Incinerator firm slammed as council leader ‘hounded out’

John Cartwright
John Cartwright

A SENIOR politician was told he could be sued ‘for millions of pounds’ if he took part in discussions over a controversial incinerator in Calvert, it has emerged.

On Tuesday, Councillor John Cartwright dramatically pulled out of a Bucks County Council planning meeting to decide the fate of the £200million plant. Following the meeting, which is set to conclude on Friday, Mr Cartwright vented his fury, saying he had been put under unfair pressure.

And a fellow councillor branded it ‘disgraceful’ that Mr Cartwright had been ‘hounded out’ by energy firm WRG, which is behind the plans.

The application had not been set to be decided until the autumn, after politicians put the bid on hold in February.

But after WRG threatened legal action, it was decided to bring the talks forward to two day-long meetings, on Tuesday and Friday this week. WRG claimed Mr Cartwright had breached the code of practice by sitting on the development control committee discussing the bid, having voiced opposition 12 months ago.

Mr Cartwright, who is leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council, told the Herald: “What’s the price for democracy? I was told that if I carried on, I would run a definite risk that I could be taken to court, and I could be fined many millions of pounds. I don’t think it’s at all fair to put a councillor under that kind of pressure. I have a family, why should I have to lay that on the line just to carry out the duties I was elected to do?”

Ward councillor Michael Edmonds, Conservative, who spoke against the application, said: “I’m so cross that my friend and colleague John Cartwright has been hounded out of this committee,

“I think that’s disgraceful. He’s one of the most experienced politicians in Bucks, and WRG are questioning his integrity. I think it’s shameful.”

And he continued: “It would appear that the authority has been put under pressure from the applicant and has caved in.”

As the meeting began, Councillor Mary Baldwin voiced her concerns over whether it should be taking place. She said: “I believe due process has been hijacked. I have no proof, but I believe this is the case. I’m very uncomfortable with what’s gone on.”