Bid to re-open King’s Lynn incinerator inquiry defeated by one vote

Willows Business Park Saddlebow, King's Lynn

Land in the foreground is the proposed site for the incinerator ENGANL00120131018141847

Willows Business Park Saddlebow, King's Lynn Land in the foreground is the proposed site for the incinerator ENGANL00120131018141847

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A bid to re-open an inquiry into the controversial Lynn incinerator proposal has been defeated by a single vote.

Opponents of the controversial Saddlebow scheme have accused councillors of putting political interests before those of the public.

But a senior West Norfolk representative, who voted against the probe being completed, said people “should not be in politics” if they had not learned from the experience.

A motion calling for senior officials to ask the Local Government Association to appoint an investigator to carry out the inquiry, was defeated by 37 votes to 36 at a Norfolk County Council meeting on Monday.

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham described the vote as “a great pity”.

Michael de Whalley, founder of King’s Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN), said he was worried a similar proposal could be revived if the Conservative group wins next year’s council elections and urged residents to “vote accordingly.”

He said: “It appears as though a minority Conservative administration wants to sweep the previous Conservative council’s failings under the carpet. So much for transparency.”

John Martin said of the vote: “It saw political interest put far ahead of public interest in a most blatant manner in County Hall.”

And independent councillor Alexandra Kemp suggested councillors who wanted the inquiry completed should now take on the task themselves.

But West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long, who represents the Fincham division at County Hall and was one of the councillors who voted against the motion, said the lessons to be drawn from the project were already clear.

He said: “If people haven’t learnt those lessons, they really shouldn’t be involved in politics. I personally have learnt the lessons and I will make sure the mistakes aren’t repeated.”

He also argued there was little to be gained from continuing the inquiry, because the council does not have the power to force people involved in the project to give evidence.

He said: “We could spend a lot of time and money and get no further forward.”

Former councillor Stephen Revell was appointed to conduct an inquiry into the county council’s handling of the scheme, shortly after the contract to build the plant was terminated in the spring of 2014.

However, he withdrew from the process in June, warning that any report he produced risked being perceived as biased, because of a lack of co-operation.

Council leader Cliff Jordan called at the time for the debate to move on to how the county deals with its waste in future.

But campaigners maintain the probe should be completed and those who refused to take part should be named.