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Nuclear decision: Councillor quits senior role, minister hints at police probe into 'intimidation'

A senior Cumbria county councillor has resigned from its executive following a decision not to search for locations for a nuclear repository.

Tim Knowles photo
Tim Knowles

Weblink: Read Eddie Martin and Stewart Young's letter to energy secretary Ed Davey

Tim Knowles, who represents Cleator Moor North, has stepped down from his position as a member of the council's cabinet following last week's decision.

It is understood Mr Knowles will continue to serve as a councillor.

Reacting to the news, Copeland MP Jamie Reed said he was sad to see the cabinet lose its only member with an understanding and experience of policy making in the nuclear industry.

"But it was impossible for Tim to remain part of a cabinet that votes against its own nuclear policies and which then expects to be taken seriously by the people of west Cumbria, the nuclear industry or national government.

“Cumbria County Council’s policies are not credible, they are not coherent and they risk causing profound damage to west Cumbria.

“Tim has represented our area with distinction for many years and as Copeland and Allerdale borough councils, the trade unions, industry and others move forward with a process to progress the issue of radioactive waste disposal with government, he will play a pivotal role in this,” he added.

Meanwhile, energy minister Baroness Verma has said she will consider involving the police following allegations that councillors faced intimidation from anti-nuclear protesters.

Former environment minister Lord Jenkin of Roding said he had seen an email calling for campaigners against the scheme to “scare the ****” out of councillors.

Baroness Verma said she would get her civil servants to examine the issue and that it was “a matter for perhaps the police to look at”.

At question time in the House of Lords today, Lord Jenkin said: “I am very worried indeed about how the Cumbria County Council councillors were persuaded to vote against moving to the next stage of the nuclear waste consultation.

“I would like to quote from an email that was inadvertently sent to a Copeland councillor and obviously sent by an anti-nuclear campaigner and it contains a chilling message.

“What it says is that what they need to have is a campaign ’to tell the councillors of the threat that they might be personally liable for irrational or reckless decisions particularly ones that do not put the care of their constituency at the heart’.

“’The point is,’ it goes on, ’to scare the **** out of them personally when they go to vote’.

Baroness Verma asked Lord Jenkin to forward her the email so her officials could examine it in more detail.

“I do know that passions were raised on both sides of the argument in Cumbria, but that is right and proper and a proper democratic process,” she said.

“However, you are right there was a lot of scaremongering and misleading information that was distributed out there.

“Unfortunately, when we go down the process of ensuring this is a community-led voluntary process, it is one of the by-products that there will be misleading information.

“But I will look very carefully and if it is something that I need to raise further and it looks like intimidation, I will take it as a matter for perhaps the police to look at.”

Have your say

The inquiry into this decision is extremely dodgy Mr Reed and his cohorts lost the vote and seem determined to carry on until they get their way.
The statement that the majority of Copelands people want the nuclear dump ignores the fact that the majority of Cumbrians do not want the dump, if it was put to all the people in Cumbrian to vote on then and only then would it be a fair vote, would Mr Reed then accept the outcome, as for it affecting a new nuclear power station build then again do the majority of Cumbrian want this given the safety record of the present sellafield set up.

Posted by Paul Irving on 18 February 2013 at 18:47

What most amazes me is just how much difficulty the supporters of building a nuclear waste dump in Cumbria have experienced in being able to hear the size and scale of the NO. Eddie Martins speech to CCC and his letter to Ed Davey are very balanced. Read them, then read them again. There is no "anti nuclear"vote voting "no" to everything. The case for re-exploring the already excluded fractured geology around Sellafield was always weak. There was no evidence ever presented of a willing community. What has now become apparent is that some individuals would do absolutely anything to get this dump, including submitting new laws to overturn democratic process. This really does not sound like a safe, scientifically based and objective process.

Posted by cumbrian on 14 February 2013 at 17:52

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Is The Autumn Statement good news for Cumbria?

Yes - the enterprise zone jobs and airport flights are a fantastic boost

It's more positive than expected but could have been better

I agree with Jamie Reed, it is all smoke and mirrors

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