Norfolk County Council conducted a thorough investigation after three organisations – the Green Party, SNUB and Norfolk CPRE – reported that their Northern Distributor Roads submissions had not been included in the council's consultation report to the Planning Inspectorate.
The following statement was issued by Tom McCabe, Interim Director of Environment, Transport & Development at Norfolk County Council:
“I am sorry that it has not proved possible to find out why the three emailed submissions went missing, but it certainly should not have happened and we are taking immediate steps to make sure that it does not happen again.
“The County Council’s Head of Procurement has carried out an extremely thorough investigation, and although he has not been able to pin down the reasons, we have apologised to the Green Party, SNUB and CPRE. The County Council is committed to a full and open examination of the NDR application and it was in nobody’s interests for this to happen. It is important that the Planning Inspectorate has concluded* that none of the three organisations has been disadvantaged (see Section C, Paragraph 11 of the investigation report)
“We accept the report’s recommendations that in future the council should whenever possible use a web-based consultation system, and build in additional safeguards where email is still used. We are also looking at improving staff training, and a review of log retention policies to allow for investigation if things do go wrong in future.”
Anne Gibson, Acting Managing Director, said: "From time to time we carry out major infrastructure projects for the benefit of everyone who lives in Norfolk. These projects will always cause strong views, but I am committed to the debate about them being open and transparent and I would like the council and those who wish to disagree with any particular project to engage with each other in a climate of mutual respect."