Waste row West Norfolk councillors ‘should resign’

Cllr Paul Foster and (R) Cllr Michael Pitcher have resigned form the Conservative group at West Norf

Cllr Paul Foster and (R) Cllr Michael Pitcher have resigned form the Conservative group at West Norfolk Borough Council over the incinerator plans. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Two councillors who resigned in protest at claims west Norfolk's waste could be sent to neighbouring counties to be incinerated have rebuffed a suggestion that they should resign their seats and stand for re-election.

West Norfolk council leader Nick Daubney said Paul Foster and Mike Pitcher should stand down after they dramatically crossed the floor from the ruling Conservative group to sit as independents.

After they quit over thywe council's signing of the Norfolk Waste Partnership (NWP), which extends the types of rubbish which can be recycled in people's homes and would mean more waste being re-used, Mr Daubney said: 'If you stand on one ticket and change mid-term, I think you should go back to the public.'

However Mr Foster, who was treasurer of the North-West Norfolk Conservative Association until he stood down, said: 'I was elected on the basis of my strong views against the incinerator. It is the Conservative group's views that have changed, not my own.'

He said he would be 'quite prepared to fight a by-election – but only if Nick Daubney does the same'.

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Mr Daubney said the NWP contract, which the council has voted in favour of, did not definitely prohibit incineration – but did state that the burning of any material must be discouraged and that all parties involved should seek to avoid it.

However some waste which cannot be recycled would be sent to a cement kiln in Lincolnshire.

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Mr Foster said this was 'hypocritical', as the council has opposed a separate bid to build an incinerator in Saddlebow.

He told his Tory colleagues before last week's crunch council meeting to vote on the issue: 'I cannot as a matter of principle and conscience vote to allow waste to be unnecessarily burnt in a neighbouring county.

Mr Pitcher, a former West Norfolk mayor who represents Grimston ward, said: 'I think a lot of people who have crossed the floor in the past have stayed as councillors and worked very well.

'Ever since 2007 I have worked hard for people of my ward and I can still be effective as an independent.

'I haven't crossed the floor to an opposition party and I have not lost my Conservative principles. It is the leadership that I cannot support.'

Mr Daubney said the resignations had been 'the culmination of a long-running argument' but said he believed his strategy of how to deal with waste in the borough is the right one.

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