We have been attempting to highlight to democratic deficit here in Norfolk for some time now as decisions made by elected bodies at county and district ignore popular opinion and press ahead with schemes that do not have the backing of the local electorate.
The Kings Lynn Incinerator is a classic example and the comments made below by Messrs Bellingham and Freeman, two local Norfolk MP’s in a Parliamentary debate on 16th Jan 2013, highlight the deficit admirably.
HENRY BELLIGHAM (North West Norfolk, Conservative)
What do the public think of all this? During the consultation process I chaired some public meetings, and both sides of the argument were made vehemently and strongly. Nearly 2,000 people voted, having attended those meetings, and 99% voted against the incinerator. The borough council then carried out a borough-wide referendum covering my entire constituency and most of the constituency of my hon. Friend Elizabeth Truss. It was run by King’s Lynn and West Norfolk borough council under Electoral Commission rules, and the result was remarkable—65,516 people voted no on a turnout of 61.3%, so a total of 92.68% voted no. Compared with the recent police and crime commissioner elections, when the turnout was around 12%, that must be one of the most decisive, if not the most decisive result in British electoral history.
GEORGE FREEMAN (Mid Norfolk, Conservative)
Does he agree that whatever the whys and wherefores of the issue—some of the arguments are complex—localism often requires difficult and tough decisions from the locality, but democracy is ill served if, at any level of government, consultation takes place but its findings are ignored, particularly when they are as overwhelming as in this case?
You can see the full text of the Parliamentary debate here:
We couldn’t have put it more succinctly.
Now roll in the following decisions made against public opinion and, in the case of the first, against legal advice:
- Joint Core Strategy
- Northern Distributor Road
- Purchase of RAF Coltishall
- Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour
Our contention then is that in their drive to convert from revenue spending organisations into revenue generating organisations local councils have forgotten about the wishes of the very people they are elected to serve. There is however a great opportunity to upset the current seat of power at County Hall by standing as an Independent in May. Let us know if you would support an Independent!