Chairman of residents group steps down from energy company board over power plant plans for Northampton

The chairman of St James Residents' Association has resigned from a community energy board connected to plans for a new power plant in Northampton.

Friday, 6th May 2016, 12:47 pm
Updated Friday, 6th May 2016, 1:52 pm
From left to right, Brian Binley, chairman of St James' Residents Association Graham Croucher, former Communard Rev Richard Coles, Peter Rolton of Rolton Kilbride, Colin Banyard, director of business and innovation at Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, David Rolton and Vice Chancellor of the University of Northampton Prof. Nick Petford

Graham Croucher said the move came amid growing concern over the proposal for Westbridge site by developers Rolton Kilbride and that the voice of people living in the area was “telling us that the biggest benefit to the area we call home is not to have the plant built”.

Mr Croucher had taken a role on a community interest company, the Caring Community Energy Company, when the plans were first announced. Chairman of the company is former MP for Northampton South, Brian Binley. The company is not-for-profit and sells on the energy produced by the plant to the public.

In a statement, Mr Croucher said the residents’ association had decided to withdraw from the company.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“We no longer feel it serves our aims, and up to now it has served a greater purpose for the developer,” he said.

“It is set up as a company but has as yet no meaningful purpose or function, in relation to its description,” Mr Croucher claimed.

“We will support the campaign group in opposition where we feel appropriate, we have to however, still disseminate relevant information from both sides of the debate where we feel it is in residents’ best interests, and for their information.

“We will comment on the application as part of the normal process, once we have studied the data once its available and will still seek answers as part of that process. Our collective view will be based on overall risk to health from the plant in ratio to any proposed benefits, taking in to account the feelings of local residents.

“I have tried my best, as instructed by my committee to represent our residents’ view thus far, but the climate is changing and I have never lost sight of why I, and the other committee members, formed this association nearly ten years ago; to represent the residents’ views and to give them a voice, whilst trying to bring benefits to the area,” he added.

“That voice is currently telling us that the biggest benefit to the area we call home, St James, is not to have the plant built.

“As chair, and as an individual, I have always tried to strike a balanced, reasoned argument in forming a position, that will not change, but I must convey the will of the current majority of residents, many of them lifelong friends in a close-knit community, and that will is growing,” he added.

Mr Croucher said he urged residents to attend a meeting at the Doddridge Centre on May 26 at 7pm for an update on the proposals.

In response, Mr Binley, said he was sorry that Mr Croucher felt he had to step down.

“I am really sorry that Graham feels that he needs to step down but I know he takes his duties as chairman very seriously.

“He was put under great pressure by a small group of people making a lot of very misleading statements which have understandably impacted upon the thoughts of some of the people on his committee and he is doing the honourable thing on their behalf by bowing to the will of the majority on a committee which is made up of a very small number of people.

“I wish him well and I am sorry to lose him but we have got to get on with producing energy from a waste power station that will benefit Northampton and its population for the next 50 years,” he added.