A veteran councillor in Sutton is demanding a “proper investigation” into the dodgy-looking business affairs of the council-owned heating network, SDEN.
In a matter of a few weeks, a council meeting was told how the business plan of Sutton Decentralised Energy Network Ltd was “dishonest at best, fraudulent at worst”.
Then SDEN’s long-standing managing director quit, somewhat abruptly, just after it was announced that accountancy body CIPFA had been called in to conduct what is supposed to be an independent investigation.
According to independent councillor Nick Mattey, SDEN has already cost Sutton approaching £5million.
And with only a single customer – builders Barratts and the unfortunate residents of their New Mill Quarter development where they have a monopoly supplier of heating and hot water – there is diminishingly small likelihood of the heating network ever managing to deliver the returns that the LibDems who control Sutton Council had promised.
SDEN was established to “greenwash” the planning application for the Beddington Lane waste incinerator, promising to use the energy from burned rubbish to supply hot water and heating for nearby homes and businesses. After nearly five years of SDEN being in business, the incinerator has yet to provide any energy to the heat network.
Mattey is due to meet with the investigators from CIPFA next week, when he is expected to hand over a dossier of documents which he believes points to serious wrong-doing at the council over SDEN and its obviously flawed business model.
The Beddington North councillor has been a constant whistle-blower over the shady deals done to push through planning permission for Viridor’s £210million incinerator and their £1billion contract with four south London boroughs, including Croydon.
Now Mattey has written to Sutton Council chief executive, Helen Bailey, demanding that any investigation into SDEN’s business affairs should examine every aspect of negotiations between the council and Barratts over the planning permission granted for the New Mill Quarter, which he believes was done in return for the developers signing up as customers of SDEN.
Mattey wrote, “SDEN needs to be investigated properly. What we do not need is a superficial investigation…
“What we do not want is some chummy talking shop where there is no real investigation.
“Witness statements need to be submitted so that the investigators can get to the truth: 800 homes risk being forced to bankroll yet another failing Sutton Council project unless this investigation is comprehensive
“As the council’s chief executive, you need to present the investigators [with] a documented explanation of what Sutton Council officers did to persuade Barratts to sign up to SDEN. Then you should provide the investigators [with] an explanation into why, after several years of totally appalling service from SDEN, Barratts have not kicked SDEN off the New Mill Quarter.
“Normally, a firm like Barratts would not want to be associated with a bunch of amateurs who have redefined the word clueless.
“But Barratts are keeping schtum. Why is this?
“I have my theories. Perhaps you can put the investigators in the picture?”
Read more: Sutton heat network director quits as fraud inquiry begins
Read more: SDEN’s business plan ‘dishonest at best, fraudulent at worst’
Read more: SDEN: A timeline of council bungling and sky-high fuel prices
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