Incinerator motions ‘supressed’ after legal warning

The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt.

The proposed incinerator site at Saddlebow. Picture: Ian Burt. - Credit: IAN BURT

A campaigner against the proposed incinerator at King's Lynn has accused the council of 'suppressing' his attempts to get the authority to talk about key issues around the controversial plant.

The council's head of law had warned councillors that debating the motions put forward to the full meeting of the county council could increase the risk of Cory Wheelabrator - which has been awarded a contract to run the plant at Saddlebow - suing the authority.

The motions were put forward by John Dobson, Conservative county councillor for Dersingham and focused on the wording of a previous motion, the need for councillors to be able to see confidential parts of the contract for the plant and for a special meeting to be held to allow councillors to get questions about the plant answered.

Last month, with the council set to debate whether to scrap the contract for the £596m plant, councillors instead agreed it was 'premature' to make a decision on pulling out, with an independent review into the contracts due to take place and the secretary of state yet to make a decision on whether to give the plant planning permission.

However, Mr Dobson presented his motions, arguing they were procedural matters, so should be discussed despite that previous motion.

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But Victoria McNeill, head of law, said the more the incinerator issue was discussed the more risk it was likely to expose the council to in terms of Cory Wheelabrator suing the council, should the authority decide to pull the contract.

Hilary Cox, chairman of the council, decided the three motions would not be discussed, while a fourth incinerator-related motion from UKIP group leader Toby Coke was also not debated.

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Councillors, concerned at the risks Ms McNeill had outlined, voted by 50 votes to 25, with four abstentions, to move on to the next business, rather than debate it. Afterwards, Mr Dobson said sophistry had been used to suppress his motions. He said: 'It's another kick in the teeth for the people of West Norfolk.'

And Liberal Democrat Tim East, who had seconded the motions, said: 'Democracy has lost out to a combination of pantomime and charade. The motions were about process, they were not a discussion around whether or not to terminate the contract. Through machiavellian machinations the majority of councillors conspired to suppress debate.'

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