Leader of Norfolk County Council on the move?
PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 March 2012 | UPDATED: 12:03 28 March 2012
The leader of Norfolk County Council has put his home near King’s Lynn up for sale, sparking accusations from anti-incinerator campaigners that he is looking to get out of the area ahead of a controversial plant being built.
Derrick Murphy is looking to sell his Watlington home, a few miles south of the incinerator the county council is hoping will be built at Saddlebow.
That led campaigners who have opposed the building of that plant, which Mr Murphy has championed as the answer to Norfolk’s waste problems, questioning the motivation behind him putting his home on the market.
With 65,000 voting against the incinerator in a poll organised by West Norfolk Council, they questioned whether Mr Murphy had one eye on his chances of re-election in next year’s county council elections.
But Mr Murphy, whose Freebridge Lynn division includes Castle Rising, Grimston, North Wootton, Roydon and South Wootton, said he was hoping to find a new home in West Norfolk and said he might yet stay put.
He said: “We have done a bit of work on the house and we are looking to upgrade in West Norfolk. The aim is if a house there turns up we will get it, but otherwise we won’t bother with moving from here.”
There has been speculation that Mr Murphy might be interested in standing somewhere in South Norfolk in next year’s county council elections.
But he said: “I have been offered seats all over the place. Although technically you could live in Outwell and represent Geldeston, I think it would be prudent to live in or near your division.
“We are talking months away and there’s a lot that could happen between now and then, so we will see how it pans out.”
However, Michael de Whalley, the campaigner who unsuccessfully sought a judicial review into the county council’s decision to award a contract for the incinerator to Anglo-US consortium Cory Wheelabrator, questioned Mr Murphy’s chances of re-election in the west of the county.
He said: “I don’t know if his possible move is personal or political, but I think he would find it difficult standing anywhere in West Norfolk.
“I suspect he rather likes his role as leader of Norfolk County Council, so one would have thought he would be looking to stand outside the area.”
The county council’s planning committee is expected to make a decision on the plant in the coming months, but critics have called for secretary of state Eric Pickles to call-in the issue.