POLL: Should Croydon Council stop the incinerator?

What do you, Inside Croydon’s loyal reader, want your council to do about Sutton’s plans to build a waste incinerator right next to Croydon, on the Beddington Farmlands Metropolitan Open Land site?

Micawber-like, Croydon Council had hopes that "something will turn up" in the Judicial Review. Is now the time for action by Tony Newman's council?

Micawber-like, Croydon Council had hopes that “something will turn up” in the incinerator Judicial Review. Is now the time for action by Tony Newman’s Labour council?

Do you want Croydon Council to back the £1 billion 25-year deal with private industrial contractors Viridor?

Or do you want them to cancel their part of the contract, and to put pressure on Merton, the other Labour-controlled local authority on the South London Waste Partnership, to do the same?

In short, do you want them to do the right thing?

Today, we are launching our own online poll, so that the politicians who run our corner of south London can be in no doubt about what the borough’s residents want them to do. After all, when they wanted your votes and needed your votes in May, they even made a promise about it.

Earlier this year, Tony Newman and Croydon’s Labour group took control of the Town Hall for the first time in eight years, with a manifesto that claimed to be “Ambitious for Croydon”.

Newman’s Croydon Labour manifesto said that they opposed the building of an industrial plant waste incinerator at Beddington Lane. Many people will have voted for Labour as a result of that policy.

Some residents, particularly in the north of the borough, including the previously Tory-held Waddon ward, were angry that the Conservatives had been elected in 2010 on a clear promise to prevent any incinerator being built “in or on the borders of Croydon”. Once elected, the Tories broke that promise and all voted in favour of building just such a waste incinerator.

Croydon Tories' incinerator pledge from 2010: a promise broken soon after

Croydon Tories’ incinerator pledge from 2010: a promise broken. Will Croydon Labour break a similar promise on the same issue in 2014?

Surely Labour cannot be about to behave in exactly the same way over the Beddington incinerator?

In their 2014 manifesto, under the chapter heading “Cleaner and Greener” Newman’s Labour group  said, “Our goal is to make Croydon the cleanest and greenest borough in London.”

As Newman, and his deputy, “Clean and Green Stu” Collins, know very well, becoming London’s greenest borough will take more than a bit of fly-tipping prevention.

“Croydon Labour is ambitious to make Croydon the cleanest and greenest borough in London,” they said when they needed your votes.

“A Labour council will improve our local environment and make Croydon a more pleasant place in which to live, work, shop and visit,” Newman and Collins promised, apparently ruling out even the possibility of any industrial plant belching fumes and potentially noxious particulates over the borough for decades to come, as the Viridor deal implies.

“Croydon’s Conservative council has ignored the views of local people by … supporting an incinerator at Beddington Lane. Labour has always opposed this; a truly green council would never support the building of an incinerator that will be a potential health risk on its border, particularly one so close to residential areas.”

Seems clear enough, doesn’t it?

But since being elected, Newman and Collins have been relatively quiet in public on the incinerator issue, even though the matter has been argued in the High Court at a Judicial Review. It has been as if they were hoping that legal action by someone else would determine the future of the incinerator. Somewhat Micawber-like, they hoped “something would turn up”.

This week, that Judicial Review brought by local environmental campaigner Shasha Khan against Sutton Council’s planning decision to build the Viridor incinerator was lost.

There may yet be a legal appeal.

Now is the time for more than a few easy slogans and cheap T-shirts. The whole Viridor incinerator contract could be cancelled if Croydon, and their Labour mates in nearby Merton, another borough in the South London Waste Partnership, acted on their manifesto commitment and took action to pull the plug on this toxic project.

It is estimated that paying Viridor to build and run the waste incinerator will cost Croydon ratepayers at least £10 million every year for 25 years, under the contract which Mike “#WadGate” Fisher’s Tories signed up for. Meanwhile, the cancellation of a similar, as-yet-unbuilt incinerator scheme in Norfolk has proved to be much less costly in terms of compensation to the commercial contractors than the council officials there had predicted, amounting to a little more than £20 million in total.

So, people of Croydon, what do you want your council and your councillors to do?

Can anyone put a price on breathing clean air?

The poll is open for one week. Let Tony Newman and Stuart Collins know your view.

Coming to Croydon

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Broad Green, Business, Clare Hilley, Community associations, Croydon Council, Environment, Health, London-wide issues, Outside Croydon, Refuse collection, Shasha Khan, Stuart Collins, Sutton Council, Tony Newman, Waddon, Waste incinerator, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to POLL: Should Croydon Council stop the incinerator?

  1. What is the point of voting for either party if they do not represent our views when they get into power. I have people from all over Croydon contacting me very concerned about a future with an incinerator right on top of us – we are one of the most densely populated areas of Europe; it makes no sense to increase pollution locally.

  2. The Labour Council are in a difficult position on this. The previous Tory administration seems to have got the contract well and truly tied up, so that withdrawal by the Council leads to huge penalties. They also imposed secrecy conditions, so the public (who are paying) don’t even know what the detailed terms of the contract are, and councillors can’t tell us.

    The Labour Group on the Council opposed the incinerator when in opposition, but by the time the May 2014 elections came along things had progressed so far that cancellation of the contract was never going to be easy. Labour specifically did NOT promise cancellation in the election campaign.

    However I sincerely hope an opportunity comes along (perhaps in relation to the court case) which changes the dynamics and gives an opportunity for the incinerator to be scrapped. I also hope the Labour Group are taking counsel’s opinion at all relevant stages about any opportunities to kill the scheme off, without having to pay “little more than £20 million”.

    • So that’s the official Labour position, then, David? Pragmatism over principles?

      Those who voted Labour in May didn’t vote for a continuation of Conservative policies.

      Yet that is what is being offered here, by an administration which is over-dominated by council officials who, entrenched in their positions, deny them access to legal documents and contracts, and determined to continue with the practices and policies which they designed.

      It highlights how an “ambition” to be London’s greenest borough is not worth the T-shirts the cheap slogans are printed upon.

      • The views I expressed are those I hold as an individual – and someone who has supported the Stop the Incinerator campaign almost from the outset. I very much agree with Charlotte Davies that the Council should be trying to support Shasha Khan and exposing the terms of the contract. Because of the delicate legal position we don’t know fully what the Council is trying to do at the moment, but no doubt we can all express our views to councillors to try to get the right outcome.

    • David, if Croydon Labour Party really wanted to stop this public health hazard from being built, they could start by putting some money where their mealy mouth is. Shasha Khan needs £5k to help fund an appeal against the corporate stitch up not just of him – but all of us. There’s the opportunity you sincerely hope comes along. A couple of phone calls and a quick online donation and the money will be where it’s needed.

      The other thing is whether £20 million is really the penalty that would have to be paid. Sounds like a bluff; Tony Newman should call it, and tell Viridor to fuck off.

  3. Surely the Labour Group could find a way to:
    a. support Shasha Khan instead of leaving it to residents alone to keep fighting the State and the Establishment;
    b. find ways of exposing the terms of the contract. There is something deeply undemocratic about the idea that any Authority acting on behalf of the public can enter into a contract with clauses which are secret to the public they are paid to serve. By any standards that is Government failure and designed to protect inefficient market behaviour. What was the point of all that privatisation in the 1980’s onwards if the power has just moved to inefficient private companies?

    I am sorry but both Labour and the Conservatives just sound lazy and complacent on this issue. We are talking about people’s health and quality of life for decades. We need politicians to get out there and really represent the people’s interests. There is no point sitting around discussing theories of why the UK has the widest divide between the rich and the poor; we need real action, with real outcomes. If you did that we might not be quite so cynical about politicians.

  4. Pingback: Appeal for an Appeal | STOP the South London Incinerator

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