A senior Conservative councillor in Croydon has refused to answer questions about why he spent much of Saturday distributing leaflets in his ward, apparently as an overpaid delivery boy on behalf of multi-billion rubbish burners Viridor.
Simon Hoar, councillor in Waddon ward and the £43,339 a year member of Mike Fisher’s inner cabinet responsible for “community safety and public protection” (yes, the man who did such a bang-up job on the day of the riots in 2011), went door to door in his ward, pushing 12-page newsletters from Viridor through his residents’ letter boxes.
This leaflet drop comes just days before Viridor’s application to build a waste incinerator at Beddington Lane goes before , for the second time in a matter of weeks. Sutton councillors were split at the meeting last month and deferred the decision. on Wednesday eveningThe civil servants at Sutton Council are clearly very keen to push through the Viridor proposals, despite widespread, cross-party opposition in Sutton and Croydon.
Of course, the last time Hoar distributed leaflets in Waddon about the incinerator, just before the 2010 council election, it included his personal promise that he and his two Tory councillor colleagues for the ward, Clare Hilley and Tony Harris, would oppose the building of any incinerator, “in or near” the borough.
When it came to the vote, though, Hoar, Hilley and Harris and the rest of the Conservatives in control of Croydon Council backed the proposal for the incinerator, which will burn massive amounts of rubbish from four south-west London boroughs and further afield for the next quarter century.
We contacted Hoar to give him an opportunity to deny that he was distributing leaflets on behalf of Viridor.
Confirming his role in lobbying on behalf of Viridor, his terse response said that, “I think the Viridor leaflet is an excellent infosheet and lays out the full details and correct information about this important issue.” Councillor Hoar is not known to hold any particular qualifications in waste management or pollution issues.
Given Hoar’s previous incinerator leaflet’s utter unreliability, we asked him to “advise whether you believe the information in this latest incinerator leaflet is any more reliable than that which was contained in the last leaflet on this subject distributed in our ward by the Conservative party?”
Councillor Hoar did not answer this question.
We also asked Hoar to “clarify on what basis you undertook this distribution on Viridor’s behalf? Have they, perhaps, made any donations to worthy causes within the borough? Or contributed to Conservative party funds?”
Councillor Hoar did not answer this question.
There is a strong suggestion that this latest leaflet drop may be provided as evidence from Viridor that they have fulfilled requirements to properly consult the public over their plans.
With the planning meeting just a few days away, and with Sutton Council officers setting out some very restrictive rules about what subjects may or may not be raised and who may address the decisive meeting, the latest piece of publicity from Viridor – who have a £1billion 25-year public contract at stake here – contains some intriguing variations on the information that they have distributed previously.
Now Viridor says that the incinerator will generate “electricity”, when previously they had described the output as “heat energy”. They project that they will generate 26MW and say it will power 30,000 homes. Previously, they had claimed it would provide cheap power for 45,000 households.
Clearly concerned about the pollution their proposed plant will create, in the leaflets distributed by Tory Councillor Hoar at the weekend, Viridor now claim that carbon emissions will now be cut by 128,000 tonnes per year, instead of the 60,000 tonnes per year they had claimed previously. This seems to be a particularly large variation in their figures – more than double. Did they get their sums wrong before? Are these figures any more reliable this time?
One thing that this weekend showed is that the people of Waddon and of Croydon can rely upon: Conservative Councillor Simon Hoar is sure to prostitute himself and act on behalf of big business ahead of the interests and wishes of the residents who elected him.
- £1bn incinerator “replay” meeting hurriedly set-up for May 15
- Sutton official tried to influence vote at incinerator meeting
- Burnt: incinerator scheme fails to get planning permission
- Infant death rates on the rise where incinerators operate
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