The end is in sight for the Lynn incinerator project and a majority of West Norfolk councillors have pledged to vote to scrap the contract.
Ahead of Monday’s extraordinary Norfolk County Council meeting on the issue, the Lynn News has contacted all 19 county councillors who represent divisions within our circulation area.
Of those, 10 have said that they will vote to cancel the authority’s agreement with Cory Wheelabrator.
Six declined to say how they will vote, with only one still supporting the Saddlebow scheme. Two, Labour’s David Collis and Conservative Tom Fitzpatrick, were not available for comment.
When they meet in Norwich, councillors will vote on whether they want to end the contract, triggering an estimated compensation bill of around £30 million, or allow the contract to continue and continue the wait for a government decision on whether the plant should be built or not.
That recommendation will then go to the authority’s ruling cabinet, which will meet after the full council meeting and has the final say on whether to axe the controversial plan.
The debate took a dramatic turn earlier this week when officers recommended that the contract should be terminated because of rising costs and warned that the financial benefits of the deal were falling so rapidly they would all be gone by June.
In a statement, Cory Wheelabrator said it was “extremely disappointed” by the report and claimed the project was a victim of the delay in communities secretary Eric Pickles’ decision on the planning application.
A spokesman added: “The fact still remains that there is no firm solution for the long-term management of Norfolk’s waste.”
That concern was echoed by the one councillor who said he would be voting for the contract to continue. Conservative Ian Monson, who represents The Brecks, claimed officers had been forced into making the recommendation and warned: “It’s going to be a complete mess.”
But fellow Tory, and Dersingham councillor, John Dobson, who has been at the heart of the political campaign against the project, said he would be voting to end it and said it was “probably the biggest muddle that a major council has got itself into.”
Among those who declined to reveal their intentions, Labour cabinet member Margaret Wilkinson said she knew how she would vote, but was not revealing that to anyone ahead of the vote, while Downham Conservative Tony White said he wanted to find out “the finer details” of the issue.
Conservative Mark Kiddle-Morris, who represents Necton and Launditch, said he was undecided, while Marshland South’s Harry Humphrey said he did not want to comment until he had heard the debate.
UKIP’s Swaffham councillor, Paul Smyth, said he opposed the project but did not want to be seen to have pre-determined the issue, while Marshland North’s Stephen Agnew said his views would be recorded in the chamber.
But their party colleague Jim Perkins, the member for Gaywood North and Central, was clear in his view as he said: “I’ll be voting to close this miserable, sad and expensive exercise.”
VOTING TO SCRAP THE CONTRACT
Richard Bird (Independent, North Coast)
Michael Chenery (Conservative, Docking)
Toby Coke (UKIP, Gayton and Nar Valley)
John Dobson (Conservative, Dersingham)
Alexandra Kemp (Independent, Clenchwarton and Lynn South)
Jason Law (Conservative, Freebridge Lynn)
Brian Long (Conservative, Fincham)
Jim Perkins (UKIP, Gaywood North and Central)
Martin Storey (Conservative, Feltwell)
Marie Strong (Liberal Democrat, Wells)
VOTING TO CONTINUE WITH THE CONTRACT
Ian Monson (Conservative, The Brecks)
REFUSED TO REVEAL
Stephen Agnew (UKIP, Marshland North)
Harry Humphrey (Conservative, Marshland South)
Mark Kiddle-Morris (Conservative, Necton and Launditch)
Paul Smyth (UKIP, Swaffham)
Tony White (Conservative, Downham)
Margaret Wilkinson (Labour, Gaywood South)
David Collis (Labour, Lynn North and Central)
Tom Fitzpatrick (Conservative, Fakenham)