Newman calls on Merton to honour Ken’s incinerator pledge

Tony Newman, the leader of the opposition Labour group on Croydon Council, has called on his counterpart at Merton, Stephen Alambritis, to do the decent thing and get his council to withdraw its approval of the south London incinerator planned for Beddington Lane.

Tony Newman: a good deal for Merton is a blow to the health of hundreds of thousands of fellow Londoners

Tony Newman: a good deal for Merton is a blow to the health of hundreds of thousands of fellow Londoners

Commercial waste burners Viridor have a 25-year, £1 billion contract on the table to build and manage the incinerator on behalf of the South London Waste Partnership – the Tory-controlled boroughs of Kingston and Croydon, plus Sutton, which is under the less-than-environmentally friendly LibDems, and Merton, where Alambritis’s Labour group has a majority.

The Conservatives in Croydon were elected in 2010 on a manifesto pledge to oppose the incinerator, which they promptly broke.

Tonight sees the final planning meeting for approval of Viridor’s scheme at Sutton Council – the Beddington Lane site is just over the borough boundary from Croydon in Sutton – with a recommendation from that borough’s  officials for approval.

But Newman today said, “I call on my colleagues in Merton to re-think their support for the incinerator.”

Mindful of the prevailing winds that would send smoke and fumes from the Beddington incinerator over large swathes of northern Croydon, and mounting evidence from respected bodies such as the World Health Organisation about the long-term health risks of burning waste in built-up areas, Newman said, “It may look like a good deal for the people of Merton, but it would be a massive blow to the health of generations of people in Croydon and areas to the east of the incinerator.

“I would remind my colleagues in Merton of the London Labour party manifesto last year, when Ken Livingstone was running for Mayor, when he pledged to scrap the incinerator plans.”

Dope testing: merton council leader Stephen Alambritis posing with the disgraced drug runner, Linford Christie at an event last year

Dope testing: Merton council leader Stephen Alambritis posing with the disgraced drug runner, Linford Christie, right, at an event last year

Stephen Alambritis is a colourful, high-profile figure in London politics. He is a qualified FA football referee who went to school with James Bond … well, Pierce Brosnan. Not all Alambritis’s associations are always well measured, such as when he was party to having young children from his borough pose for pictures with the convicted drugs cheat, Linford Christie.

But the Merton councillor may be the anti-incinerator campaign’s last hope to pull the plug on the deal, as even the most dedicated anti-incinerator campaigners are admitting to themselves that it would take the skills of a 007 agent to kill off the incinerator if Sutton grants planning permission tonight.

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