Shock Deferral of the Beddington Lane Incinerator: As It Happened

By - Thursday 25th April, 2013

Tom Black got more than he bargained for when he livetweeted last night’s planning meeting – and not just from the Stop The Incinerator campaign. Read our complete livetweet here

The atmosphere was tense last night at Sutton Civic Hall. The protest against the incinerator by the Stop The Incinerator campaign (whose arguments are partly laid out here) was a friendly but determined affair, featuring various placards, banners, and a comedy top hat in the shape of a chimney.

The meeting itself was a relatively dry affair, at least for the first hour. A lot of information that those in attendance already knew was distributed and explained, to little controversy. It was when the first speaker from the public – Shasha Khan, Croydon’s so-called ‘Green Knight’ (who, incidentally, was referred to in the Citizen’s first week of operations in an article about the Croydon North By-Election) sat down opposite the council and set out his stall.

 ’This decision you make tonight centres around trust.’

‘If the Lib Dems were in opposition, I believe they would be sat here, and their friends and colleagues would be in the gallery supporting them,’ he began, setting the tone for an emotional, informative, and at times bitter series of speeches. Speakers included Stuart Collins, Labour councillor for Broad Green, who told the councillors, ‘this decision you make tonight centres around trust.’ Citing studies relating to lung cancer, birth defects, and the retention of toxic compounds in fat tissue, Collins asked whether the committee would ‘trust those who have researched the dangers of incineration, or are you going to trust what you hear from Viridor?’ A former Liberal Democrat who had joined Labour because of the incinerator issue opened a fiery address with the question ‘what is in this for local people?’  Dennis Philpott spoke with the authority of a long-standing resident when he said, to applause, ‘the incinerator is not welcome here.’

There was one speaker in favour of the incinerator, however – a councillor who was ‘surprised by the lack of post’ he had received on the matter. He defended the financial benefits of the scheme, specifically the £25,000 per year that Viridor had now pledged to pay to the Community Fund, which would be most welcome. A minor spate of heckling broke out when some in the public gallery realised that this pro-incinerator speaker had not been told he’d gone more than a minute over time, while others had been informed quite quickly that it was time to wrap up.

The anti-incinerator members of the public gallery must have outnumbered those in favour of it 99-1

The councillors present seemed unmoved by the speeches but, as it turned out, were in some cases listening with concern. After ten public speeches, a statement from Viridor, and various instances of mild outrage (and one of genuine anger) the vote took place. The result was a surprise – three councillors voted for the proposal (Liberal Democrats Stanley Theed, John Leach, and Mary Burstow) and three against (Conservatives Graham Whitham and Eric Allen, along with Liberal Democrat Stephen Fenwick). Abstentions from Monica Coleman and Margaret Court (both Liberal Democrats) meant the result was a tie. John Leach, in his capacity as chair, told a room stunned into silence that he would, in keeping with tradition, not use it to further an application in the event of a tie and swiftly moved a vote for a deferral of the decision, which duly passed.

The room erupted into cheers and applause (the anti-incinerator members of the public gallery must have outnumbered those in favour of it 99-1) and it was the end of an emotional evening that I was privileged enough to record as a livetweet for the Citizen from start to finish. You can read the whole thing here.

Tom Black

Tom Black

Tom is the Citizen's General Manager, and spent his whole life in Croydon until moving to Balham in 2017. He also writes plays that are occasionally performed and books that are occasionally enjoyed. He's been a Labour Party member since 2007, and in his spare time runs an online publishing house for alternate history books, Sea Lion Press. He is fluent in Danish, but speaks no useful languages. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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