Northampton resident’s chair hit back at ‘bullying’ claim over power plant decision

Graham Croucher of the St James residents' Association.
Graham Croucher of the St James residents' Association.
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The chair of a Northampton residents’ association has hit back at claims campaigners “bullied” councillors into deferring their decision on a massive power plant this week.

The war of words between St James Residents’ Association (SJRA) chairman Graham Croucher and former Northampton South MP Brian Binley has continued today.

The spat began on Wednesday after Mr Croucher said the former MP had given confusing messages on the proposed power plant planned for St James.

Mr Binley hit back yesterday saying campaigners had bullied Northampton Borough councillors into deferring a decision on the plant. He went on to brand the councillors as having “Luddite” attitudes towards business.

He also said Mr Croucher had to bear some responsibility in the standard of consultation as a former board member of the company set up to sell the energy from the plant.

But Mr Croucher has delivered a further stinging attack in an open letter today.

He said: “We would like to clarify that at no stage, has any resident bullied any councillor into making a decision.

“In fact the SJRA wrote to the council cabinet in a polite, respectful and constructive manner, before the meeting.

“The residents protesting outside the Guildhall did so in a lawful, peaceful and good humoured fashion.

“It would seem all Mr Binley has done here is added to the feeling of mistrust from residents.”

Mr Croucher said he welcomed the council’s decision to defer.

“We believe they have taken the correct decision and is a victory for common sense and respect,” he added.

“It is such a shame that Mr Binley cannot extol the same virtues and deliver, full, meaningful and transparent consultation to the people of St James and Northampton, instead of insulting residents and councillors alike.”

Attention now points towards a motion to the Northamptonshire County Council meeting on June 16, where a motion will call for a referendum on the £160 million power plant scheme.

“Failure to do so would seriously, undermine democracy, and the roles the councillors are elected to perform,” Mr Croucher added.