'Why stab us in the back?' - Council leader quizzed on incinerator plans

Claps for Carers at the Borough Council depot on Hardwick Narrows. Public open space and waste teams

Conservative council leader Stuart Dark (centre), was accused of "stabbing" his borough council "in the back" over controversial plans for a new incinerator in Wisbech. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A Norfolk council leader has been accused of stabbing his borough council in the back over controversial plans for an incinerator.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk borough council leader Stuart Dark voted in February to oppose in principle an incinerator in Wisbech, only to then abstain at Norfolk County Council when a similar motion was proposed in September.

At a meeting of the borough council on Thursday, independent councillor Alun ‘Tom’ Ryves quizzed Mr Dark about his abstention, saying: “I want to enquire, why did you stab this council in the back, at county council?

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Councillor Alun 'Tom' Ryves asked Mr Dark why he had "stabbed" the borough council "in the back". - Credit: Sarah Hussain

“Can I ask, what changed?”

Mr Dark responded: “You need to look at the specifics of the motion and the timing of the motion.”

He said the county council had agreed it was too early to take a decision on the incinerator, because a planning application had not yet been submitted for it.”

He added that county council leader Andrew Proctor had given assurances in that meeting that the views of the people of west Norfolk would be taken into account at that time.

“The county’s position was that we will respond or that officers would respond through the administration at the appropriate time,” said Mr Dark. 

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“So I felt, and it wasn’t different to my position around this here, that the appropriate thing to do at that moment, around that motion, was to wait, see whether the administration is true to its word and take the views of the west into account.” 

Independent councillor Alexandra Kemp said the county council need “to act quickly and stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder with Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and of course ourselves, because when you see trouble looming down the hill, you don’t wait for it to come and roll over you, you just jump out of the way.”

County councillor Alexandra Kemp. Picture: Ian Burt

Councillor Alexandra Kemp compared the need to act against the incinerator as one would against "trouble looming down the hill". - Credit: Ian Burt

She asked Mr Dark how he would “persuade the county cabinet that they should be voting with us, not against us?”

Mr Dark replied: “The fact of the matter is, I will be doing everything I can to make the administration at the county do what they said they were going to... that they will take the views of the west into account.

“Now, we have been quite clear, and I think our residents have been quite clear what the views of the west are.”

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