A West Norfolk councillor has today, Thursday February 27, resigned from the ruling coalition of Norfolk County Council, accusing its leadership of bullying her over the proposed Lynn incinerator.
Alexandra Kemp, whose Clenchwarton and Lynn South division includes the site of the controversial Saddlebow project, revealed her decision to quit the authority’s Labour group this afternoon.
She will now sit as one of two independent councillors, alongside Hunstanton’s Richard Bird.
Speaking exclusively to the Lynn News, Miss Kemp said she felt the Labour group had “lost its way” and accused its leadership of betraying voters by not keeping its election promises over the incinerator.
She said: “I feel I have got to make a clear break.”
The news of her decision emerged just days after the administration committed itself to having a second debate and vote on whether to continue with the incinerator project, as part of the negotiations which saw its budget for the coming financial year narrowly approved.
Although she intends to remain a member of the Labour party, Miss Kemp said that standing up for the concerns of the people who elected her was more important to her than party loyalty.
She said: “People have said to me, ‘We’ve never voted Labour but we voted for you because we know you will fight for us.’”
Miss Kemp was first elected in September 2012, when she won a by-election called after the death of her predecessor, David Harwood. She then held the seat with a majority of just over 300 votes at the county elections last May, when the council went into no overall control and a Labour and Liberal Democrat-led coalition came to power.
But she claimed she had felt isolated within the group because of her stance on the incinerator from shortly after she was first elected and the problems intensified after the coalition was formed.
Asked whether she felt she had been bullied within the Labour group, she said: “Yes.”
She said senior figures within the group had called for her to be disciplined for failing to follow the leadership’s line, even though a majority of Labour councillors had sided with her in voting for the incinerator project to be scrapped when it was debated last autumn.
She insisted that she had backed the leadership on other issues, including in budget negotiations with the Green Party, who demanded a new vote in return for their support.
And she also alleged that she had been called to attend several disciplinary meetings without being told what specific allegations were beingmade against her.
She added: “It’s the sort of thing that happens in Stalinist Russia” and suggested that the council’s leader, George Nobbs, should have discussed the issues with her.
“The ball is in George’s court”, she said.
No-one from the Labour group has so far commented on Miss Kemp’s resignation.