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INCINERATOR – County tried to blackmail me into removing opposition – MP

Henry Bellingham MP arrives at the incinerator inquiry to give evidence.

Henry Bellingham MP arrives at the incinerator inquiry to give evidence.

Published on 14/04/2013 14:00

Henry Bellingham MP told the inquiry that Norfolk County Council effectively attempted to blackmail him and Government colleague Elizabeth Truss into removing their opposition to the Saddlebow incinerator.

He accused the county council’s leadership of refusing to tolerate any dissent to the view the incinerator should go ahead, a campaign of vilification against those who did speak out and he said there was predetermination of the outcome of a committee meeting whose job it was to scrutinise the decision.

Mr Bellingham said that issue was so “disgraceful” that he plans to complain to the Secretary of State about it.

As Mr Bellingham set out a raft of reasons why he believed the incinerator should not be built in West Norfolk, he said it was necessary to ask why the proposal had even got so far as a planning inquiry.

He questioned the influence of Derrick Murphy, the former leader of applicant Norfolk County Council, who stepped down in February.

Mr Bellingham said: “He drove this whole project, becoming completely obsessed with this project and as part of his obsession he asked an official to lie on his behalf.

“I think this is incredibly serious and must cast a great deal of doubt over his role in the process.

“When you have behaviour as serious as this it is very difficult to isolate that and not look at the impact it had on other processes and the way in which other people behaved within the process.”

Mr Bellingham, North West Norfolk MP, told the inquiry at the Professional Development Centre, in North Lynn, on Wednesday, he and Elizabeth Truss, South West Norfolk MP, were warned county council funding would be removed from their constituencies after they raised objections to the incinerator. A decision, which, he said, was later revoked.

“It was tantamount to blackmail,” Mr Bellingham said.

He said county councillors John Dobson and Brian Long were vilified for asking for decisions over the incinerator to be called in for cabinet scrutiny.

Mr Bellingham added that in advance of that scrutiny meeting an email was sent by Tony Adams, the chairman, which said: “There has been a group discussion and a decision on the stance cabinet scrutiny committee members should adopt.”

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