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Why Monday’s King’s Lynn incinerator vote is hard to predict

PUBLISHED: 09:47 04 April 2014 | UPDATED: 09:47 04 April 2014

Protestors outside an earlier meeting make their views clear.

Protestors outside an earlier meeting make their views clear.

Archant Norfolk 2011

While the arguments for cancelling the contract now look overwhelming, the actual vote is a much tougher one to call.

In October, Norfolk County Council voted by 40 votes to 38 to press ahead with the incinerator.

While many hope Monday will see the project scrapped and contract to build and run it with Cory Wheelabrator terminated, the margin remains hard to predict. We e-mailed every county councillor to ask them how they would be voting. Some 19 - just under a quarter - replied.

The Conservatives, who championed the incinerator while they were in power, now control less than half of the seats on the 84-strong council.

They remain the largest group, with 40 seats, but are outnumbered collectively by Labour (14 seats), UKIP (13), the LibDems (10), Greens (4) and Independents (2); making a total of 43.

The council also currently has one non-aligned member, former UKIP councillor Matthew Smith, who has been suspended by his party.

UKIP, the LibDems, Greens, Independents will almost certainly vote to scrap the burner. Labour look set to follow suit, with members in cabinet roles no longer supporting it. That makes 43 votes against, which might look like game over.

Less clear is how the Conservatives will vote. Long-standing opponents Brian Long and John Dobson on the Conservatives will vote to scrap it. Jason Law and Martin Storey, who also voted against the incinerator last time, will presumably do so again.

Bill Borrett, Harry Humphrey, Ian Mackie and Alison Thomas were all members of the cabinet who agreed the original contract. But like most, they were giving nothing away prior to the meeting.

Then there is the question of abstentions or absences - just one or two could make matters very close indeed. Six were absent from October’s vote, meaning it could, in theory, have gone the other way.

But even if the full council does not vote to cancel the contract, the cabinet could still do so.

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