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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Police may be called in over vote claims

POLICE action might be considered over claims that councillors were intimidated into voting against the search for an underground nuclear repository in Cumbria.

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DEMOCRATIC PROCESS It is claimed councillors were intimidated ahead of their meeting to decide on the nuclear waste project

After last week’s ‘no’ vote in taking the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely process to stage four, Energy Minister Baroness Verma said she would look ‘very carefully’ at the allegations.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Lord Jenkin of Roding brought the allegations to Baroness Verma’s attention.

He said: “I am very worried about how the Cumbria County Councillors were persuaded to vote against moving to the next stage of a nuclear waste consultation.”

He went on to read from an email he said was inadvertently sent to a Copeland councillor by an anti-nuclear campaigner, which explains a plan to ‘scare the crap’ out of the councillors before their vote. The Evening Mail has also obtained a copy of the email, in which a man named states: “The Cumbria Councillors have probably been told that a ‘yes’ vote is perfectly fine and safe and legal.

“I would like us to open any message to them with the threat that they might be personally liable for irrational or reckless decisions, particularly ones which do not put care of their constituency at their heart.

“Now, our legal team may say that is unlikely, but the point is to scare the crap out of them personally when they go to vote.”

Although Copeland Borough Council voted in favour of the move to stage four of the process – desk-based studies – Cumbria County Council overruled its, and Allerdale’s, decision.

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

She said: “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.

“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.”

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