3 May 2010: “We have made it absolutely clear that Croydon Conservatives do not support incineration at all and will absolutely not have an incinerator in our borough or support one close to our borders.”
14 November 2011: Nine of the most senior Croydon Conservative councillors, including Our Brave Leader Mike Fisher, gathered behind closed doors at the Town Hall and agreed on the preferred bidder to build and operate a £1 billion contract for an incinerator at Beddington Lane, right on the Sutton-Croydon borough boundary.
At least, that’s what they are thought to have all agreed on the nod, since Fisher has had the council bandy around threats of legal action against anyone who dares act in the public interest and tries to discuss and debate this momentous decision.
The names of the election promise-breaking councillors are:
Mike Fisher, the Leader of the Council; Cuddly Dudley Mead, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Finance and Asset Management; Sara “Book Token” Bashford, Cabinet Member for Customer Services,
Culture and Sport and Gavin Barwell’s paid constituency assistant; Simon “We won’t be using the incinerator’s radioactive facility” Hoar, Cabinet Member for Community Safety; Margaret Mead, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care; Vidhi Mohan, Cabinet Member for Communities and the Little Society; Jason Perry, Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Sustainability; Phil “Two Permits” Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways.
Absenting himself from the meeting (and blame for the decision?) was Steve O’Connell, Britain’s most overpaid councillor. Which somewhat prompts the question: what do the people of Kenley, and London Assembly constituency of Croydon and Sutton, get for their £115,000-plus per year?
Another missing was Tim Pollard, a deputy leader of the Tory group whose council brief includes Regeneration and Economic Development (so might have had a role over an incinerator?).
Also missing from the Town Hall was the MP for an area very likely to be blighted by the Croydon incinerator’s cloud of carcinogens. Step forward (come on, out from behind the safety of your sofa) career politician Gavin Barwell, the man who famously saw Croydon in flames on August 8, and decided to drive straight to the safety of his home in the hills. Not exactly Churchillian.
Today, belatedly (presumably to give him the chance to see which way the wind blows, so to speak), Barwell has distanced himself from his own local Conservative party’s pre-election pledge saying that he agrees “with them most of the time but not always”. How convenient for him: able to play buffet politics, picking and mixing the election promises he wants to break.
At least now we know where he stands on the issue of the pollution cloud that could blight Croydon: Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, who previously worked for tax avoiding multi-millionaire Lord Ashcroft, and who was elected with votes from people opposed to an incinerator, now says he is favour of an incinerator.
According to Tory councillors in Sutton, who oppose the siting and building of the incinerator in their borough, last night’s Croydon meeting will ensure that Viridor will be unveiled next Monday as the preferred bidder to build and manage the incinerator on Beddington Lane.
The local indignation and anger about this decision is likely to create a stink which will pollute local Croydon and Sutton politics for a decade, with planning permission now necessary before operation begins in 2014.
The Croydon Greens have been campaigning against this scheme since 2008. Today they said, “What we have witnessed over the last three years is a process where the concerns, fears and demands of the people in Croydon have not been heard – at any stage of this consultation.
“Big business has been calling the tune with elected politicians dancing by their side attempting to give the semblance of democracy but it is the poorer communities – without a voice – who will suffer.”
Here’s our recent coverage on the incinerator: