Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New South London incinerator by stealth?

19.03.10

Press Release (immediate):

IS THE NEW GASIFICATION INCINERATOR A PLOY TO SMUGGLE THE SOUTH LONDON INCINERATOR THROUGH THE BACK DOOR?

A new gasification incinerator planned for Beddington could potentially end up being the South London incinerator leaving the wider consultation immaterial.

Green Party spokesperson Shasha Khan said:

“A separate South London incinerator appears to have been smuggled past us in a piecemeal fashion whilst our minds remain focused on the South London Waste Plan consultation.

“What we have discovered beggars belief. If this waste site is indeed separate to the South London Waste Plan, we are looking at nearly 1m tonnes of waste being transported through Beddington Lane. We estimate this will easily equate to 50,000 truck journeys(1) per year.

“Something definitely underhand is at play because one only needs to see the applicant’s web site to see that their only motivation is profit, and they reckon they have mastered the “black arts” of the planning process to push the incinerator through.”

Partner Bioflame’s home page (2) entitled “Profit from waste”, states:

“You will learn how we deliver the often black art of planning permission, environmental permission, grid connection, funding, and ultimate project delivery and be able to visit live working plant at full scale that you can bang with a hammer!”

Originally, Country Waste Recycling had permission to receive 200,000 tonnes of building waste, including asbestos and PVC, in Beddington. 40,000 tonnes of this waste was of wood origin. This was transported around the corner into the landfill site.

Shasha Khan explained:

” In September 2009 Country Waste received planning permission to increase this quantity to 350,000 tonnes of waste and to build a giant shed. However, most worryingly of all, they succeeded in acquiring permission to vary the waste type on the proviso that they would deal with the permits from the Environment Agency.”


Shasha (3) continued,

“Now Country Waste Recycling have joined forces with Bioflame to form a spin off company called Beddington Heat and Power. This new company now wants to handle 500,000 tonnes of waste, but in addition to this increase they are applying for a gasification incinerator to burn 30,000 tonnes of waste wood (4). Despite grandiose claims by waste companies, a gasification plant is the same as an incinerator. It heats the waste materials, and then burns the gases, resulting in dioxins and other pollutants escaping into the air we breathe. It’s an incinerator in disguise. A significant amount of the wood that will be burnt will have been treated with creosote, lead based paint and even arsenic.

“Beddington Heat and Power claim that there will be 3000 less lorry journeys around the corner to landfill site. However, like a conjurer they are keen for us to miss the increased number of miles covered for an additional 150,000 tonnes of waste being transported to the site.

“I am really concerned these profiteering waste contractors see Sutton and Croydon as an easy touch. They can see the area affected by the pollution is Beddington and North East Croydon. This is a relatively poor community, in stark contrast to the village of Capel, Surrey who had wealthy residents to fund a legal campaign that defeated the proposed Surrey mass burn incinerator. Indeed Surrey County Council now needs to find an alternative site to dispose of its waste. This would explain why Surrey County Council had the audacity to submit a response to the first South London Waste Plan consultation.

“If planning is granted then we are many steps closer to a waste site which is equivalent to the South London Waste Plan incinerator in size – without the need for a consultation. This application must be thrown out!”

Ends

Notes:
1) The South London Waste Incinerator will handle 480,000 tonnes of waste. If planning is approved a new waste site will handle a separate 500,000 tonnes of building waste. If it is assumed that the new South London incinerator will be built in Beddington, that equals 980,000 waste transported there.
2) http://www.bioflame.co.uk/
3) Shasha Khan founded the Stop the Incinerator campaign
4) The site will have 100,000 tonnes of wood, so they would be keen to apply for another incinerator if this application is successful

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Comment on waste firms' histories


Link to online version

Full comment to Croydon Guardian below:

The four players vying for the lucrative South London Waste Plan (SLWP) contract have not exactly covered themselves in glory in the past. These schemes are forced through despite massive local opposition. Incineration is a profitable method to dispose of waste, especially if the Government is offering a PFI credits that equate to 50% of the set up costs for an incinerator. Whilst, waste companies see their profits going up, I see cancer rates, low birth weights and lung disease going up if the Council allows this to be built. Health and environmental costs are simply being overlooked when addressing the issue of waste.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FLYTIP plan press release


03.03.10

Press Release – immediate.


Photo opp.


CROYDON GREEN PARTY PLEDGE TO ERADICATE FLY-TIPPING.


The Green Party in Croydon have come up with a six point plan, known as the ‘FLYTIP plan’ (see attached image), that they believe will eradicate fly tipped rubbish.


Croydon Green Party spokesperson, Shasha Khan, said,


“Nearly everyone knows that the Green Party wants to reduce pollution. We are principled on this issue. One automatically thinks of air pollution when addressing pollution. However, pollution comes in various forms. Fly tipped rubbish on our streets is pollution. The levels of fly tipped rubbish in some wards, particularly north of the borough, have reached intolerable levels. Croydon Council needs to take urgent steps to eradicate the blight of fly-tipping in our borough which affects our quality of life.


“A lot of the stuff that we see dumped on our streets is potentially reusable. Therefore where it is practical to do so, furniture fairs should be held annually in which residents leave their old furniture outside their house for anyone to take, and the council takes away anything left.


“But more immediately, the council can follow our six point fly-tip plan to eradicate flytipping. If Greens controlled the council we would implement this immediately.”

1/ Freephone fly-tipping hotline. Fly-tipping to be cleared within 24 hours by the Council with one call to a freephone hotline.

2/ Longer opening hours for council dumps to suit needs of residents and businesses.

3/ Yearly collection of up to 7 items of bulky waste – such as furniture, mattresses or fence panels – to be collected free (currently £10)

4/ Tackle fly-tipping through proper co-ordination of council and local police e.g. patrols, cameras, collecting information from local residents.

5/ Information notices to be displayed at fly-tipping hot spots stating the penalties for fly-tipping and how to dispose of rubbish. Households to be leafleted on how to dispose of household waste annually, with information in translation where necessary.

6/ Punishment of offenders by community service such as litter picking in Croydon parks and large fines if this is not completed and for repeated offences.


Shasha Khan continued, “We would also like to see the government apply pressure on large superstores that sell televisions, furniture and other household appliances to receive items that are no longer required. For example if you are buying a television, the retailer should be obliged to collect or receive your old one free of charge.”


Ends


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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sam Cam votes Green

On Monday, whilst visiting Windsor to view the castle - just viewing (£16 to go in!!!) - and sample the surrounds; on advisement from the Tourist Information Office, I took a short walk across the Thames to Eton College. I didn't know the Eton uniform comprised of an ostentatious tailsuit, collar and bright white shirts.....that is until I spotted groups of young men rushing from one historical building to another. You can't help but gawp when you see them in their uniforms, and its not too difficult to imagine Boris Johnson or David Cameron strolling across the road.

18 British Prime Ministers have been schooled at Eton. It breeds Prime Ministers and who knows David Cameron might be the next??

On the noticeboard outside one of the buildings I saw a poster promoting the 'House Debating' competition. Propositions for debate include:

"The House believes that the MPs' expenses scandal was a fuss about nothing."
"The House believes that the EU has done more harm than good."

The whole feel of the place reeks of the old boy network. It is hard to imagine that (call him Dave) Cameron would get any progressive ideas from Eton. Which leads to me believe that Cameron's apparent interest in green issues comes from Samantha Cameron. Indeed, it was recently revealed that she used to be - and might still be - a Green voter.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Letter on new council HQ


The volume of letters from PPC's appearing on the feedback pages is growing. Even UKIP have suddenly found their keyboard. This may explain why my letter on the bailout of the new council HQ was edited down by both the Croydon Advertiser and Croydon Guardian. Full version below:

03.10.10

Dear Editor,

The new council HQ saga stinks of the Conservatives helping out their rich developer friends. In this case its John Laing, who incidentally is on the short list to build the new incinerator under a front company called Resources from Waste. The controversy surrounding the new HQ is tricky to digest, not least because of all the acronyms involved. To summarise, the CEDC (Croydon Economic Development Company) is to receive a bail out from LEGI (Local Government Finance Initiative) – which is supposed to support businesses in deprived areas. At the same time, the Government’s PWLB (Public Works Loan Board) has provided £145m – which is effectively underwritten by the Croydon taxpayer - to finance the URV (Urban Regeneration Vehicle) which includes the new PSDH (Public Services Delivery Hub), which replaces Taberner House. The council is yet to provide an independent report showing that the existing building presents a health and safety risk. The trail is undoubtedly murky, leading voters to believe that something shady is happening behind closed doors. This is all the more so given that the number of empty office blocks in the town centre.

Additionally, Labour sensationalising the story in their literature by claiming the Tory Council “plans to build themselves a brand new luxury HQ” doesn’t help either. One assumes the council leader, Mike Fisher, is not planning to move out of his plush and spacious office at the town hall.

The worrying thing is there is no adjudicator in this deal. I contacted the PWLB to ask if they considered how the money was to be paid back and the level of risk involved? It cited the Local Government Act 2003 which states,”that a person lending money to a local authority shall not be bound to enquire whether the authority has power to borrow the money.”

Another point not being cleared up is whether the Council is to pay rent to a private company to use a publicly funded building that is occupied by public servants!

Just like the bailout for the banks, the only thing that that keeps ringing true is: ‘its socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us’.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dodgy Taxi Sevice??


Earlier in the year Croydon Green Party looked into this and put in a FOI request. We held back on sending this press release to the media because.... the local papers were also read Private Eye! However, we have now received from the Council ten lengthy documents. We are now wading through them.
1/2/2010
PRESS RELEASE immediate
CROYDON COUNCIL IMPLICATED IN ALLEGED TAXI SERVICE CONTRACT CORRUPTION
The Croydon Green Party has become aware of a worrying story involving the apparent misallocation of millions in Croydon taxpayers’ money.
A recent Private Eye article has revealed that a heavily indebted, failing minicab company without the resources to provide the requisite services has been suspiciously awarded a £6.5 million contract by Croydon Council whilst cheaper, better qualified alternative tenders were overlooked.
Five years earlier, Private Eye first reported on the questionable award of a £20 million special needs schools transport contract by Southwark Council to Olympic South, a minicab firm, replacing the existing contractor without adhering to proper tender processes and then allowing the company to begin operations without the legally required licences. The subsequent council inquiry was seriously hampered by the theft of a computer containing correspondence and emails relating to the award of the contract.
Olympic South have now been awarded another similar lucrative contract by Croydon Council, following advice from Michael Lawrence, former transport boss at Sutton Council. Private Eye notes that “senior Croydon council sources” claim better qualified and cheaper tenders were ignored and the majority of routes awarded to Olympic.
Olympic should have been excluded from consideration as the company did not have the resources to fulfil a major contract. As was the case in Southwark, Olympic were chosen in spite of the fact that the firm lacked the necessary number of vehicles and qualified staff to provide the services required and in spite of not possessing the requisite licences. Moreover, the firm recorded a loss of £565,508 last year and its balance sheet shows a deficit of almost a £1 million.
The final element to this malodorous cocktail is that Michael Lawrence, the official primarily responsible for the suspicious decision, has since left his job at Sutton council and waited a full day (30.09.09 – 01.12.10) to take up a new position as “Director of Services” at – unbelievably – Olympic South.
Commenting on these findings Shasha khan said:
“On the surface this whole episode has all the trappings of a banana republic. Upholding standards in public life is crucial to a healthy local democracy. Greater transparency in the awarding of contracts is vital. The Green Party has put in a Freedom of Information Act request, asking to see papers relating to the decision making process. If somehow undue favour has been given to Olympic South, whilst better qualified and cheaper tenders were ignored, then there will need to be a full enquiry.”
Ends

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tony Benn gives the Weatherill Lecture


The Weatherill Lecture is named after Bernard Weatherill (25 November 1920 – 6 May 2007), the former speaker of the House of Commons. He was the Conservative MP for Croydon North East between 1964-92. The Weatherill Lecture will be an annual event organsied by a group of his Croydon friends who have formed The Weatherill Society. Tony Benn's lecture was on 'Citizenship and Integrity in Public Life'. Upon entering Croydon Parish Church, the venue for the event, those attending, which numbered around 300, were given a handout. The first paragraph notes....
THE WEATHERILL SOCIETY

The newly founded Society was initiated by a group of his Croydon friends who, having attended his memorial service in Westminster Abbey agreed that all of his fine "old fashioned" principals of honesty, integrity, decency and compassion are essential ingredients of a civilized society, The Weatherill Society will promote the qualities and virtues that he personified so that future generations might share his vision and values of public service not self service.
....powerful stuff and very appropriate for these times.

Revd Canon Colin J Luke Boswell introduced Tony Benn. The Vicar highlighted that Tony Benn got his inspiration from Marx and the Bible. Mr Benn then gave the lecture. He noted the major landmarks in the history of the Houses of Parliament alongside technological advances, and related these to his life, and the life of his father, grandfather and great grandfather.

After his speech the floor was open for questions.

I put my hand up and got a chance to ask him:

You were introduced as getting your inspiration from Marx; you mentioned in your lecture you were born in 1925. If Anthony Wedgewood Benn was not born in 1925 but in 1992 - and was 18 years of age - and decided to pursue a career in politics, which political party would he join?

I heard an audible teehee from the floor. To my dismay he answered the Labour Party, but he did go on to list what Marx teaches us.

For more info: weatherillsociety@yahoo.co.uk


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Monday, March 08, 2010

Civil servants strike over redundancy scheme

I received an email (below) from Melanie Janner from the PCS Union a week ago. On my way to work I took a detour to say hello to strikers outside Lunar House (Border Agency). It was a cold morning, so well done to all those that braved the conditions to picket.

Dear Shasha

Up to 6000 Civil Servants in Croydon will be striking on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th March over changes to our redundancy scheme, the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS).

The changes will see thousands of civil servants lose thousands of pounds if they are made redundant and will significantly increase the chances of civil servants being made redundant or privatised. The changes will also allow individual government departments to set their own voluntary redundancy terms, including using mobility clauses in contracts to force staff to accept jobs in other parts of the country or lose their redundancy payments.

In the Home Office UK Border Agency where I work we already know that there are 700+ jobs being cut in Croydon in the next 12 months, if changes are made to the CSCS it is likely that more jobs will be cut or relocated out of Croydon.

Yours sincerely

Melanie Janner
PCS Union

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Why Vote Green by Shahrar Ali


A book entitled 'Why Vote Green' written by my friend and colleague Shahrar Ali has just been published. I received a copy through the post yesterday, and was 'umbled to see yours truly listed in the acknowledgements. Commissioned by Biteback publishing, the paperback is part of a series of 'Why Vote' books that explore the policies and commitments of the main political parties.
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Monday, March 01, 2010

Press release: Cycles lanes still haven't improved



19.02.10

Press Release:

OVER TWO YEARS HAVE PASSED AND STILL WE WAIT

Green Party parliamentary candidate for Croydon North, Shasha Khan, is again calling for Croydon Council to improve cycle lanes in the borough.

Shasha Khan said:

“It’s been over two years since Councillor Dudley Mead came on a cycle ride with us around the borough. He realised that cycling was good for the environment and people’s health and gave the impression after the ride that he was going to improve cycle routes. However, I am struggling to see any improvements. (1)”

Shasha Khan wrote to Councillor Mike Fisher in July 2007 asking him to join members and supporters of the Croydon Green Party on a cycle ride to show how dangerous it was to be cyclist in the borough. Councillor Fisher declined saying he “hadn’t been on his bike for years” and that “Coun Mead was the best man” to join the cyclists.

Shasha continued, “During the cycle ride, there was one specific junction, St James Park onto Windmill Road, presently, two way for cyclists and one way for cars, that caught Councillor Mead’s attention. He could clearly see the junction was an accident waiting to happen. However, over two years on, nothing has been done. (2)”

After experiencing the junction first hand, Councillor Dudley Mead advised the council officer David Wickens, who accompanied the cyclists on the day, to consult TFL to improve the junction.

Shasha Khan said:

“I am happy to show Councillor Mead the dangers of cycling around Croydon again.

“The Conservatives give the impression that they are ‘green’ but the reality is somewhat different. A cycling Mayor of London doesn’t automatically mean that people in Croydon are also going to get on their bikes. What will lead to an increase in cycle journeys are safe cycle routes but we get instead is ill thought out stunts like “Cycle Fridays” (3), cuts in the cycling budget (4) and apparent good intentions which are not acted upon.”


Ends

Notes:

1) Picture attached to this email from your original piece.
2) You tube link of the junction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLsloDzYZ9g
3)
3) http://www.london.gov.uk/view_press_release.jsp?releaseid=23132
Despite huge amounts of publicity, the Mayor’s “Cycle Fridays” have been an abject failure. There have been far more marshalls and press officers present at Cycle Friday events than people cycling to work for the first time.
4) http://london.gov.uk/view_press_release_a.jsp?releaseid=19796



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FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR