Political parties in West Norfolk speak with one voice against the incinerator.
The rift between our borough and the rest of the county is as bad as it has ever been and the transition at County Hall to a Labour/Liberal coalition has been worryingly seamless.
Like its Tory predecessors, the new political masters seem all too unquestioningly led by their unelected officers.
County Hall is currently in turmoil because of the change in senior officers. Those that remain appear obsessed with imposing the incinerator on us at any cost.
Labour’s Alexandra Kemp, who represents the Clenchwarton and Lynn South division which includes the incinerator site, is fiercely outspoken against it.
She told me: “You go to County Hall to do your best for your division, for Norfolk and to stand up for your electorate, but sometimes you feel you are up against a brick wall.”
Alexandra recently won a vote to reject the Waste Allocation Site Specific Report as it backed the incinerator.
“The officers expected us to approve the report. They said it wasn’t usual to have a vote on this kind of report.” Alexandra then questioned, “Why would we come just to rubber stamp the report when it is wrong for Norfolk?”
When she asked to speak on the incinerator at the last cabinet scrutiny meeting, she was refused after the chairman took officers’ advice.
Alexandra is extremely loyal to the Labour group. But other councillors have let on that her outspokenness has not gone down very well with her party colleagues.
I also met Conservative John Dobson to discuss his experience of battling the burner.
He was keen to impress the importance of a contractual date, October 29, whereby a revised project plan must be agreed between the council and Cory Wheelabrator for the project to continue.
If the council sits on its hands the officers will simply approve a revised plan, increasing the cost of termination by millions of pounds.
John’s campaigning has caused him considerable grief from the Conservative group at county, but he regards his disciplinary letter as a campaign medal.
“They hauled me through the disciplinary process like a common criminal for the offence of,” pausing for effect, “independent thought.”
John had the full backing of his local party throughout, even though county Conservatives sought to stop him being selected as a candidate in the May elections.
On re-election, with an increased majority, John automatically became a member of the group again.
He said politics in Norfolk bears remarkable similarities to South America, adding: “The only thing missing is the ability to eliminate people.”
I can’t help but admire both John and Alexandra for taking the flak for their community at the risk of their own political careers. You can help them by writing to Eric Pickles and Owen Paterson saying, politely, what we think of Norfolk County Council.....