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West Norfolk Council leader faces call to quit in new climate change row




West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long is facing calls to resign today over comments he made after a fresh attempt to force climate change action was blocked.

Debate on a motion demanding the authority does more to tackle the problem was halted at a meeting on Thursday when Mr Long proposed it should be discussed at cabinet level.

That prompted opposition members to accuse the Conservative administration of paying “lip service” to the issue.

West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long
West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Long said he was “glad” activists were disappointed and claimed they did not understand how the council functioned.

He went on: “Those members of the public [the activists] are not members of the public. They’re members of a particular faction who want us to do everything we can to be as green as possible as quickly as possible. We won’t compromise our decision-making process.”

But a subsequent letter signed by 30 residents described his remarks as “disgraceful” and said he should quit.

It said: “We are the people of West Norfolk, and we will fight to save our homes, our property, and the places we love. And we are fighting to save yours too.”

Mr Long yesterday said his interview had been “abysmal” and he had apologised for it.

But he argued that the council had not been given enough time to study the implications of the ruling before the meeting.

He said: “We could have discussed round the subject for hours on end but we wouldn’t have been able to deal with the notice of motion.”

Below is the letter sent to the Lynn News by Charlie Gardner of Extinction Rebellion:

Charlie Gardner of King's Lynn's Extinction Rebellion group
Charlie Gardner of King's Lynn's Extinction Rebellion group

Dear Editor,

Last Thursday night, for the second time in three months, Conservative members of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council decided not to take immediate and urgent action to protect the residents of their own borough from the devastations of climate breakdown.

Well publicised maps based on recent NASA data show that huge swathes of the borough could be under water in as little as 30 years if immediate and radical action isn’t taken, meaning that thousands of people in places like King’s Lynn, Heacham, Hunstanton and the fen villages will lose their homes and the places they love. Other projections suggest that floods of the severity of the 1953 flood event, which killed over 300 people in East Anglia, will be an annual event by 2050. All too soon, King’s Lynn could be just a memory.

The council know this, yet still they choose not to take any meaningful action, or even allow the matters to be debated in full council. Instead, the Conservative councillors have again voted as a block to ensure a climate motion is sent to cabinet. This is a dereliction of their duty, be it moral or legal. As elected representatives of the people of West Norfolk, they have an obligation to act to protect us in the face of danger, yet they have chosen not to. It is particularly scandalous that the Conservative councillors representing the most vulnerable wards chose to vote with their Tory faction rather than in the interests of their constituents.

Council leader Brian Long even continues to insult us, the members of the public who attended the meeting. He has been quoted in the press saying "Those members of the public [the activists] are not members of the public. They're members of a particular faction who want us to do everything we can to be as green as possible as quickly as possible.” He even said he was “glad” we were disappointed at the outcome.

These comments, Mr Long, are disgraceful. We are not “members of a faction”, we are residents of your borough. We are mothers and fathers, grandparents and children. We are teachers, doctors, nurses, volunteers, councillors, business owners, retirees, and countless other members of the community. We are the people of West Norfolk, and we will fight to save our homes, our property, and the places we love. And we are fighting to save yours too.

Councillor Long’s comments show an utter contempt for the people of West Norfolk, and we call on him to resign from his post as Leader of the Council.

Signatories

Charlie Gardner, Ashwicken PE32

Jordan Stokes, Dersingham PE31

Bernadette Barclay, Stoke Ferry PE33

Jan Smith, Flitcham PE31

Jackie Wrout, Pott Row PE32

Cristiana Germeno, Heacham PE31

Linda Hall, PE36

Kirsten Murray, PE31

Linda Graham, PE33

Chris Renard, PE33

Ivan McCready, PE32

Liz Pendleton, Downham Market

Mary Maxey-Miller, Swaffham

Jan Nico Dobben, Downham Market PE38

Rob Archer, King’s Lynn PE30

Claire Archer, King’s Lynn PE30

Danny Southgate, King's Lynn PE30

Daniel Camp, King’s Lynn PE30

Vicky Fairweather, King's Lynn PE30

Alastair Kent, Downham Market PE38

Carol Renard, PE33

Lucy Faulkner-Gawlinksi, PE30

Brenda Kent, Downham Market PE38

Jenny Walker, Roydon PE32

Robert Shippey, Downham Market

Kirsty Nelson, King’s Lynn

Rita Rainbow, Swaffham PE37

Vivienne Manning, Kings Lynn PE30

Jim McNiel, Stoke Ferry PE33

Sandra McNiel, Stoke Ferry PE33

Verity Connolly, Kings Lynn PE30

Sheryl Booth, PE33



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