Belated congratulations to Nick Hitchens, of the Croydon Guardian, who managed to get the three Waddon councillors on the record to explain why they broke their election promises to “… oppose any incinerator being built in Croydon or on the border of Sutton”.
In 2010, the Conservative candidates for Waddon ward fought the election by dismissing claims as “Labour scaremongering” that they really planned to back a £1billion waste incinerator. When they wanted residents’ votes, Clare Hilley, Tony Harris and Simon Hoar pledged to oppose any incinerator.
But when the opportunity came last month to put that promise into practice, all three voted in favour of the Beddington Lane incinerator.
In another excursion into the Alice in Wonderland world which Croydon Council seems to inhabit, now, according to Councillors Hilley, Harris and Hoar, what they have voted in favour of is not a waste incinerator at all. Even though it is designed to burn 275,000 tonnes of waste every year, much of it brought to Beddington Lane by HGVs from across south-west London.
In 2009, Croydon Conservatives published: “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.”
But they later went further.
“Croydon Conservatives believe that incineration will never be a sensible option in this densely populated part of the country and have already made it very clear that we will not introduce an incinerator (or an incinerator by another name) anywhere in the borough whilst we are in control.” Thems our italics.
“An incinerator by another name”.
So what are Waddon’s Tories saying now, to cover up for their broken promises?
“This is not an incinerator,” Clare Hilley said, apparently having abandoned any attempt to retain any trust or credibility with the voters.
“This is an energy recovery plant,” she says. So that’s not an incinerator by another name, then?
“…and it is not being built in Croydon.” Even though emissions from the proposed waste incinerator will be released into the atmosphere and, with the prevailing winds, be cast out over Waddon, central Croydon, Norbury and Norwood, and carried eastwards towards Dulwich, Tulse Hill, Sanderstead and West Wickham.
Whatever happened to Hilley’s promise that she “will absolutely not have an incinerator in our borough or support one close to our borders”?
Now, Hilley (who works in PR, remember) says, “It depends on what you call close – it is actually closer to Broad Green.” So that’s alright then. The solemn promise that she made to the electorate of Waddon clearly counts for nothing because the incinerator at Beddington Lane is only on the borders of Croydon, and that’s not “close” at all.
“I don’t feel I’ve let anyone down,” she told the Croydon Guardian.
Tony Harris is little better. “I hate to use the word incinerator,” he says, presumably soon after he has seen his election promises go up in smoke.
“It is a heat and energy plant,” Harris says, avoiding that annoying “i” word. That wouldn’t be “An incinerator by another name” then?
At least Simon Hoar seemed to realise the political quicksand which his two Tory colleagues had waded into with their ridiculous sophistry. “Strictly speaking, yes, it does burn waste,” Hoar told the local reporter. No shit Sherlock!
Hoar continued: “The energy recovery facility,” or an incinerator by another name, “is really nothing like the old-style incinerators.”
But after extensive searching, we can find nothing in any Conservative publicity from before 2012 which made any distinction over the age of the technology to be used at what Simon Hoar admits is a plant that “does burn waste”. All we can find is the Tory promise that: “Croydon Conservatives believe that incineration will never be a sensible option in this densely populated part of the country”.
The local Green Party has described the comments by the Waddon Tory councillors as a “shameful, and quite frankly laughable, attempt to explain away, what is, in no uncertain terms, a broken promise”.
Gordon Ross, who is standing for the Greens in Sutton and Croydon at the London Assembly elections in May, explained: “In the eyes of EU regulations it is an incinerator… You can’t hide what it is – an incinerator.”
One final point: we are unsure whether this has been done as a matter of deliberate irony by the Croydon Guardian‘s advertising department (unlikely, we admit), or is just one of those things which happen sometimes with election campaigns and “unfortunate” juxtapositions.
But today, right next to Hitchens’ ballsy reporting of the Croydon Tories’ broken promises, the Croydon Guardian‘s website is carrying a splendid advertisement, paid for by the Conservative party, outlining Boris Johnson’s – errr – election pledges.
You can almost hear the cries of “Bother!” and “Bugger!” coming from the upper floors of City Hall, can’t you?
- Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
- Will Ken promise to block Beddington incinerator scheme? (insidecroydon.com)
- Councillor Hilley backs Inside Croydon crossing campaign (insidecroydon.com)
- Councils’ huge compensation bill if incinerator is cancelled (insidecroydon.com)
- You’re dung for! Coulsdon and Waddon on sludge lorry route (insidecroydon.com)