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Norfolk MPs urged to help get government cash to stop incinerator compensation bill hitting services

PUBLISHED: 15:02 08 April 2014 | UPDATED: 15:02 08 April 2014

An artist's impression of Cory Wheelabrator's proposed incinerator. The county council has terminated its contract with the company.

An artist's impression of Cory Wheelabrator's proposed incinerator. The county council has terminated its contract with the company.

Archant

Norfolk’s MPs have been urged by the leader of Norfolk County Council to get the government to help cover the multi-million compensation bill which will be created by axing the incinerator.

George Nobbs, Labour leader of the council has written to North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham and South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss to ask that they will take action to stave off further “painful cuts” to services.

Mr Bellingham had previously said he would mobilise the county’s MPs to seek help, if the county council were to make a formal request.

And Mr Nobbs has now done so, sending a copy of his letter to Mr Bellingham and Ms Trusst to other MPs in the county. He urges them to convince the government to part with a grant to cover the £30m compensation cost the authority is likely to have to pay Cory Wheelabrator for terminating the contract for the Saddlebow burner.
Mr Nobbs write to the MPs: “Over the course of this saga, you have suggested on a number of occasions that the government may help to mitigate the financial impact of a contract termination on Norfolk’s public services.

“I am now asking formally, on behalf of the people of Norfolk, that you make the necessary contacts at government to make this a reality.

“I have copied in to this letter all Norfolk’s MPs who may, I hope, be willing to act in concert with you on this matter to secure additional funding that may avoid the authority having to make further painful cuts to front line services.

“We ask that support should come in the form of a grant - not borrowing approval - given that the authority is already facing significant reductions in revenue income.
“Adding to the burden of debt for future generations should not be an option in these very difficult circumstances.”

Mr Nobbs, who has previously accused MPs of lobbying the government to get the waste credits for the plant cancelled, added that: “It is a matter of fact that the removal of a government grant worth £169m for the Saddlebow project and the continuing delaying in determining the planning application has resulted in the project’s value for money, compared to the costs of landfill, declining to the point where we have had no real choice but to make the decision we made.”

Councillors voted by 48 votes to 30 to terminate the contract at an extraordinary meeting yesterday – a decision which was then rubber stamped by the controlling Labour/Liberal Democrat cabinet.

The council will now have to make £8m worth of further savings to cover the likely £30m compensation cost to Cory Wheelabrator, having set aside £19m in its budget and finding £3m from underspends.

The £30m compensation bill consists of capped compensation to Cory Wheelabrator of £20.3m, contractor public inquiry costs of £1.6m and exchange rate and interest rate related costs of £8.36m.

The council had already spent £3.5m procuring the contract and £2m to buy the site at Saddlebow. That means taxpayers will pay £35m in total with only a derelict site to show for it.

Council officers are now drawing up proposals for where the £8m of extra savings could be made and will report to the cabinet when it meets on May 12.

In his letter to the MPs, Mr Nobbs said: “Time is short. I therefore look forward to hearing from you as a matter of some urgency, of what, if any assistance can be secured.”

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