Philip Sheppard writes about our neighbours in Sutton.
Sutton, a leafy borough in South-West London, overshadowed by its larger neighbour to the East, Croydon, and often forgotten about by most people who do not know our capital city well. Politically, this is probably London’s most interesting borough. It was one of the few boroughs to have voted to leave the European Union in 2016, but since 1986 has been run effectively as a one-party state by the most liberal enlightened party currently in British politics (not).
The “Liberal Democrats”, scarred from the 2015 defeat of their darling Paul Burstow in Sutton and Cheam, are covering up one of the biggest scandals in Sutton politics during their rule of over thirty years, namely the construction of a huge refuse incinerator by Viridor in the Beddington North ward, close to the border with Croydon. Despite huge local opposition (the Lib Dems lost three councillors in Beddington North in the 2018 Local Elections to anti-incinerator independents) and a cost of £205 million to the taxpayers of four South London boroughs (including our native Croydon), the construction of the incinerator still went ahead in 2015.
Evidence had emerged of deals being done behind the scenes by a former Liberal Democrat councillor, who had a special relationship with the former Viridor CEO Colin Drummond, whose company landed the approximately £1 billion contract to build it. John Drage was a lifelong friend of Drummond’s and is also one of Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom Brake’s main sponsors, along with his wife, Elaine. Incredibly, in order to encourage local support for the incinerator, Viridor donated around £275,000 to the Holy Trinity Church in Wallington in 2015, representing the third highest donation for any religious building in the country at the time. This obviously failed to garner the support of any local people, including fellow Lib Dem councillors. The then-Beddington North Councillor, Nick Mattey said: “Residents in my ward have been questioning why Holy Trinity Church in the middle of Wallington should get more money than any project in Beddington.”
This link, combined with Brake’s previous opposition to incinerators and the fact that the Sutton-based environmental charity Ecolocal remained strangely silent about the incinerator and its potential impact meant that the incinerator could be constructed without much scrutiny (apart from at the local election in 2018).
All in all, this shows the rot that goes on in the Sutton administration, which should not be surprising given the sly nature of the Liberal Democrats nationally. The sooner we can kick these charlatans out, the better.