Call for community fridges in north Norfolk spirals into debate over party politics

North Norfolk district councillor Annie Claussen-Reynolds, left, with April Simnor of First Focus at

North Norfolk district councillor Annie Claussen-Reynolds, left, with April Simnor of First Focus at the opening of the new community fridge in Fakenham. Picture: Courtesy North Norfolk District Council - Credit: Archant

A debate around community fridges led to accusations of playing party politics towards both the two largest groups in North Norfolk District Council.

A motion tabled by Conservative councillor Annie Claussen-Reynolds for Fakenham called for the council to commit funds for community fridges to be placed in every town in the district.

Community fridges is a relatively new initiative, whereby supermarkets, businesses and members of the public can contribute leftovers to a communal fridge in a public place, to ensure perfectly edible food is not thrown away.

However, when Liberal Democrat cabinet member Nigel Lloyd tabled an amendment to the motion, the debate very quickly become about party allegiance.

Mr Lloyd's amendment stated that instead of purchasing fridges immediately, officers should first identify exact locations and host organisations for them, which would then require business cases to be prepared for each individual fridge.

Tom FitzPatrick, the council's former leader, however, hit out at Mr Lloyd's inclusion of his party allegiance in the wording of his response to Mrs Claussen-Reynolds' original motion.

The response read: 'As a Liberal Democrat, the principles are close to my heart, but in its current form it is not something I can support'.

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Mr FitzPatrick said it was 'a shame' party politics had been included in the response.

Brian Hannah, Liberal Democrat councillor for Sheringham, however, pointed out Mrs Claussen-Reynolds' motion also included mentions of party allegiance.

The motion said: 'It is recommended that following the first, very successful community fridge, similar fridges be placed in all towns across the district and any large parish that believe they could sustain one.'

However, it also read: 'The environment is something the Conservative group cares deeply about, and they were responsible for introducing the community fridge project.'

Ahead of the motion, Mrs Claussen-Reynolds told members how the success of the project in Fakenham, which began in November 2017, was something that could be built on.

She said: 'Since it was set up, the community fridge in Fakenham has saved 8.99 tonnes of food waste and is one of the most successful in Norfolk.

'Nobody likes to see edible food going for waste and at around £800 a fridge, it would not come at a huge cost.'

However, members narrowly voted in favour of Mr Lloyd's amendment, which was then consequently carried.