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Friday, 18 April 2014

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No Allerdale council debate over nuclear waste store plan

Allerdale councillors are angry that they will not get a chance to formally debate plans for a nuclear waste dump.

Eric Nicholson photo
Eric Nicholson

Back bench members of Allerdale council expressed their concerns at an informal meeting last night, saying it was one of the most important decisions to be made about the future of west Cumbria and local councillors did not have a formal say.

The decision on whether the area could host a waste repository will be taken next month, when the executives of the borough councils and the county council cabinet vote on whether to go ahead.

Bill Jefferson, representing Silloth, said it didn’t do anything for their standing in the community that they had to stand and watch what was going on.

“This is the lives of many, many generations. We are told regularly not just by the Allerdale executive and others that we’ll opt out whenever we want. Can I opt out tonight?” he said.

“Can 90 per cent of the public opt out? No we can’t.

“I think the majority of councillors don’t want to express an interest any more because they can see the dangers of getting involved.

“The people taking the decision haven’t got a mandate to go forward.”

Eric Nicholson, of Crummock ward, added: “This is the most important decision that this cabinet’s about to make and I’m very disappointed that we are not going to have a debate on it at least for information.”

John Colhoun, representing Ellen ward, said he was almost being accused by constituents of “slipping away” from the decision-making process.

But council leader Alan Smith said the council’s constitution required the decision to be taken by the executive and he had received legal advice that executive members could not be involved in a formal debate before their meeting because it could lead to predetermination.

As councillors arrived, Silloth residents staged a protest against plans they fear could lead to nuclear waste being buried beneath their homes.

Cumbria County Council leader Eddie Martin and Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn were in the public gallery to hear the discussions.

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