Sutton Bridge parish council accused of ‘betraying’ residents over plant legal action

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A village parish councillor has resigned and residents have called for others to follow suit after plans for legal action against a proposed gasifier in their area were abandoned.

Residents have accused Sutton Bridge Parish Council of betraying them after they voted to halt their plans to challenge planning consent for the proposed plant at Wingland.

One councillor, Gary Croxford, quit at the council’s meeting last Tuesday, but only because he disagreed with abandoning the case after spending nearly £2,500 on legal advice.

He dropped his resignation in front of the chairman John Grimwood and said: “I would just like to hand in my resignation because I don’t think we have handled this in the appropriate manner.”

The council had met behind closed doors and was asked by solicitors to spend another £2,000 to pose key questions to South Holland District Council – and then, depending on the answers, decide whether to press ahead with an application for a judicial review.

Parish councillor Shirley Giles had offered to pay the £2,000 herself, out of her own pocket, but the council dropped things there and then. She is now soldiering on alone and has offered to pay the legal costs.

Craig Jackson, chairman of BATI (Bridge Against the Incinerator), asked councillors on Tuesday to explain why they had abandoned the legal fight.

He said: “Many people feel it’s a betrayal, especially as the council decided to put money aside for this purpose.”

Councillor Vicky Hills, who missed the key meeting for personal reasons, said she would have supported spending the cash, adding: “I think, as a parish council, they have scored an own goal and have lost integrity, all integrity.”

Michael Booth, one of three district councillors on the authority, insisted he would not stand down.

But resident Chris Morley told him: “You are here for our good, not your own good.”

Meanwhile, South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes attended a public meeting called by Mrs Giles in the village on Thursday night and revealed he has misgivings about infrastructure being placed in an area “that’s possibly subject to tidal surges”, following the 10ft surge that swept up the River Nene on December 5.

Mr Jackson said concerns remained about the feedstock for the plant and the applicant still hasn’t carried out a species review of The Wash as required by Natural England.

• Many of the 60 people who attended the meeting have sent Mrs Giles letters backing her action.