I started this blog with a view to publishing somehing every week and for reasons i cant really go into i had to stop publishing it (but it is still being written and at some point will be blogged) - however i think this is important enough to publish and for some reason i can't get into the No2 Incinerator Blog. Blooming technology!
So below is a transcript of what i said at the Incinerator Meeting at Leeds Civic Hall on Tuesday 29th August.
And for the record Cllr Grahames response was "You have shown your true colours here tonight Sarah" actually that isnt true. I started to campaign against Cllr Ron Grahame on Friday 16th December 2011 at approx 11.30am. This was the day he voted through the cuts in the Fire & Rescue Service and he demonstrated he did as he was told by the labour party. I did tell him to his face rather loudly that i was going to do it so he really cant feign suprise.
Since then on many occasions he has said that he fire service is already stretched to breaking point and of course the area he alleges to represent is very high risk, with high rise buildings and old poor quality housing that is at great risk of fire.
So i do not doubt he will oppose the incinerator even though he whimpers on about "predetermination" all the time and then say the same to my community as he did to the fire fighters - "sorry boys i have been whipped" - Anyway below is what i said..................
We are here tonight a diverse group of people with a common goal. To prevent the building of an energy from waste incinerator in Cross Green, Inner East Leeds. Some of us have been opposing this for many years others have been slower to realise that this monstrosity is wrong. It is to be built in the most deprived area in Leeds, which culminates in people dying 10years younger than somebody in Harewood in the north or Otley in the west.
This project is wrong in so many ways – its is the wrong finance model (private finance Initiative money ), it is to be sited in the wrong place, close to schools, a community park and densely packed housing, but most important of all it is the wrong technology. A technology that is in mine and many others opinion not safe, a potential danger to human health and it will have a long term negative impact on the environment.
As Councillor Khan at the last Richmond Hill forum prevented me from speaking on the subject of nano particles and their effect on health citing the fact i was not qualified in chemistry I shall leave the matter of the dangers of technology like this to people better qualified to speak on the matter than myself. In fact be to be honest my knowledge of private finance initiatives is learned from books and reading newspapers so I shall leave that topic again to people more able to speak and articulate on the subject. All I will say is that the commodifcation of public services is wrong and as a lifelong socialist goes very much against my natural grain.
The fashion at the moment is to see things in shades of grey, and that in part is the problem. We have councillors in Burmantofts and Richmond Hill who are submissive and do as they are told, that is they respond well to a good whipping by the labour party. Occasionally they may throw an inconsequential teenage strop and rebel (like facilitating this meeting tonight or walking out of the council chamber instead of voting ) but the bottom line is they know what side their political bread is buttered and will do as they are told when the labour party’s chips are down. And the way the local councillors treat us is appalling. Democracy in Richmond Hill is dead, the only truly open public meeting that we had has now been closed by labour – probably because they couldn’t stand the heat from it. and because Mark Dobson promised me they weren’t going to close it. I live in this area and fortunately labour can’t pick and choose their constituents, although the procurement process was started by the liberals and conservatives I am sad to say that now the labour party with its overwhelming majority will it seems happily take on full responsibility for a £500million PFI Incinerator. Had you said this to me 2.5 years ago I would have laughed and said you were wrong, Labour would not allow this to happen. As my friends and a fair few of my enemies will happily point out I do get things on occasions horrendously wrong, but I unlike labour admit my mistakes and learn from them. I will never vote labour again; I no longer trust them to tell the truth. In fact I believe that all three of our local councillors are considered suitably lowly enough to be discarded and thrown to the dogs if need be by the labour party. That is, our elected representatives are as disposable as my communities health and welfare seems to be. We in Burmantofts and Richmond Hill naively expected when labour took over the council and indeed our ward that things, to quote the song, could only get better, oh how wrong we all were. A deprived neighbourhood has gone from bad to worse, from having few basic amenities we have been deprived even of these. We have lost thanks to labours ruthless implementation of ConDem policies, two libraries, 2 fires stations , a leisure centre and even the local housing office has now got reduced hours. Our streets are filthy; our recycling bins if we are lucky to have one are emptied spasmodically.
But along with many others I do have the use of a vote every now and then and I intend to use it. This incinerator will tie and indeed bind the labour controlled council to a company that is in mine and many other peoples opinion not fit to hold a contract. Veolia in my opinion lacks the basic fundamental integrity to function in any marketplace as I am sure my comrades from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign will no doubt explain to you.
So why should we the great unwashed of inner east Leeds worry our deprived little heads about having an Energy from Waste Incinerator in our midst. Because there are no shades of grey – there is only white that is dirty, and the way this incinerator has been procured behind closed doors is as dirty as it gets
Am I allowed in a council chamber to mention the C word? CONSULTATION.
This is the biggest joke of all. Since 2007 this project has been on the agenda of the local forum, we have been primed with information (much of which has been repeated several times) and when we have allegedly been given an opportunity to ask real questions of useful people we have not been told of their attendance at meetings – if anybody remembers the man coming from the environment agency this was a prime example – decent questions could have been asked but as we were caught very much on the back foot he got a much easier ride than he should have had.
The initial public meetings were also a joke – mine in Richmond Hill was held at 6pm on a November Friday night – not the best time for a good turnout and actually sending invitations would have been handy as in the polluted atmosphere of inner east Leeds it can be difficult to get a clear vision in your crystal ball.
Since then the consultation has gone downhill – the community liaison group set up by Veolia and facilitated by Urban Mines didn’t invite local churches, schools or many other associations to its meetings, they did however say they had consulted with Friends of East End Park in the pre planning document and as the chair of that group I can assure you they had not until we rang them to notify them of their error. its “independent chair” most certainly demonstrated he was very pro incineration simply by the distain he treated me with and actually said a charity he had worked with had received funding from the Veolia trust, which made little bells ring in many people’s heads. A liaison meeting about the actual process of incineration completely missed out a huge chunk about how they dispose of the highly toxic fly ash – until of course the community reminded them.
I could go on and on about why this project should be stopped. But I will leave you with two thoughts :-
If the council had examined its own figures it would have realised that the figure of 395k tonnes of residual waste was wildly over estimated when he initial procurement process commenced, if the figure had been in 2008 what it is today approx 180k what other more environmentally friendly and sustainable methods of disposal may have been considered?
Do you actually trust your local politicians to tell you the truth anymore – I am not suggesting they wear their hearts on their sleeves but ones who give honest answers to genuine questions would be nice . I call on all three of our local councillors to resign from the labour party and to join the community in this fight - councillors may have got us into this mess – but we as a community acting as a team can get ourselves out of it. It is time to show our alleged community leaders that the right path is to follow us- the voters.