Norfolk county councillors did nothing wrong in King’s Lynn incinerator decision

Campaigner calls for internal investigation result to be reviewed

An internal investigation at Norfolk County Council has concluded that Conservative councillors did nothing wrong in the process of approving a contractor for the proposed incinerator on the outskirts of King's Lynn.

But campaigner John Martin is calling for the decision to be reviewed. He had made two complaints to the council relating to the decision process of awarding the contract to Cory Wheelabrator.

Both were looked at by the council's standards assessment sub-committee and rejected.

But the committee's decision can be reviewed and Mr Martin has requested that this takes place.

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He alleged that council leader Derrick Murphy had breached the authority's constitution by conducting a cabinet meeting on March 7 to formally approve the contract, while knowing that a Conservative group meeting had already effectively backed the plan three days earlier.

He also claimed that Conservative members who sat on the cabinet scrutiny committee on April 19 had breached the code of conduct by not declaring a prejudicial interest, because they had been at the earlier group meeting.

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The three-member assessment sub-committee said, in a report of its findings, that the councillors did not appear to have a prejudicial interest in the committee's business.

It also concluded that Mr Murphy's conduct did not warrant further investigation.

The committee's report added that 'Public confidence in NCC's decision-making would benefit from an acknowledgement from the leader and cabinet members about the importance of taking decisions in an open and transparent way.

'The monitoring officer was asked to request a meeting between the chairman of standards and the cabinet to discuss these issues.'

Mr Martin, of Great Witchingham, near Norwich, received notification of the sub-committee's findings in a letter late last week.

He said yesterday that he would be pursuing the matter as he felt there was cause for further investigation into his complaints.'

'The decision to award the contract was, in reality, taken at the Tory group meeting on March 4,' he said.

The county's subsequent cabinet scrutiny committee meeting on April 19 saw three separate pleas to have the matter looked into again.

The issue of siting an energy from waste plant on The Willows industrial estate, Saddlebow, has caused a public outcry.

Campaigners are seeking a judicial review of the process and West Norfolk Council has also set aside money for a legal fight to try and prevent the plant being built.

The incinerator scheme could be backed by �169m of government cash through a Private Finance Initiative to help offset the �500m or more cost of the entire project.

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