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Norfolk County Council lifts funding ‘threat’ over King’s Lynn and Thetford regeneration schemes

Derrick Murphy, leader of Norfolk County Council.

Derrick Murphy, leader of Norfolk County Council.

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Norfolk County Council leaders have lifted what was interpreted by MPs as an ‘implied threat’ that £2m of funding for major regeneration projects in King’s Lynn and Thetford would be with-held.

Conservative-controlled County Hall has unveiled its budget plans for the coming 12 months and revealed that funding will be handed over for the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area (NORA) and Thetford regeneration programmes.

That announcement lifts uncertainty over the county council’s funding for those schemes, which was sparked after deputy leader Ian Mackie wrote a letter to the county’s MPs warning them a failure to secure PFI credits for the Saddlebow incinerator could hit funding for such schemes.

He said in that letter the council would have to “pause” investment of £1m in each of those two projects, which were in the patches of North West and South West Norfolk MPs Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss, who have both campaigned against the incinerator.

All seven MPs had signed a formal letter of complaint over that letter, which was referred to the authorities of the House of Commons on the grounds there was an “implied threat” to them in their work and that it could constitute a breach of parliamentary privilege.

While it is understood the letter did not breach the rules, council leader Derrick Murphy, in his budget announcement makes clear the county council cash for the schemes will be released, even if the PFI credits are not granted.

Mr Murphy said: “What we looked at is whether we were able, come what may, to fund those schemes. Clearly, we are always looking at financial data to see what we can do.”

The NORA scheme would see 155 new homes built in King’s Lynn as part of a joint venture with West Norfolk Council.

The Thetford regeneration scheme would see new life breathed into the town. The council agreed in November to contribute £1m to regenerating the riverside area, where proposals include a hotel, shops, cinema and a training restaurant providing opportunities for careers in catering for young people.

The county council’s budget plans for the next 12 months also include funding for a new fire station on the A149 bypass at King’s Lynn.

Mr Murphy said a second fire station was needed which would have easy access to the west of the county.

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