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King's Lynn councillor quits opposition group in incineration row

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A West Norfolk councillor has resigned from the borough authority’s main opposition group, accusing some of her former colleagues of “trampling” over public concerns in relation to incineration proposals.

Alexandra Kemp says she will now sit as a non-aligned Independent Labour member for the South and West Lynn ward.

But the group’s leader has defended his position, insisting incineration appeared to him to be a “logical answer” to current questions of waste.

A waste incinerator like this is proposed just half a mile from the West Norfolk border.
A waste incinerator like this is proposed just half a mile from the West Norfolk border.

The decision follows debates within the authority, over several months, about its stance towards the proposed development of a new incinerator on the edge of Wisbech – on land just half a mile from the West Norfolk border.

In February, the authority overwhelmingly passed a motion opposing the scheme – a stance then upheld in a subsequent planning discussion.

But, during the initial debate, the Independent group leader, Terry Parish, suggested a regulated scheme may be a better alternative than others such as landfill or waste being burnt in fields.

However, Miss Kemp believes statements made by some of her colleagues showed a lack of respect for her area and the strength of feeling created by the fight against a similar proposal at Saddlebow, which was eventually halted in 2014.

In emails seen by the Lynn News, Miss Kemp claimed some group members had “mocked” community concerns about the technology and could no longer justify remaining a member.

She later added: “Now that all borough councillors voted for the climate change emergency, there’s no excuse to back technology with a carbon footprint twice the size of a coal-fired power station as any sort of solution.”

But Mr Parish said his question of how non-recyclable material would be processed without incineration had not been answered.

He said: “The independent group will be sorry to lose Alex from our fold as she is an excellent councillor who holds both the Borough and the County to account.

“She has very strong personal views and obviously finds some views of some of the independent members, principally mine, in conflict with hers.

“I have no problem with incineration in a modern, environmentally controlled, plant.

“It would be better if there was much less rubbish and better if what there was was recycled.

“However, going forwards, there is and will be an awful lot of new rubbish and contaminated rubbish for which incineration appears to be the logical answer.”

Mr Parish also stressed that the group does not operate a single party line.

Miss Kemp’s decision does not affect the overall balance of power within the council, where the Conservatives have a narrow majority.

The Tories hold 29 of the 55 seats, with 15 in the main Independent group.

The Labour group has eight councillors, while Miss Kemp is now one of three independent members who are not part of the main group.

They include Fairstead’s Cllr Gary Howman, who previously was part of the Labour group.

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