Protest over incinerator plans in council meeting

pic: Anurag Tagat

Protesters handcuffed themselves to railings in a Croydon Council meeting in protest over an appointed preferred bidder for the controversial South London Waste Partnership.

The protesters were denied access to the private discussion of the waste contract.

They then handcuffed themselves in the public gallery, before being escorted outside the town hall by security.

Shasha Khan, Green Party candidate for Croydon North, was one of the protesters. Speaking to EastLondonLines, Khan called the council’s decision to privately discuss the issue on Friday as “profoundly undemocratic.”

He said: “We needed to make a point, we needed to listen to what they were going to discuss. They have discussed locations, the amount of waste that will be saved from going to landfill, but not what is going to be built. They aren’t discussing the technology, and they won’t use the word ‘incinerator’.”

There is increasing worries among residents,  that the South London Waste Partnership between the four boroughs of Sutton, Kingston, Merton and Croydon, will build an incinerator in Beddington Lane to burn waste to produce electricity instead of sending it to landfill.

Khan added­­ the scrutiny meeting was discussing the financial side of the matter.

He said: “They look to the market, and the markets look to burn waste. They’re only looking after their shareholders’ interests.

“They made a decision that they would adjourn the meeting and call security, who threatened to get bolt-cutters to cut the cuffs.”

Dave Pettener, the second protester, said: “Only two councillors spoke up about it. The rest of them were happy to keep the discussion behind closed doors.”

Asked whether the council could be stopped from building an incinerator, Pettener, a local resident working in customer services said: “It is a billion pound contract and it goes on for 30 years or even longer, so whoever wins this contract is going to be very pleased. There’s also been a lot of lobbying going on behind the scenes.”

Other protesters outside Croydon Town Hall were members and concerned residents from local environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

Gordon Ross, Green party’s GLA candidate for Sutton and Croydon said: “The whole process has been flawed from the beginning. Public consultations have been so narrowly defined and skewed by waste companies that it’s not really been fair.”

The vote on the plan is being done by the cabinet. Even regular councillors aren’t allowed to vote on this,” he said.

Ross suggested that the whole South London Waste project should be scrapped and started again.

The council is yet to publicly reveal the appointed bidder of the waste contract.

Filmed and edited by Praveen Sundaram

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