Sutton Council has been in touch, ahead of next Wednesday’s Standards Committee, which is supposed to look into the matter of a £275,000 “gift” from the charity arm of incinerator operators Viridor to a Sutton church which is often used by members of the local LibDems.
According to a press officer at Liberal Democrat-run Sutton Council, there is nothing to investigate about the circumstances of this most generous gift from Viridor Credits, to a church frequented by John Drage, a sometime member of the South London Waste Partnership, which just happened to award a £1 billion contract to operate a waste incinerator in the Beddington area of Sutton.
Inside Croydon is happy to put the record straight. Divine providence is clearly a marvellous thing.
Sutton Council has become so inured to mislead and deceive the public over what it has planned for Beddington that its press office is very careful never to use the word “incinerator”.
So the email arrived under the subject heading “Correction to ERF story”. We are told that ERF – an acronym which this website usually avoids – stands for “Energy Recovery Facility”. Which, of course, is nothing like the massive waste incinerator which Viridor plans to build close to the Sutton borough boundary with Croydon.
The Sutton press officer writes:
“A petition was presented to Full Council in July about an alleged breach of the Nolan Principles concerning the relationship between Viridor Credits, Viridor Limited and Sutton Council. According to the council’s petition scheme, the petition was referred to the Standards Committee.
“The background report into the petition for the Standards Committee… recommends that there is not a case for the council to set up an independent inquiry into the issue. This is because there is no evidence of council malpractice and there are other regulators better placed to investigate the workings of bodies over which the council has no control.”
Thems our italics. So Sutton Council says that there’s no grounds for an investigation into the conduct of Sutton Council.
Nothing to see here. Move along there.
The Sutton Council official, Jessica Crowe, who put together the report for the Standards Committee and found no evidence of malpractice prepared the report by interviewing John Drage, who told her he’d done nothing wrong. So no need for a troublesome investigation.
So that’s alright then.
As the Sutton Guardian is reporting: “Both Mr Drage and Viridor Credits denied wrongdoing when questioned for the report and Crowe …” Sutton Council’s commissioning chief concluded that Drage “… has therefore not participated in making any recommendations in respect of making any grants.”
Although no one’s ever suggested that Drage made any “recommendations” over Viridor grants. That was never within his power. So Drage’s been cleared of something he has not been accused of.
Sutton Council appears happy to take former councillor Drage’s word for it. So that’s alright then.
Drage is now the chairman of Sutton Liberal Democrats. He and his wife, Elaine Drage, who is still a local councillor, have admitted being lifelong friends of Colin Drummond, the chief executive and later chairman of incinerator operators Viridor, who set up another body, Viridor Credits, to take advantage of certain tax breaks available over landfill tax by distributing some of the money to selected “good causes”.
Drage, who sat on the South London Waste Partnership committee for several years, has told the local freepaper: “I have made it clear that I had nothing to with the application. They were perfectly entitled to apply, and Colin Drummond had nothing to do with Viridor Credits.”
So that’s alright then.
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