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EXCLUSIVE: Tories in turmoil after Government approves mega incinerator for Wisbech

These are extraordinary times in Fenland

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WhatsApp messages seen by CambsNews reveal the crisis of confidence Conservative councillors have in their MP Steve Barclay following Government approval of a ££450m mega incinerator for Wisbech. One prominent Conservative councillor even told his colleagues last night: “We have never had as bad a loss as this. I am going to have to consider my position.”

Another Conservative councillor claimed Mr Barclay “puts very little effort to get things done in Fenland”.

A fellow Tory councillor said of the Wisbech decision: “This is really a bleak day for Wisbech. It makes you wonder whether all the consultations were just paying lip service to an already made decision.

“And no appeal process unless judicial review is sought”.

One other Conservative councillor linked the incinerator decision to that of the proposed new reservoir for an area north of Chatteris.

“Box ticking exercise,” was the councillor’s reaction.

CambsNews has decided to respect the privacy of those individuals who posted these comments, but they do show the intense pressure Mr Barclay can expect ahead of a General Election this year.

MP Steve Barclay speaking at a public meeting in 2020 to halt the incinerator

MP Steve Barclay speaking at a public meeting in 2020 to halt the incinerator

Until now his majority is one of the strongest for any sitting Conservative MP, but the Wisbech incinerator decision has effectively and overnight cost him hundreds, if not thousands of votes.

And, more crucially, if he loses support from Conservative activists it could pave the way for other parties, possibly Reform, to attract new members in the Fens.

Mr Barclay could also face a grilling from the NE Cambs Conservative Association executive and there could well be pressure on them to examine party rules to see if a postal ballot of members might be needed to secure his support as their Parliamentary candidate.

These are extraordinary times in Fenland.

I was told today that Mr Barclay refused to accept calls last night from enraged Conservative councillors although that did not stop some of them going public with their thoughts.

And they choose the MP’s Facebook page to land early punches in his direction.

Cllr Steve Tierney, district councillor for Wisbech South, said: “It is a dark day for Wisbech. The Government and its representatives have let us down, democracy has been ignored in favour of corporate interests.

Cllr Steve Tierney  said: “It is a dark day for Wisbech. The Government and its representatives have let us down, democracy has been ignored in favour of corporate interests.”

The MP himself simply wrote that “I am extremely disappointed that development consent has been granted for the Wisbech incinerator.

“As residents are aware, I have campaigned against this proposal and my thanks go to all those campaigners, individuals and organisations who have supported me along the way.

“There is a lot to digest in the [60 page] decision letter and recommendation report and I will review that to try to understand why this scheme has been approved and how we might move forward”.

But Cllr Susan Wallwork, a former Mayor of Wisbech and Fenland Council portfolio holder for community, health, and environmental health, told him: “You would be more than disappointed if you actually lived here, if it was your house losing value, your health being affected, and your roads being clogged with 300 plus lorries daily.

“We needed your support, if there was ever one time you should have stood up and fought for us it was on this issue!!!”

Anthony Barber, whose wife Brenda is a Conservative councillor, wrote: “This is nonsense. Why did we have to wait so long as it was the secretary of state to make the decision?

“It is just another scapegoat attitude. The decision is unjust.”

Another councillor, Billy Rackley, told the MP: “I am still sitting here staring into space thinking about my town and the effects this will have on it.

“I stay here because I’ve always lived here, and I truly love the people, but I would sell up and move closer to the coast if it was not for my better half’s mum and dad living at Walton Highway and mine living next door.”

Independent councillor David Patrick said: “At the next election Barclay needs to be defeated. He has done little to nothing for this area

“I’d like to think that people from Wisbech and surrounding villages will come together to demonstrate their contempt as to how we have been treated by our government. We should not consider the decision the end of the matter.”

The incinerator approval, announced 24 hours earlier than expected, was made by Claire Coutinho, appointed last August as Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), replacing Grant Shapps.

She promised at the time: “I will work with the Prime Minister to safeguard our energy security, reduce bills for families, and build cleaner, cheaper, homegrown energy.”

 

 

 

 

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