West Norfolk Council Delays Emergency

Tonight (17th Oct) the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk has failed to act. A motion to declare a climate and ecological emergency was put to the full council, if accepted our council would have joined over half of all principal councils in the UK in making a strong and clear commitment to tackling this crisis and protecting the future of the local area and its people.

Climate Youth Strikers, Extinction Rebellion, and Harding’s Way campaigners joined together in solidarity outside the King’s Lynn Town Hall before the meeting to wave banners, sing songs, and push the council to act now.

After a mind-boggling set of procedures and even an unprecedented re-run of the vote, the council eventually decided to ‘refer the motion to cabinet’, which prevented any debate about it in the meeting and kicked it into the long grass rather than decide anything now. The council has failed to appreciate the urgency of the situation, and has positioned itself out of step with the positive trend of other councils.

Cllr Ian Devereux, Environment Portfolio Holder, launched into a tirade against Extinction Rebellion and called our demand for a Citizens’ Assembly “undemocratic”, while himself voting to shut down debate. Citizens’ Assemblies are a democratic deliberative process which have been used successfully in other countries to reach a consensus on complex issues. XR calls for a Citizens’ Assembly to decide how to move forward because we think politicians can’t be trusted to do what’s needed, but once ordinary people know the facts – they will know what needs to be done.

In London, the iconic Red Rebel Brigade visited a Lambeth Borough Council meeting last night (16th Oct) to thank them for their support in allowing XR to use Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens as a camping site during the London protests. One of our local members, Robert Shippey, who was at both the Lambeth meeting and tonight’s King’s Lynn meeting noted “In Lambeth both sides of the chamber were fully supportive of XR and the protests being done in the city, whereas tonight Cllr Devereux resorted to petty insults and some councillors weren’t even paying enough attention to know what they were voting for.”

Extinction Rebellion, including members of our local King’s Lynn and West Norfolk chapter, have been taking part in civil disobedience on the streets of London for the past two weeks. We are there because the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency but has failed to take action since. Our Borough Council won’t even admit there’s an emergency; the resolve of our local group is only strengthened from the shambolic events of this meeting.

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