A new inquiry into Norfolk County Council’s handling of the Lynn incinerator contract has been announced today, Monday, April 14.
A former joint leader of the authority, Stephen Revell, has been asked to examine three issues in relation to the authority’s agreement with Cory Wheelabrator, which members voted to terminate last week.
Mr Revell, who served as a county councillor for 16 years between 1985 and 2001, is currently an independent member of the council’s standards committee.
He will investigate three questions: how and why the authority found itself in its current situation, how and why the decision to end the contract was reached and the effect of outside political involvement in helping or hindering the fulfilment of the deal.
Mr Revell said: “I’m well aware what a divisive issue this has been for Norfolk and I hope I can have a constructive role to play in getting to the bottom of how the decision to proceed was arrived at. If I need to ruffle a few feathers along the way, so be it.
“I gave this challenge very careful thought before deciding whether to accept it.
“Now that I have done so, I will take account of all sides of the argument before reaching my own conclusions. I hope anybody that knows me will realise that I will carry out my duties in a fair but effective manner.”
Details of the new investigation were announced during a meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet in Norwich yesterday.
Leader George Nobbs said: “I can’t think of anyone else in Norfolk whose integrity would be accepted on all sides and who already has thorough knowledge of the background of how these decisions are arrived at.
“I have already said that lessons need to be learnt and I am determined that they will be learnt.
“We do need a ‘no fear or favour’ approach and I am pleased that Mr Revell has responded positively to my call.”
Leading anti-incinerator campaigner Mike Knights questioned the appointment, saying: “If somebody is going to really get to the bottom of it, it would be somebody totally external.”
But Mr Nobbs said he believed residents were entitled to an investigation, though he did not have the power to order a public inquiry.
He also maintains there is no need to look again at the conduct of officers, following last year’s inquiry by Jonathan Acton Davis QC.
Mr Acton Davis said he could find no evidence that undue risk had been taken in signing the agreement with Cory Wheelabrator, or any reason for officers to be held to account.