The £1 billion South London incinerator, which is being constructed for operators Viridor at Beddington Lane, is fast becoming a hot issue of the City Hall elections, with political parties and candidates fighting each other to condemn the costly scheme which threatens to be an environmental disaster for more than 1 million people living near the plant.
Nick Mattey, the elected Sutton councillor who was expelled from the Liberal Democrats after he dared to allege rule breaking and corruption over his council’s conduct over the incinerator, has announced that he has joined the Green Party.
This morning, the independent councillor will be appearing in a Green Party photoshoot outside Sutton’s Civic Offices with Sian Berry, the Greens’ candidate for London Mayor.
They will be accompanied by Shasha Khan, a previous Green parliamentary candidate in Croydon North who led the unsuccessful legal challenge to the incinerator in the High Court.
Berry is expected to call for an inquiry into planning and funding issues around the incinerator – making her the second London elections candidate to do so this month. Earlier in April, Marina Ahmad, the Labour Party’s candidate for the London Assembly in Croydon and Sutton, announced that if she is elected on May 5, she would get the new Mayor of London to call-in previous City Hall decisions on the Beddington Lane incinerator.
Ahmad is challenging Tory Steve O’Connell for his London Assembly seat, and requires a 3per cent swing to Labour. O’Connell, in his role as a Croydon councillor, voted in favour of the incinerator when the then Conservative-run council gave its approval to the scheme, which is being run by a partnership of four south London boroughs.
At today’s Green event in Sutton, Berry is expected to pledge “to launch an investigation into the incinerator if she is elected”.
But that’s a pretty big “if”.
An opinion poll published on Thursday, a fortnight to go to polling day, showed that Labour’s candidate for London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is on 48 per cent (on first preferences), which is 16 per cent ahead of the Tories’ #BackZacAndCrack Goldsmith.
Green Berry is trailing a poor fourth on just 6 per cent – not enough even to make it into the second round of vote counting.
In a Green Party press release, Berry described her new member Mattey as “an outspoken critic” of the incinerator scheme. “It’s to his immense credit that he put the health of local residents above tribal loyalty to his party,” Berry said.
She highlighted how “incineration produces toxic emissions and greenhouses gases, as well as acting as a disincentive to recycling, and is by far the worst form of waste management”.
The South London incinerator, which is to be operated on a £1 billion publicly funded 25-year contract, is being built at Beddington Farmlands, two miles west of Croydon town centre. More than 1 million people live within 10 miles of the incinerator, which is due to burn 300,000 tons of rubbish per year once it begins operation in 2018–2019.
Mattey told Inside Croydon: “I resisted my expulsion from the LibDems because I wanted to carry on fighting this battle from within, but joining the Greens has been a natural next step, not least because of their long support locally for the campaign against the incinerator.
“I will sit on the council as an independent because it would be unfair to the voters who elected me to change party mid-term. But I will be seeking re-election as a Green in 2018 and I hope I won’t be the party’s only successful candidate in Sutton.”
Mattey was elected in 2014 as a LibDem councillor for Beddington North ward, which borders Croydon. The next local council elections won’t be held in Sutton until 2018. No Green candidate has ever been elected in local or national elections in Sutton or Croydon.
Today, Mattey said of his former LibDem colleagues in Sutton: “The ruling party has behaved disgracefully throughout this episode and voters won’t forgive them easily.”
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