Parish under fire for its U-turn on gasifier

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There were repeated calls for Sutton Bridge parish councillors to resign following their decision to abandon a £10,000 legal fight over a gasifier due to be built at Wingland.

One councillor, Gary Croxford, handed in his notice at the parish council meeting – but only because he disagreed with the council’s move to abandon its case after spending nearly £2,500 on legal advice.

There were angry comments from the public gallery before the council debated the gasifier.

Coun Croxford, who was absent the night the council made its U-turn, dropped his resignation in front of the chairman John Grimwood and said: “I would just like to hand in my resignation because I don’t think we have handled this in the appropriate manner.”

The council had met behind closed doors and was asked by solicitors to spend another £2,000 to pose key questions to South Holland District Council – and, depending on answers received, then decide whether or not to press ahead with a judicial review.

Parish councillor Shirley Giles had offered to pay the £2,000 herself, out of her own pocket, but the council dropped things there and then.

Pensioner Mrs Giles (74) is now soldiering on alone and has offered to pay the costs of a judicial review.

Craig Jackson, chairman of BATI (Bridge Against the Incinerator), asked councillors on Tuesday to explain why they had abandoned the legal fight.

He said: “Many people feel it’s a betrayal, especially as the council decided to put money aside for this purpose.”

Coun Vicky Hills told him: “I wasn’t present at the last meeting due to personal reasons. I would have voted to have supported spending the £2,000 and, I think, as a parish council they have scored an own goal and have lost integrity, all integrity.”

Members of the public including Colin Blundell and Chris Morley also wanted to know why the council had reneged on its decision over the fighting fund.

Coun Michael Booth, one of three district councillors who opted against legal action, told the meeting: “I am not going to resign.”

But Mr Morley told him: “You are here for our good, not your own good.”

Coun Jenny Rowe said: “I voted to spend the £2,000 just to see what the reply would have been from South Holland District Council and then at least we could have come back to the public and said we have a good chance of winning a judicial review or we don’t, but we haven’t been given that chance to get the answers.”

South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes attended a public meeting called by Mrs Giles in the village on Thursday night and revealed he has misgivings about infrastructure being placed in an area “that’s possibly subject to tidal surges”.

This follows the 10ft surge that swept up the Nene on December 5.

Craig Jackson says concerns remain about the feedstock for the plant and the applicant still hasn’t carried out a species review of The Wash as required by Natural England.

lMany of the 60 people who attended the meeting have sent Mrs Giles letters backing her action.

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