Council wants to end meetings with Bayer

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Moves to mothball a committee promoting links with a Norfolk chemical firm have sparked a hostile reaction among policymakers. Norwich City Council wants to discontinue meetings between public bodies and the Bayer Crop Science firm in Sweet Briar Road, because of lack of issues to discuss.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Moves to mothball a committee promoting links with a Norfolk chemical firm have sparked a hostile reaction among policymakers.

Norwich City Council wants to discontinue meetings between public bodies and the Bayer Crop Science firm in Sweet Briar Road, because of lack of issues to discuss.

City Hall said the liaison committee made up of councillors from Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk, union officials, the health and safety executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency, were increasingly pointless.

The last meeting was held in January 2004, while a session scheduled for July that year was scrapped because there was nothing to discuss.

But the move has sparked opposition from Broadland councillors who believe a formal link should be maintained.

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The council is urging the city to reconvene the meetings - which should be held every six months.

Shelagh Gurney, district and county councillor for Hellesdon, said: "The smells aren't the significant issue, it's what would happen if there was an emergency.

"Residents in the area need to be kept up to date with what's happening. It's vitally important the committee should meet. We should have an input."

The committee was set up in response to complaints about smells and noise when the site was run by May Baker, but continued to meet as ownership transferred to Phone Poulenc, Aventis and now Bayer.

Clive Rainbird, spokesman for Bayer Life Sciences, said the firm was keen

to keep talking.

"We are committed to dialogue. If that committee wished to reconvene, we would be happy to be part of it," he said. "We continue to hold twice-yearly meetings with our immediate neighbours and, as far as we are concerned, we are more than happy for that group to continue meeting as well.

Mike Stephenson, regulatory services manager at the city council, said many of the earlier problems had been resolved.

"As the years have passed, those concerns have diminished, leading to those meetings occurring less regularly," he said. "There have now been no meetings since 2004 and there are currently no ongoing matters. For this reason it is the council's view that this committee should only meet if needed. However, we would be happy to reinstate these meetings if the need arose."