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Review ordered into contentious Egmere business park


By David Hannant, Local Democracy Reporter


An independent review of a controversial business park proposal, which triggered a change of leadership at North Norfolk District Council, has been commissioned.

North Norfolk District Council. (6186451)
North Norfolk District Council. (6186451)

At the authority's first full meeting since a vote of no confidence into the previous Tory administration last month, it was revealed a review of the Egmere Business Park, near Walsingham, has been commissioned.

But Nigel Dixon, portfolio holder for economic development, business and tourism, would not publicly reveal how much the review was costing.

Mr Dixon said the results of the review were expected back next month, after which the council can make an informed decision on whether to push ahead with the scheme.

However, when asked by fellow Conservative councillor John Lee for the cost, Mr Dixon responded by agreeing to provide a written response to his former leader’s question.

Mr Lee also asked whether the landowner and one signed-on tenant would be prepared to wait for the results of the review, or if they would be pull out of the scheme completely.

Mr Dixon said a written response to be included in the minutes of the meeting.

The Egmere scheme was a significant factor in the change of leadership at North Norfolk District Council, acting as a catalyst for Sarah Butikofer’s motion of no confidence at November’s meeting.

At the October full council meeting, members voted in favour of recommending to cabinet that the review be carried out.

However, at the resultant cabinet meeting, the then Conservative cabinet members agreed to ignore these recommendations and push ahead with the project – which was described at the time as “the death of democracy”.

This led to Liberal Democrat and now council leader Mrs Butikofer to table a vote of no confidence in Mr Lee’s leadership, which resulted in the council’s current cross-party cabinet.

Meanwhile, Mr Lee also asked Mrs Butikofer whether she agreed it should be the electorate that determines who runs the council.

Mrs Butikofer said: “I absolutely agree with this and they will get the opportunity to do so in May.”

The project has polarised opinions with many welcoming the move as a way of securing well-paid jobs in the district.

Concerns have been raised, however, about the district council investing more than £2 million in the scheme for what some believe will be limited returns.


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