Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Letter on radioactive waste


Dear Editor,

The Conservative Council continues to adopt a strategy of denying everything and not letting the cat out the bag when it comes to the incinerator. In spite of this, it is reassuring that they recognise that radioactive waste has no place in a waste burner. Yet, it still doesn’t explain why “radioactive waste” appears with “hazardous waste” on the procurement contract issued by the London Borough of Croydon on behalf of the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP).

Equally, their response is somewhat different to their Liberal Democrat counterparts in Sutton, who are also part of the SLWP. At a recent meeting in Beddington Village, the Lib Dem cabinet member for the Environment was not as forthright with regard to radioactive waste not being part of the mix. When asked about the prospect of radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear reactors being sent to this new South London site, he simply couldn’t say one way or the other.

One assumes that New Forest District Council also denied any possibility of radioactive waste from nuclear reactors ever ending up at their incinerator in Fawley. Nevertheless, contaminated lubricants and oils from the Sellafield Nuclear facility could now arrive in truckloads as early as the spring.

Influential nuclear lobbying firms, with strong connections with former Labour ministers, are pressing hard to lower the levels of safety for radioactive waste from power stations. For example, presently there are 80,000 tonnes of contaminated or irradiated graphite in the UK. Power and waste companies will instinctively look to dispose of this type of waste in the most profitable way possible, and burning this material is ‘win/win’ as far they are concerned.

What it all boils down to is this: can local people trust the authorities to take decisions that place the health of people before profits?

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Candidates in 'anti gay' spat

Gordon Ross' report on the Croydon Area Gay Society hustings has caused a bit of a stir, at least with UKIP candidate Ralph Atkinson. A Croydon Advertiser reporter contacted us saying their paper had received a letter from Mr Atkinson. In the letter he stated that we (Croydon Green Party) were calling him "anti gay". As a result of the reporter's investigation, this piece appeared in the Croydon Advertiser. Gordon is absolutely right, we have nothing to apologise for.

A clarification: Bernice Golberg is the candidate for Croydon Central. Gordon is standing in Croydon South.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Members coming, and the odd one going

Membership in terms of numbers for the Croydon Green Party has gone from strength to strength - we are now at record levels. That's why we were a little puzzled to hear that the Tories in Norbury had put out a leaflet noting a Green Party council candidate had defected. After a little investigating we found out the member who has jumped ship is the Crystal Palace based Karen Moran, and she is based in Bromley.....NOT CROYDON! Clearly the Conservatives in Croydon see us as a threat otherwise why put out such a leaflet??

Her reason for leaving the Green Party was:

"Frustration in Green Party being unable to afford to put out regular local leaflets."

Occasionally it may be difficult to fund campaigns in the Green Party because unlike other parties we don't accept donations from corporates. Not only that, the ethical and environmental background of all our donors is screened. This is why the Green Party is not in the pockets of big business. Given the Tories are bankrolled by the likes of Lord Ashcroft - he of non dom status for tax purposes - I guess Karen may now have a bit more money for campaigning in Crystal Palace. I wish her well.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Gordon Ross selected for Croydon South

Croydon Advertiser and Croydon Guardian

press release here
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bottled water served at council meetings

Local Green Party candidate Chris Sciberras asked a cuddly yet interesting question at the last full council meeting. It certainly tickled the writer of 'The Insider' column in the Croydon Advertiser.

The question asked was:

'Would Croydon Council set an example of sustainable practice by replacing bottled water with tap water at all council meetings and other events?'

The cabinet member for 'resources and customer services' replied by saying that it wasn't possible because glasses of water are more easily spilt on electrical equipment. Hmmm.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Croydon Advertiser: The Big Debate

Link to online version of story.

Finally, Shasha Khan will be fielding questions on behalf of the Green Party.

He said: "I feel that the main three parties in this country represent a very narrow choice and having the Greens on the panel gives voters a genuine alternative to grey politicians who have run out of ideas."

NB. The 19 candidates that Croydon Green Party put up in 2006 really made a difference. We polled over 10,000 votes and hence earned our right to sit on this panel.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Radioactive waste: two bits of coverage and two responses

Croydon Council have responded to my concerns about radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear reactors being shipped to the proposed South London Incinerator in the usual manner. Conservative Councillor Phil Thomas' response is somewhat different to his Lib Dem counterpart in Sutton, Councillor Colin Hall, who conceded that radioactive waste was part of the waste stream at the recent Beddington Village Hall meeting. In fact, Councillor Hall could not say for certain that waste from future decommissioned nuclear reactors would not be part of the mix.
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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Incinerator meeting at Beddington Village Hall

Sutton Lib Dems: Councillor Colin Hall and Tom Brake MP

Sutton Lib Dems called a meeting with the residents of Beddington Village yesterday. The local Tories, who sat at the back of the hall, have positioned themselves as defenders of the Beddington village community, and used yesterday as an opportunity to attack the Lib Dem panel: Tom Brake MP and Councillor Colin Hall (Environment), on the incinerator issue. They kept on asking why the Lib Dem ward councillors were absent from the meeting and how Brake and Hall should convey the residents anger to their "counterparts"; at which point I couldn't control my frustration and asked the Tories to speak to their "counterparts" in Croydon for accusing me of scaremongering every time I raised awareness of this crucial issue in Croydon.

This whole incinerator contravesry is another example of how the main three parties are void of any principle. Opposition Lib Dem, Tory and Labour politicians position themselves as against the South London Waste Plan, whilst just a few hundred yards across the borough boundary, their elected counterparts are in favour of it!

Some key points made:

1. Rising landfill tax - a stick being used by the government that faces massive EU fines if the percentage of waste sent to landfill is not "reduced to 35% by 2020" - was given as the main reason why an alternative solution was needed.
2. Councillor Hall suggested that gasification was "similar as incineration"
3. The four contractors on the shortlist for are:
  • Resources from Waste - which seems to be a front for John Laing
  • Veolia - Croydon's present contractor
  • Viridor - Sutton's present contractor
  • Waste Recycling Group - a Spanish operator.
4. The only technology not on the table is an "old fashioned mass burn incinerator"
5. An additional consultation has now commenced which covers 8 new sites, including Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. These have been suggested via the second consultation. However, Tom Brake MP all but said this was just a legal requirement so that a future challenge was not made to the South London Waste Partnership.
6. Councillor Hall said that radioactive waste was part of the mix but from memory referred to "microwaves and televisions". When I asked him about waste from future decommissioned nuclear reactors, he could not say one way or the other.

Latest consultation

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Will radioactive waste be sent to the new South London incinerator?

Following revelations such as this:

Croydon Green Party sent this press release out to the papers.

Press release: immediate

Research undertaken by Croydon Green Party shows that radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear reactors may well be incinerated at the new South London Waste Site.

Croydon Green party spokesperson Shasha Khan said:

“The results from the second consultation show that there is little appetite for an incinerator. Yet unbelievably, Croydon Council seems determined to press ahead. People are quite rightly asking why this is. The answer may well be the results of the little known first consultation that only had 41 respondents to the full questionnaire. (1)”

Figures unearthed by the Green Party appear to suggest that the first waste plan consultation was kept low key and the result was that waste companies had a higher number of submissions and thus undue influence on its outcome.

Waste companies, Biffa, Viridor, Cappagh Group, Sterecycle and Rolfe Judd all submitted responses to the public consultation (2).

As a result, waste companies managed to achieve their desired outcome - a procurement contract that includes hazardous waste; but worryingly, radioactive waste from nuclear reactors comes under the umbrella of hazardous waste (3).

Commenting on this, Shasha Khan continued:

“This latest revelation suggests to me that this consultation is designed to conclude with an incinerator which operates with as many different waste streams as possible. The South London Waste Partnership, which includes Croydon Council, is not genuinely consulting Croydon; rather it is navigating us all towards a pre-determined outcome under the guise of a public consultation.

“The first consultation was poorly publicised and our findings indicate that this may well have been deliberate. Because there were only 41 respondents to the full questionnaire (1), the opportunity was there to achieve outcomes that favoured waste contractors, including those that incinerate radioactive waste.

Local Green Party member and expert on nuclear power Jim Duffy (4) said, “The nuclear industry has been lobbying for lower standards of protection to apply to low level radioactive waste, principally driven by the huge amount of waste arising now, and in the future, from decommissioning old reactors. Some materials, for example concrete, will go to landfill, but some for incineration, for example graphite from the reactor cores, oil and protective clothing.

Shasha Khan continued:

“In the first consultation there were a series of questions about what should and shouldn’t be handled by the waste site, including hazardous waste. We have yet to find a single resident who wants this new plant to manage hazardous waste. It’s inconceivable that a local resident would be happy for trucks containing hazardous waste to thunder through their neighbourhood on to a new waste site. Yet, through leading questions and a disproportionate number of waste companies contributing to the consultation, a majority of the respondents amazingly answered yes to this question. (5)

Attempts to use the Freedom of Information Act to get the South London Waste Partnership to disclose who the “residents” were who said “yes” to hazardous waste have so far been unsuccessful. The South London Waste Partnership is citing data protection law as the reason they will not disclose the names and addresses of these individuals.

“Research shows that hazardous waste fetches the highest price in the waste hierarchy so it’s not surprising that waste companies want this type of waste to be included in the contract.

“If this council had publicised the first consultation in the same manner as the second consultation, there is no doubt in my mind the incinerator option would not be on the table. Therefore, the council needs to explain why the initial consultation, which triggered the waste burning solution, did not receive front page coverage in its own newspaper. Was there an agenda set?

“It seems the council and the government is representing the wishes of the waste companies rather than the people of Croydon. Naturally, these companies are after the most profitable solution rather than the safest solution. The authorities need to adopt a zero waste strategy because if the market was left to decide then health and environmental considerations would simply be excluded.”


(1) http://www.sutton.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=4647&p=0
Sutton and Croydon Green Party submitted a 5000 word document to the first consultation
(2) Attachment
(3) http://croydongreens.blogspot.com/2009/07/incinerator-procurement-contract_07.html
(4) On 27th Jan 2010, Jim Duffy was invited to the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change to contribute to the new nuclear power consultation.
(5) Attachment – Question 5

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Report from CAGS Hustings. 2nd of February 2010.

Report from CAGS Hustings. 2nd of February 2010.

The Croydon Area Gay Society (CAGS) held a hustings meeting on 2/2/2010 at “the Brief “ pub in Croydon.

The chair and audience put questions to the panel on a variety of LGBT and other social issues.

The panel consisted of:
Gordon Ross, Green Party PPC for Croydon South.
Ralph Atkinson, UKIP PPC for Croydon Central.
Jane Avis, Labour PPC for Croydon South.
Jason Hadden, Conservative PPC for Croydon North.
Gerry Jerome, Liberal Democrat PPC for Croydon North.

The chair asked questions that had been submitted by the members of CAGS, and the SAGS audience also asked questions.

Gordon gave the Green Party’s stand and policies on the issues, and got a good response from the audience. Some of the other candidates were less forthcoming over their parties policies, and never gave a definitive answer to some of the questions.

The panel were asked, will you defend the Human Rights Act ?
Should religious groups be exempt from human rights legislation ?

The Green, Labour and Lib Dem candidates all support the Human Rights Act.
The conservative and UKIP candidate both wanted the UK to withdraw from all EU Human Rights legislation, and to allow religious groups to discriminate against gays.

Gordon Ross for the Greens argued that Human Rights are universal, should apply to everyone across the EU, with no exceptions.

The UKIP candidate railed against the EU, Human Rights legislation, social policy, public schooling and the NHS. He said that we were better off before we had an NHS, calling it “collectivist”.

There was an audible gasp from the audience when the UKIP candidate said schools should be allowed to discriminate against gay people on religious grounds.

The panel were asked, what is your view on assisted suicide ?
The Green and Labour candidate both have had personal experience of having to face this issue with a loved one, and support the move to legalisation, along with the Lib Dem candidate.
The Conservative and UKIP candidates both oppose assisted suicide.

There was some discussion about marriage versus civil partnership.
Gordon said that the Greens would open up civil partnership and civil marriage to partners of both same sex and opposite sex relationships.
The candidates for the other parties didn’t seem to support this move, or didn’t seem to have a view on the issue at all.
The panel were asked what would you do for Croydon locally if you were elected ?
Gordon for the Greens said we would help to develop the local economy, increase local jobs, keep open local post offices, doctors surgeries and local shops.
The other candidates talked about more national issues, even though the question was about Croydon.

The panel were asked what experience they had of the Trans-community?
None of the panel apart from the Green and the UKIP candidate had any experience of transgender people. UKIP have an MEP who is transsexual.

The Greens are committed to giving protection under Equality legislation to transgender, transvestite and intersex people.

The panel were asked if they were married or in a legal partnership ?
They were asked if they would support the rights of single people ?

Gordon stated that Green Party policy was for equality regardless of relationship status, and so yes, we would defend single people against discrimination.

The Conservative candidate talked about the family, and said that two parents were better than one. The Labour candidate defended single parents.

During the evening the UKIP and Conservative candidates both continuously interrupted the Labour candidate, and shouted her down. She appeared to be visibly distressed. At times it was quite heated, and uncomfortable.

The meeting ended with thanks to the candidates from the chair and audience.
CAGS said they had enjoyed the meeting and hoped to have hustings meetings again.

The Green Party would encourage local groups to have hustings meetings, so you can find out what your various candidates stand for. You might be surprised.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Letter on 'more police' full version

A letter on police nestled in the middle of a busy letters page. Unfortunately, the Croydon Guardian did not publish the full version of my letter:


Dear Editor,

I have just signed the online petition for more police for Croydon at www.croydon.gov.uk/more police and I would urge others to do the same. Your ‘Spare us a copper’ article correctly identified that police are allocated using borough wide data, and because “Croydon contains extremes of deprivation and affluence” we end up with an unfair deal. The imbalance of wealth between the north and south of the borough distorts the data. Pockets of poverty are more likely to be associated with higher levels of crime. A recent report in this paper highlighted that over a quarter of north Croydon children are living in poverty.

Labour and Conservative politicians from every tier of government support the campaign for more police. In fact, the call for more ‘bobbies on the beat’ is ubiquitous just before an election. Which begs the question: If there is universal agreement on this issue, why aren’t there more police around, not just for Croydon, but for all the boroughs? All sections of our society want more community policing: the elderly, local businesses and even young people.

The answer must be to do with spending priorities. For example, unlike other parties, Greens would choose not to spend £96 billion on renewing trident; £4.5 billion a year on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; or the estimated £5.3 billion on ID cards. Arguably, they do not make us safer. Moreover, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made the world less safe.

Surely the money would be better spent on ensuring the borough has more police officers on the beat and invested in programmes which take families out of poverty.

Yours sincerely,

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Standing up for what matters