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Calls for council deputy leader to apologise for King's Lynn Guildhall accusation

The deputy leader of West Norfolk Council has been urged to apologise after she suggested campaigners had misused confidential information relating to a Lynn arts complex.

Elizabeth Nockolds made the claim as she defended the authority’s handling of the St George’s Guildhall at a meeting last night.

The comment followed the publication of a new vision for the King Street complex from the Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust earlier this month.

The St George's Guildhall in King's Lynn (17566172)
The St George's Guildhall in King's Lynn (17566172)

During public questions at Thursday’s full council meeting, the trust’s chairman, Ivor Rowlands, said: “We want to work with and support all other parties to make the Guildhall sustainable and cease it to be a burden on the borough council’s finances.

“What can the Shakespeare’s Guildhall Trust now do to make our vision a reality and to relieve the council of the financial burden of the £120,000 loss a year?”

But Mrs Nockolds said the trust was in “a privileged position” and claimed its document had originated from information circulated during a confidential meeting last March.

Councillor Elizabeth Nockolds (43202914)
Councillor Elizabeth Nockolds (43202914)

She insisted the council had a vision and plan for the Guildhall which would meet the SGT's aims.

She added: “The plan is for everyone - new and old users and, of course, visitors.

“We will continue seeking funds to bring about the successful conclusion of our plan and at the same time work in partnership with the National Trust.”

Mr Rowlands declared himself “speechless” in response, but did not question her further during the meeting.

The St George's Guildhall in King Street, King's Lynn (31424442)
The St George's Guildhall in King Street, King's Lynn (31424442)

However, in a later email, he claimed her answer was “defammatory” and the question had been intended as "an olive branch".

The issue then flared up again when councillors were asked whether to halt the meeting after three hours.

Under the council’s rules, members have to vote to extend a meeting beyond the three hour limit and a majority rejected a proposal to continue sitting.

A vision for the future of the St George's Guildhall in Lynn. The bar area. (44355440)
A vision for the future of the St George's Guildhall in Lynn. The bar area. (44355440)

Independent Jim Moriarty said Mrs Nockolds had made “a serious, unsubstantiated allegation and I would like question time to take place for her to apologise and withdraw it.”

Fellow independent Jo Rust said the comments had potentially damaged the trust’s reputation and Mrs Nockolds should be given the opportunity to either elaborate on it or say sorry.

However, Mrs Nockolds did not respond before the meeting ended.

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