Secret meeting planned to decide on deadly £1bn incinerator

Next week, Croydon Council is to make a £1 billion decision, which could threaten the long-term health of generations of local people. All the decisive discussions will be conducted in secret behind closed doors.

The ruling Conservative group’s “cabinet” will stop members of the public from listening to the discussions on Monday, when the council is expected to decide who to support as the preferred bidder for a massive waste incinerator, and where the incinerator will be sited.

The successful bidder for this long-term, £1 billion deal will have among its responsibilities the need to deal with sludge disposal; radioactive, toxic and medical waste services; the construction of the incinerator; the transport of the waste from south London and outside London, all on Croydon’s very busy road network; and the transport and disposal of the subsequent lightweight waste ash.

Ten Conservative councillors will decide where the incinerator will be placed. They are: Mike Fisher, the Leader of the Council; Dudley Mead, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Finance and Asset Management; Tim Pollard, Deputy Leader (Regeneration and Economic Development) and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Learners; Sara Bashford, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Culture and Sport; Simon Hoar, Cabinet Member for Community Safety; Margaret Mead, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care; Vidhi Mohan, Cabinet Member for Communities and the Big Society; Steve O’Connell, Cabinet Member for Performance and Transformation; Jason Perry, Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Sustainability; Phil Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways.

You might wish to contact one or more of these councillors – they might even be supposed to represent the ward where you live – to put forward your views on the incinerator issue before Monday’s meeting. Because you certainly won’t get an opportunity to air your views at that meeting.

A site earmarked at Beddington Lane, in Sutton on the border of Croydon, is the likely choice. Prevailing winds would carry the potential toxic waste exhaust from the plant right over Beddington, Waddon and central Croydon, threatening the health of residents of thousands of homes, several schools, and tens of thousands of shoppers in the Whitgift Centre and Centrale shopping malls.

Ahead of last year’s council elections, fielding a question from Waddon councillor Clare Hilley, Phil “Two Permits” Thomas ridiculed Labour suggestions that the local Tories were about to green-light an incinerator to be built “within the borough” of Croydon. The best you can say of this response now is that, while being strictly accurate, in terms of the effect of the scheme, Thomas was deliberately misleading, all in the pursuit of votes at the expense of Croydon residents’ long-term health.

On Monday night, all the councillors deciding on our future health live in the south or east of the borough, well away from the proposed site. With prevailing westerly winds, it is north and central Croydon that is in the deadly flightpath of any dioxins and ultrafine particulates released into the atmosphere from the planned incinerator. Many scientific reports suggest that when breathed in, these particulates can cause deadly cancers, lung and heart diseases.

Even children who have not yet been conceived could have their lives blighted by Monday’s meeting of Croydon’s secretive cabinet. Birth defects and DNA structural damage are among the problems caused by some of the particles likely to blow across Croydon from the incinerator.

In July, Inside Croydon correspondent the Green Man filed this extensive report on the subject of incinerators and the associated health risks. We would recommend that all Croydon councillors, especially the cabinet members, should give it a careful read before Monday.

At time of publication, despite requests for his position on the incinerator issue and how it might affect the health of his 75,000 constituents, Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell – who is also the employer of one of the cabinet members who is due to attend Monday’s meeting – had not responded.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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