December 13 2013 Latest news:
Joseph Watts, Political editor
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Conservatives in Norfolk have been exchanging blows after a Tory MP accused the county council of being “arrogant” and acting like “Communist party chiefs” in the former Soviet block.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham launched his attack in an interview with the Eastern Daily Press, arguing that the authority had not listened to public concern over plans to build an incinerator in his constituency.
Meanwhile Mr Bellingham slammed county council leader Derrick Murphy claiming he should have tried to defend the incinerator plans in his own electoral division, the site of the incinerator controversy, rather than seeking a new seat in the south.
But the MP’s broadside provoked an immediate reaction from Mr Murphy, who on hearing Mr Bellingham’s comments yesterday made a complaint about them to Conservative Campaign Headquarters in London.
County Hall’s plans to build an incinerator at Saddlebow, near King’s Lynn, have been opposed by a major public campaign which saw 65,000 people vote against the plant in a poll organised by West Norfolk council.
Since then the plans have been called in and will be the subject of a public inquiry starting in February, which will make a recommendation to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles on whether they should go ahead or not.
Mr Bellingham said: “The county council haven’t engaged with the public. They have been arrogant. It has been as if we’re a country back in the Soviet block, somewhere like Romania, where they told a village they would have to have some sort of chemical works next to them and no one got a say.
“They have behaved like regional Communist party chiefs in places like Romania and Hungary before the collapse of the iron curtain.”
The EDP has already reported how Mr Murphy will not be fighting next year’s council elections in his current seat but will instead stand in Forehoe Ward.
Mr Bellingham said: “He would have earned a great deal of respect from local people if he had said ‘you may not agree with me but I think it’s the right thing to do and I will stand up for it’”
The Tory MP left his job on the government front bench in the recent reshuffle and says he is now less constrained in what he can say in the House of Commons.
As a result he is now planning a parliamentary campaign to lobby against the incinerator including calling debates, asking questions to the prime minister and pressuring other ministers.
But Mr Murphy hit back pointing out that two court challenges to the incinerator plans had failed, saying: “Does he think high court judges are Communists too?”
He went on: “Poor old Henry. This sort of intemperate language demeans him more than anyone else. When people engage in personal abuse it means they have lost or don’t have an argument. I think his comments will come back to haunt him.”
He also said that he had no choice but to seek a new council seat after being informed that he would definitely not be re-selected to fight for his current seat in the Freebridge Lynn division.