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Fury as Egmere business park vote overturned by council cabinet

North Norfolk District Council. (4538567)
North Norfolk District Council. (4538567)

A decision to press ahead with plans for a business zone in north Norfolk has been described as “the death of democracy”.

A North Norfolk District Council vote last week called for the Egmere Business Park scheme to be reconsidered, with 27 members voting the scheme back to cabinet.

However, at the proposal of council leader John Lee, all but one cabinet member present voted to stand by the decision in September to press ahead with the scheme when they met yesterday.

The vote also saw cabinet members opt against the recommendation of the council’s scrutiny committee to commission an independent viability study into the scheme.

The move was described by Eric Seward, deputy leader of the council’s Lib Dem group as “the death of democracy”.

He said: “One would like to think the cabinet would have respected the views of the full council, but this did not happen.”

Ahead of the vote, independent councillor John Rest, who resigned from the Conservative party last year, said: “It will be a sad day for democracy if the views of most of the council members are ignored.”

However, Mr Lee said: “I realise I will stand accused of causing democratic deficit, which does not sit comfortably with me.

“However, I believe the real democratic deficit sits with the voters of north Norfolk. In 2015, 32 of the 48 members of this council were voted as Conservatives and we stood on a manifesto which included promises to protect jobs, support businesses and create opportunities.”

Mr Lee proposed the council stand by the recommendations of the September meeting, rejecting both the recommendations of the Lib Dem group and the scrutiny committee. He was seconded by Richard Price.

The one cabinet member who did not vote in favour of Mr Lee’s proposal was Nigel Dixon, portfolio holder for economic development, who abstained from voting.

He said: “At this stage, it is not about the merits of Egmere, but more about adhering to the political process we are bound by – which I do not believe has happened.”

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