Are Conways, who are widening Beddington Lane to make it easier for the thousands of rubbish-laden HGVs to reach the Viridor incinerator, staging a go-slow?
How can a major road be closed and the contractors not work on Saturday and Sunday, as has been the case so far on this project?
Residents and businesses in the area are becoming very concerned at the lack of progress in the £3.5million “improvements” that they were promised for road, which runs a parallel route to the Purley Way, going from Mitcham Common south to Beddington.
Even on weekdays, there doesn’t appear to be much urgency among the (small) workforce while this important thoroughfare is closed to traffic. On Wednesday this week, all appeared quiet except for two men and a digger half way up the lane.
The word “improvement” is generally understood in Sutton as a euphemism for making the road strong enough for the 400,000 tons of other people’s waste and rubbish that will come in and out the Beddington incinerator each year.
“If Sutton Council cared about residents, it could have paid the contractors to get the job done quickly,” according to Nick Mattey, the independent councillor in Beddington.
The incinerator is being operated by Viridor under a 25-year, £1billion contract to burn rubbish for the South London Waste Partnership, which includes Croydon as well as Sutton, Kingston and Merton. In recent weeks, the incinerator has been undergoing commissioning trials, with plumes of what Viridor assures the public is merely steam coming from the plant. It is due to begin full operation later this year.
The Beddington Lane closures and road works were due to have started on January 25. Yet within a few days of the “essential work” beginning (ever so slowly) on what was supposed to be a three-month project, Sutton Council was announcing that it would now take… at least four months.
Not unreasonably, since it was Boris Johnson, when Mayor of London, who effectively signed off on imposing an industrial-scale waste incinerator in the midst of a residential area, with schools and hospitals nearby, Transport for London has agreed to stump up half the cost of the “improvement” works to patch up the road.
Whether this will prove to be enough seems doubtful: Sutton originally asked Johnson for £11million to do a proper job.
When Johnson asked Sutton Council how many jobs the incinerator would create, Sutton’s response was 40. The then Mayor pointed out that to invest £11million on a road-widening scheme to create just 40 jobs was ludicrous. Sutton was forced to stump up the money itself.
No one thought of asking Viridor Environmental Credits, the charity arm of the incineration company, to direct some of its cash to the road scheme rather than lavishing their funds on improvements to church halls where Wallington’s MP, Tom Brake, and his Liberal Democrat activists have their meetings.
Sutton Council was clearly wary that, in closing Beddington Lane for several months for the benefit of Viridor’s HGVs, would not be popular with residents. So they devised a cover story.
So now Sutton is to get an environmentally friendly cycle lane, for bicyclists to enjoy a smooth and safe route right to the gates of what is potentially the biggest environmental disaster to be inflicted on south London for decades.
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