Elected councillors, the public and Inside Croydon’s DIAMOND WHEEZER were locked out of a secret session at the Town Hall last night, excluded from discussions about the risks posed by the operation of an incinerator at Beddington. What has the South London Waste Partnership got to hide?
Question: When are democratically elected Croydon councillors not allowed in the council chamber, but councillors from Sutton, Kingston and Merton are? Answer: When it’s a meeting of the South London Waste Partnership.
Last night started with a demonstration outside the Town Hall by residents of different political persuasions, wanting to tell the members of the SLWP that they don’t want an incinerator in Beddington Lane. Joining them were police and council-hired security personnel, which was another entirely unnecessary expense for this law-abiding protest.
The chair was taken by Councillor Phil Thomas, whose pink shirt matched his red face. His first task was to refuse Broad Green councillor Stuart Collins’s request that concerned members of the public in the gallery could ask questions to the committee. Thomas accused the Labour deputy leader of playing to the gallery and invited him to leave the chamber.
A banner was also unfurled in the public gallery protesting against the incinerator, which in deference to the security and council staff was removed before business commenced.
The biggest snub to the people of Croydon came when all discussions on the incinerator took place as “Part B” agenda items. This means members of the public, councillors not on the committee and the media were all cleared from the chamber so talks could take place in secret.
The Part B items included a “preferred bidder report” and a “risk update report”. This secret meeting on matters of vital public interest means we still know next-to-nothing about the proposal by preferred bidder Viridor or the financial risks of the scheme which we will all have to pay for if this £1 billion project does not run as smoothly as Thomas hopes.
The reluctance to reveal commercially sensitive information has to date been Croydon Council’s excuse for keeping much of this project secret. Surely, though, everyone should have the chance read the “Risk Update” to see how our council is risking the finances of our town and the health of generations to come?
Figures showing a stark divide in life expectancy between those living in the north of the borough and those in the south have been published this week. Men living in the most deprived areas of Croydon die, on average, 10 years younger than those in the more affluent. Across the whole country, there are only four local authorities with lower life expectancy than the 75 years in Croydon’s Selhurst ward.
Opponents to the incinerator, with its emissions likely to blow in an easterly direction across the northern part of Croydon, fear that it could have a long-term impact on the health of tens of thousands of residents.
“We have been assured that it is safe,” said Mark Watson, a Labour councillor for Addiscombe of the Beddington Lane incinerator. “However the World Health Organization states that the smaller the particles emitted, the more danger they pose. No filtration system is completely perfect.
“We were assured that the incinerators built in the 1960s were safe – until they were all shut down in the 1990s because people got it wrong and realised they did pose a health risk. Even ‘safe’ levels of dioxins emitted by incinerators can bio-accumulate, causing damage to eco systems and the food chain in the long term.”
- For more information on the incinerator issue, visit the campaign website by clicking here.
- To sign the petition to oppose the Beddington Lane incinerator, click here
- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon. Not from Redhill. Post your comments on this article below. If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, email us at email@example.com
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