Report chair slams “scandalous” government decision on King’s Lynn incinerator
- Credit: PA
Taxpayers have been left in the lurch after the government's 'scandalous' move to pull out of a deal to help the county build an incinerator, an influential group of MPs has found.
In a damning report out today, the cross-party spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, has said central government should not have agreed to provide credits for the King's Lynn project when it had reservations about its timetable, and was highly critical of its decision to then pull out leaving the council with a large compensation bill.
Margaret Hodge MP said: 'It's scandalous that taxpayers in Norfolk have been left in the lurch and landed with a bill of around £33.7million because the department withdrew its funding for the Norfolk waste plant in October 2013. This decision was a contributing factor to the council's decision to cancel the contract the following year.
'The department judged that the Norfolk plant was no longer needed to meet the 2020 EU landfill target, and yet it was fully aware of the likely compensation costs that would be incurred when it decided to withdraw funding.'
The report calls for the government to give local authorities better advice on negotiating PFI contracts.
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Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs, a Labour politician, said the conclusions of the report were ones which he had come to a long time ago.
'It is a salutary lesson about councils putting their faith into undertakings by the government. I do not get much satisfaction from the report, it (the incinerator plan) has caused so much heartache and cost money which could be better spent on something worthwhile.
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'But I am pleased they are agreeing with us.'
North-West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, who was a strong campaigner against the incinerator, said that the report reinforced the view that the government should have been much clearer with the council about what was in the contract, but said there had been failures on both the government and council sides.
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