to NCC and his record of getting to the problem is not good.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • Rule no 1 in the law world. If an investigation of a firm is to take place possibly with a view of suing for negligence then you do not choose another firm in the same area. The same applies here. You do not ask a Norfolk dairy farmer who used to be a Lib Dem Councillor to investigate other councillors with whom he is probably on first name terms. How anyone can think this is suitable is beyond me.

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    alecto

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • The questions as posed by NCC's council leader are inconsequential as they do not address the fact that three of the relevant cllrs. making this decision to sign, are still pretending that 35 million of losses in money and servicers were worth a gamble. So did officers. How do Cllr. Nobbs questions possibly get to the bottom of this, Why did we spent 4 million on consultants who got it wrong, can we get this money back under 'false promises or pretences'? This sort of waste of resources, which really belong to us and should be dealt with appropriately, must never happen again, even if Carter added 10 million on to the bill for refurbishing county hall...

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • For once I disagree with you Honest John. Many of those councillors intimately involved with the failed incinerator plan would probably do quite well "in a professional commercial environment". It`s how corporations work. No-one knows the real truth, sleight of hand etc. However, we are talking here about a county council which is funded by Norfolk taxpayers and their behaviour has been totally unacceptable.

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    democrat

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • When I saw that John Martin thinks it will be too difficult, I realised that it must, in fact, be quite easy. I doubt Revell will be able to demand MPs' and Ministers' correspondence, so he will be left with what he can glean from NCC's files, voluntary interviews and partisan observers. Here's a preview of his report: 1. NCC needed a rubbish plan and concluded that the CW incinerator, supported by a big wedge of central government money was a good idea. QC's review in accord. 2. NCC, under new management, lost its bottle when LabLib councillors were accused of ratting on their manifesto pledges and decided to use Pickles' delayed planning decision to back out. Trouble is, Pickles will end up saying that the planning was fine, so no need to back out. 3. Massive Labour core vote pressure has caused Labour decision makers to buckle and they told senior officers who will shortly be looking for job references to change their recommendations. There: job done - £25,000, please.

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    Jack1956

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • More taxpayers money on top of the £30 million that we've already had wasted for us by people more interested in playing politics with each other than their public responsibilities. Don't they get that most of Norfolk people can ill afford this unnecessary financial pain that has and will achieve zero? A large number of so - called politicians in this county regardless of the level that they represent or their party allegiance have got us into this mess and made our county a laughing stock. Many wouldn't survive in a professional commercial environment. Shameful waste of money and resource over a number of years. They should stop any further waste of money immediately be it on enquiries or whatever else they may dream up.

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    Honest John

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Aha, here's our pal D.icky again - how was the bottle of Dom you were keeping for the victory you never won? Sour I hope! Keep running interference on this story because.... well, I won't spoil the surprise but it'll take more than your sad little letter to various councillors to get your own way now. Should have used your real name instead of another alias old chum - it's out of local hands once and for all.

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    Fenscape

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • I say what a lark. After all the pestering by this odd campaign look where we are. The council get nothing, the tax payers shell out over £30,000,000 as a gift to the developers and they still go ahead anyway. The anti brigade appear to have fallen at the last fence. Tally ho!!

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    Sir Montague Baden-Philips

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Cory still going ahead. Will buy the site for knock down price and use £35 million tax payers money to fund the start. Council also lose the contract and will have to pay top whack to use the site. All thanks to the campaigners. Who's side they on ?

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    Rastus Obinga-Odinga

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • The remit of the last investigation was narrowed down by officers to keep them in the clear and now the GNobb is doing the same again. When is he going to get it into his head the people aren't stupid to what has been going on and what is continuing. The officers are to blame for choosing incineration, the officers are to blame for putting forward CW, the officers are to blame for choosing Saddlebow because of Palm Paper in 2007, and the officers are to blame for making that the only acceptable site in Norfolk. Cabinet were bought onside, Cabinet Scrutiny did nothing, and both Labour and Conservative councillors sat idly by and let it all happen. Throughout the whole episode McNeill has covered it all up.

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    Honest John

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • There will not be an 'independent' inquiry. There might be some old tosh written up by a few councillors and the Officers. As for the incinerator it is going ahead. Without a contract with the council - that's all. It is the silly campaigners that "think it's all over". In fact it has just begun.

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    Del Boy

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • So k.nobbs is going to try and make himself look like a hero and then he will tell everybody how Labour saved the day. Total rubbish, it should be someone from an independent body who looks at this, nothing to do with NCC what's so ever. The whole started as a sick joke and it's not getting any better

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    Sweet cheeks

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • No Peter -however, a disolution of council followed by a period in 'measures' would solve a lot of problems and make a fresh start.

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    maryjane

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Unfortunately people, politicians are looking totally in the wrong direction. Yes political errors where made; but these and the politicians fade into lesser significance to the technology choice for incineration by the reccommendations of 3-4 key waste officers, and the advicetechnology neutral options (advice from waste consultants, waste companies and Defra) they presented to non technical politicians. A different technology, this mess and expense would not have occurred. Indeed Norfolk would likely to have, like Lancashire, some acceptable, non combustion waste infrastructure in place. Simply officers should not have procured EfW incineration technology, with the planning risks, local oppostion and contract breakage figures high. Officers should not have even offered incineration to the politicians.

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    Rob Whittle

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • There's not a lot of experience in UK local government of such a collection of parties in loose association rather than coalition but they have managed by working together to set a legal budget,a fundamental requirement and a decision largely welcomed by the public on the Lynn incinerator.Those who want to "put this issue to bed and move on" will be sadly disappointed.We council tax payers will be paying for it for years making the alternative of a return to a Tory administration at all costs.Do you want to give the keys back to those who crashed the car?

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    Peter Watson

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • With the election of a new leader next month the GNobb has ordered this in case the Con men get in and sweep in under the carpet or someone decent is elected and includes the GNobb's own part in it. Same as rushing through Coltishall planning before a decent leader is elected who will put an end to the madness or perhaps before English Heritage have had the runway listed. This man is Murphy's pu.ppet and has done even more damage to widen the rift.

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    Honest John

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • @democrat.I agree that "dark" reasons may well have affected this,the area which comes to mind,is the impact of freemasonry on Norfolk politics.There is an area some "light" needs to be shone.It has been the blight of Norfolk politics.

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    Peter Watson

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • The National Audit Office investigation looks like having been kicked into the same long grass as Pickles kicked the incinerator planning permission decision.Perhaps,the intention is to try to cover a few backs before the smelly stuff hits the fan.

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    Peter Watson

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Revell is a dairy farmer? Oh dear. I have spoken to assorted solicitors who have said they would not take this on. It needs someone above their pay grade. So Gnobbs chooses a dairy farmer. And there have been complaints about this Revell's handling of certain matters to date which I am sure will come out. What will have to happen is the Council will have to instruct another barrister and furthermore one from a distance. Whatever Gnobbs does he does tend to get it wrong everytime but having seen the quality of his cabinet I am not surprised.

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    alecto

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Ah, nice to see you back D. Remember the 1966 World Cup quote - "they think it`s all over" and the words that follow?

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    democrat

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • I am afraid that sitting on a local authority's standards committee, and deciding whether a member has broken the conduct rules, is a very different kettle of fish from carrying out an investigation into how and why NCC entered into an extremely complex procurement contract to the value of £600m. This is the reason why, for the earlier investigation, not any old criminal QC, tax QC or family law QC was chosen but a QC with particular experience in the procurement field was. And like it or not, it takes someone of that calibre to be able to marshall the facts, identify the ones with relevance and reach a reasoned conclusion based on them. The report prepared by Jonathan Acton Davis QC ran to over sixty pages, and he received countless submissions from various interested parties. With the best will in the world, it is hard to see how Mr Revell is qualified. And then you have his lengthy association with NCC. That will render him unacceptable in the eyes of many members of the public.

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    John Martin

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Excellent, soon we can have an enquiry about an enquiry !! Lets waste more tax payers money. Everyone is already arguing about the validity of the enquiry so no doubt this will now rumble on for years and years as well. Put the bloody thing to bed and move on. Lets face it its been a balls up from start to finish

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    norfolkblue

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • The incinerator is still being built anyway so why look into it ? All that has changed is that NCC lost a lucrative contract.

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    Del Boy

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • This is just not good enough. NCC have gambled with rate-payers money and we want to know how and why this has been possible. Having an internal inquiry by a member of NCC cannot possibly be termed as 'impartial'. Even if Mr. Revell carries out an honest inquiry process, the public are not going to believe there are not 'favours' involved.

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    disolushund

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • I agree, Stephen Revell will do a good job and not pull his punches. Whether all this is necessary is another matter apart from Tory blood letting over their own actions, the rest of us should move on.

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    Jonny

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • I am sure that Mr Revell - who actually isn't chairman of the NCC Standards Committee - is an honest and impartial man. But is he appropriately qualified for an assignment like this? Does he have the necessary technical competence? By background, he is a dairy farmer. Bear in mind that he will be following in the footsteps of (a) a well-recognised QC and (b) an international accountancy firm. I question whether the public would ever have confidence in his findings. Furthermore, he is known to many of the players on the stage. How would that appear in terms of public perception, despite his undoubted impartiality? This strikes me as a major blunder on the NCC Cabinet's part.

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    Nemesis

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Bedoomed, let's hope it won't cost a lot and we can put this to bed and move on. . If it suffers too much mission creep, then the lawyers and accountants and external consultant's will be brought on board because no one in the NCC will be judged to have the capacity to handle it properly and then the only winners would be the lawyers and accountants and external consultant's - as has been the case all throughout this whole sorry episode.

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    BernardJuby

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Stephen Revell has an independent mind and years of experience on Standards Boards and in local politics. It won't be an easy task , but he'll do his best without fear or favour. And it won't cost a lot either in my opinion to put this to bed and move on.

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    bedoomed

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • How dare Nobbs use the people of Norfolk's money to carry out another sham of an investigation, this time for political ends!

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    Honest John

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Of course the decision cant be overturned. Stop being a Nigel Nigel. This is to discover who and why we ended up in this sorry situation when an educationally challenged Chihuahua could have handled it better.

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    alecto

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Does Nobbs really want a truely independent inquiry or is it merely an attempt to blame someone else. Yes, it was the old Tory controlled county council that started off this farce. Why, I`m not sure, but I fear that there may be `dark` reasons. However, there was an opportunity to cancel it, but, unfortunately this wasn`t taken. The `rainbow` cabinet blamed the cost of cancellation, which they implied, could not be afforded, and indeed might make Norfolk CC bankrupt. Estimates of the cost of cancellation went as far as £160 million over time. There was an attempt to fool the public but it backfired and now few politicians at County Hall are respected. As one famous poster on here delighted in stating, `politics is a dirty business`, but when the public (we stump up the dosh) are at best misled then there has to be an independent inquiry and not by anyone associated with Norfolk. We must ensure something similar does not happen again.

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    democrat

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Just another talking shop, where nothing will be done and the purportrators who are responsible for this fiasco will not be brought to book.

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    "V"

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Does this inquiry have to power to overturn the decision so it's back on again? If so I look forwards to the next round of accusations and NIMBY-isms.

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    NigelS

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • A classic case of democracy being ignored, the whole thing was and still is quite comical... Great inspiration for comical film writers though! You can't write it! Unbelievable

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    Dave01

    Monday, April 14, 2014

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

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