Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Have Labour voters been taken for granted?


Press Release:


This evening the local Green Party has learnt that Deputy Mayor Sir Edward Lister has given the all-clear and backed Sutton Council’s decision to grant planning permission to build a waste incinerator in Beddington.

The plans still have to go before the Secretary of State before any building can begin. However, today’s decision is very disappointing.

Commenting on the decision, Shasha Khan said,

“This is a rubbish decision for a rubbish incinerator by a rubbish Mayor who is holidaying on the other side of the world. This decision will affect the health of tens of thousands of people in London and for this decision to be made while Boris Johnson is away just displays the arrogance of the political elite. In ten years’ time, local elected people will ask, what the hell were they thinking back in 2013 to approve a 302,000 tonnes capacity incinerator with a 25 year contract when other boroughs earn money from recycling?

As Secretary of the Stop The Incinerator, I had already spoken to the campaigns’ legal team given this was a possible outcome. We had pre-empted this decision and will have further discussions with our solicitors about taking this decision to judicial review.

Through the legal team, powerful reasons to reject the application were identified. The application failed to meet London strategies on waste, energy and climate.

I personally feel Croydon Labour Party collectively should have mobilised, just like it does a week before an election, and got 20,000 signed objection letters sent off to the Mayor of London. Labour councillors should have knocked on doors because the case officer had already explained that the Mayor would gauge the level of opposition when making his decision. If the case officer had an additional 20,000 letters piled on her desk she would maybe have taken an alternative view.  Greens have done the best we can with limited resources to collect letters of objection.

It is the Labour voter who lives north of the borough that will suffer with poorer health once this incinerator is built. The wards of Broad Green, West Thornton, Thornton Heath, Selhurst and Bensham Manor are adjacent to the site, and each of them has sitting Labour councillors with massive majorities. These Labour councillors have taken their voters for granted. I would feel ashamed if I was a councillor and I hadn’t gone out to collect letters of objection.

To the perceptive observer  it appears, privately, Croydon Labour don’t mind if the incinerator is built because that is the winning ticket to take back Waddon ward, crucial to Labours’ strategy  to win back control of Croydon council in 2014. They can now knock on doors in Waddon and tell voters that the Tory council has built an incinerator a short distance from where they live. Their opposition has been token and eleventh hour.

Local Greens have pledged £2000 to the Stop The Incinerator legal fund. Despite an annual income of around £30m, Labour have already told the Stop The Incinerator campaigners that they will not contribute financially towards a judicial review. Maybe this is because they are not really against incinerators in principle, unlike the Green Party. If you look across the border in Merton, the Labour Party is in favour of the application.

In actual fact, Stop The Incinerator campaigners are personally out of pocket because they have had to pay for legal costs. Legal work was instructed because Croydon Labour said they would organise a fundraiser at the start of summer to help pay the bills. This fundraiser was put back until September, September is just over two weeks away and we still haven’t heard a word about their event.”

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