Angry exchanges during council debate

Meeting of Fenland District Council on December 14th which featured a lively exchange over a moratorium on council owned...

Meeting of Fenland District Council on December 14th which featured a lively exchange over a moratorium on council owned land near to or within the vicinity of a proposed mega incinerator in Wisbech - Credit: Archant

Fenland council chairman Alex Miscandlon intervened to halt an angry exchange after a Wisbech councillor was accused of lying.  

Cllr Will Sutton, an independent councillor, tore into Cllr Sam Hoy, portfolio holder for housing, during a debate on potential land sales.  

Councillors were discussing a motion brought by 12 members to amend a previously agreed moratorium on any sale of council owned land near the site of a possible rail station or possible incinerator in Wisbech. 

Cllr Mike Cornwell, who tabled the motion, wanted changes to ensure any local business wanting to buy any council land to expand could still do so but with covenants to prevent sales connected to the proposed incinerator.  

During the debate Cllr Hoy argued that it felt a political move by those supporting the new motion and urged the council not to sell “the family silver”. 

She said what proponents of the new motion were saying was that “you want to sell our land to people who can potentially use it for incinerator; that does surprise me, and I am disappointed with some of you”. 

But of Cllr Sutton she was “less surprised” he backed the motion “as this is another meeting where he has supported the incinerator. 

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“I really think he needs to search his conscience as it is just 100 yards over the border from Elm (Cllr Sutton’s ward).” 

Cllr Hoy told him: “It's not funny, it's shocking and I think you need to explain yourself.” 

Cllr Sutton, who had seconded the motion, was invited to speak towards the end of the debate.  

“I think members have given good representations of how they feel and of course they are entitled to do so.” 

But he said that “seeing as how I was picked out by Cllr Sam Hoy; I think I will respond to some of her allegations 

“We all know Cllr Hoy is very often economical with the truth, tells half-truths and sometimes blatant lies  

“She suggests I support the......” 

At that point deputy council leader Jan French intervened on a “point of order”. 

Cllr Miscandlon told Cllr Sutton: “Please refrain from derogatory remarks to another councillor in this meeting.” 

He said councillors were entitled to their opinion but derogatory comments were not the way to conduct council affairs.  

Cllr Sutton added: “When someone accuses me of something, I have every right to come back and defend that.” 

He said of Cllr Hoy: “Instead of going on Facebook and putting nonsense on there and did some research she will find I am on record as being against the incinerator  

“Let me make that absolutely clear.” 

The motion would, among other things, have substituted the previous moratorium, which they wanted lifted, in favour of new proposals that would have placed covenants on any sales.  

And they would have extended the time frame from six to 12 months. 

Cllr Mike Cornwell said the previous debate at council (in September) had not included information that has since been passed to councillor.  

He said those who signed the new motion were all against a mega incinerator for Wisbech and all supportive of the rail re-opening.  

“However, we are totally supportive of proper support to businesses –which the original motion was not and not supported by two portfolio holders at the time,” he said. 

Cllr Fred Yeulett said the original decision could have a “negative and damaging” effect on the Fenland economy 

Cllr Steve Tierney said the original motion was put in place to prevent any possible sale of council land that could assist the incinerator.  

He said the original motion “was about our land, we don’t have to sell our land to anyone”. 

Cllr Tierney described the amended motion as “mischief making by the opposition - you run the risk of changing your name from Fenland Independent Alliance to Fenland Incinerator Alliance if you approve this.” 

Cllr Nick Meekins said he had seconded the motion at the previous meeting as he thought it the best way forward to stop incinerator coming to Wisbech.  

But with reports of businesses being offered golden hellos to move out because of the moratorium, he welcomed the new approach. 

He said: “I am anti incinerator with all my heart but I do think we need to be mindful of what we do need is permanent, good quality jobs.” 

When it came to the vote, 10 voted in favour of the revised motion, 24 against.