THE chairman of Hartlebury Parish Council has defended its decision to hand over £5,000 to the anti-incinerator fight.

Jenny Jones had the casting vote after four parish councillors voted in favour and another four against donating the cash to the Worcestershire Residents Against Incineration and Landfill (WAIL) group. She voted in favour of allocating the money.

The cash will be put towards finding the tens of thousands of pounds needed to secure planning and legal experts to represent WAIL at a planning inquiry into the £120 million proposal by Mercia Waste Management to build a waste plant. The inquiry will start on November 22.

The decision came under fire from Hartlebury resident Wendy Gwilliam, who wrote to the council saying: “Surely an independent group of campaigners should raise their own funds.

“I do not agree that the parish council should donate such a large amount of money without asking the whole community their opinions and to allow them to vote on the outcome.”

She suggested other uses for the money, such as updating the toilets in the parish hall and speed signs.

But Mrs Jones said: “We felt it was in the village’s interest and that’s why we are there, to represent the villagers.

“We felt that if we didn’t actually support WAIL we would have the incinerator and we feel it was important to support them in getting representation.” She added that the parish council supported other causes in the village and £4,500 was donated towards the parish hall renovation.

“All the people who had an interest weren’t involved in the vote. They actually went out of the room so they didn’t influence us.

“The members of WAIL on the council are interested in the village and I wouldn’t like anybody to think that they weren’t. It’s what drew them to become councillors. They feel they can contribute to all issues in the village. They are not just one-trick ponies.”

WAIL chairman Ray Kirby said: “What people don’t understand is that if something crops up about WAIL we have to abstain from the vote so the more members on the council works against us.”

He said the donation now meant that the group had enough money to hire expert representatives.

He added: “We still need more funds going forward as a contingency. We have got to compile all our evidence and supply it in triplicate so we will need money for printing costs.”

If the plans are given the go-ahead, two buildings to burn 200,000 tonnes of residual waste will be built on the 3.5 hectare site, with a chimney stack towering 75 metres above ground level.