Councillors threatened with prosecution on incinerator

Elected Croydon councillors have been threatened with criminal prosecution if they are found to have shared information contained in papers to be discussed in secret session at the Town Hall tonight.

The 10 members of the Labour group’s cabinet have been given access to the documents ahead of tonight’s behind-closed-doors meeting for the Conservatives who control the council, where plans are to be discussed over a £1 billion polluting incinerator proposed to be built on Croydon’s doorstep on Beddington Lane.

Environmental groups say that the incinerator will make Croydon and Sutton the rubbish capital of southern England.

The Labour Councillors have been warned by the council that they would be liable to prosecution under the Local Government Act if they are proved to have shared any of the information they have seen, even with other elected councillors of either party.

With Croydon’s Brave Leader, Mike Fisher, safely protected behind the Ring of Steel he has had erected at tax-payers’ expense in the Town Hall, damaging the Grade II-listed building, the prosecution threat appears to be the latest manifestation of a culture of secrecy that pervades Katharine Street.

The threat comes less than a week after a leading Tory in Sutton, opposed to the incinerator scheme but not in power on that council, spoke to the local free newspaper, revealing that the decision on the site and preferred contractor for an incinerator was all but finalised.

According to the Sutton Guardian‘s report: “Viridor is being presented by the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP), as its preferred bidder for a controversial new waste management plant for Croydon, Merton, Kingston and Sutton…

“Sources have said its plans involve an energy recovery facility, which campaigners believe will be an incinerator where waste is burned to produce electricity, The facility could produce enough energy to power thousands of homes, processing more than 200,000 tonnes of waste a year from the four boroughs.”

According to the report, it is already planned that Viridor will be “unveiled as the preferred bidder for the facility” next week.

“It would then be expected to submit a planning application by the middle of next year. If successful the plant could be up and operational by summer 2014,” the report said.

Councillor Fisher might wish to note the reported comments of his Tory counterpart on Sutton Council, Graham Whitham: “We have grave concerns about the facility, not just about the impact on Beddington and its residents, but we have concerns about how it conflicts with established planning policies.”

It is not known whether Tory councillor Whitham might face prosecution under the Local Government Act in the manner threatened against Croydon’s Labour leadership.

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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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