As I cycled towards the town hall I noticed a police van just yards from the entrance to the building. Was the van stationed there for the protesters outside the town hall? What are the authorities expecting us to do?
Since the handcuff protest, the Council have installed a new turnstile system by the Reception desk. Surely this can't be a reaction to the handcuff protest?
The lobby area was already brimming full of members of the public, eager to get their points across and observe democracy in action!?! There were supporters from Save The David Lean Cinema, Save Upper Norwood Library and of course the Stop the Incinerator campaign.
As usual I handed in my placards at Reception, upon entering the building. However, this time a very tall broad shouldered man was there to meet me at the new turnstile, flanked by security. He asked me if I had any handcuffs in my bag? I didn't have any handcuffs in my pannier but I explored his reason for asking. He then advised me that if I attended to do anything to disrupt the meeting I would be arrested. I was taken aback. I pointed out that I wasn't planning on disrupting the meeting and that I had a right to peaceful non violent protest.
The exchange continued for a little while longer, during which I established he was Head of Security at the Council, and that he was absent on the evening of the handcuff protest. He made it absolutely clear to me that I would be arrested if I attempted anything, and upon request produced several pages of relevant public order law from his pocket. In addition, he pointed out I would have been arrested if he was in the building at the handcuff protest.
After giving him assurances that I wouldn't disrupt the meeting I was allowed in.
The meeting was fairly predictable, Labour councillors making speeches opposing the South London Waste Plan and incineration; Tories pointing out Labour's hypocrisy and also sidestepping every question asked by Green Party members from the public gallery.
LOST effectively their Waddon seats and probably control of the Council at the next local elections in 2014. There is no doubt Labour will remind voters constantly how promises made by the Tory councillors Hoar, Harris and Hilley in that ward were broken.
WON the opportunity for the public to see the Waddon councillors ignominy when asked to raise their hands to vote for the South London Waste Plan. The show of hands was a specific request by Labour leader Councillor Newman. Labour can also look forward to winning Waddon, and if all other things are equal - the Council. Privately, they know their return to power is that much nearer after last night.
LOST all credibility because, as the Tories rightly pointed out, they had only got involved in the process at the eleventh hour when they realised votes could be won. Also accusations of hypocrisy were manifold, including Labour councillors in Merton voting for the Plan and Malcolm Wicks MP actually forcing through an incinerator in Belverdere when Energy Minister - despite near unanimous local opposition.
LOST the vote, although our campaign and petition of 900 signatures opposing the South London Waste Plan (submitted by Gordon Ross) shows we are the third party in Croydon.
WON, in that the handcuff protest raised the profile of the issue and the lack of transparency.
LOST any anonymity I have/had. Suddenly, I am a marked man! To be expected I guess. However, I also felt the Mayor deliberately chose to disrupt my supplementary question very early on for 'time', thus causing me to miss crucial lines - something he didn't do to others.
There have always been two parts to this incinerator saga. The South London Waste Plan is now adopted in Croydon. The focus of attention is now the planning application itself.
Tags croydon, greenparty