Monday, 22 April 2013

Barnet Labour: "NLWA Inter-Authority Agreement: an outdated plan with wrong assumptions"

"At the Council Meeting at Hendon Town Hall on Tuesday 16th April, Coppetts Labour Councillor Pauline Coakley-Webb submitted a motion, insisting Barnet did not sign up to the Inter-Authority Agreement, which would tie Barnet to an outdated plan, with wrong assumptions about waste and recycling and a poor financial model."
Council: Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Non-Executive Business Item:

Councillor Pauline Coakley Webb

NLWA Inter-Authority Agreement
Council is concerned that despite the delay to the North London Waste Plan (NLWP) proceedings, Pinkham Way will once again resurface as a site for a waste treatment plant and depot.

Council notes the overwhelming opposition to this from local residents in the area because of the concerns about environmental pollution, as well as noise and traffic nuisance.

Council calls on Cabinet not to sign the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) Inter-Authority Agreement until a proper, open and thorough reassessment of the business plan is done by all co
uncils involved.

You can read Pauline’s speech here:
"Any councillor not aware of the complex timeline of events that has led to the fiasco of Pinkham Way should have by now read, and digested, the eloquently-presented timeline of events, sent to every councillor by a member of the 'Pinkham Way Alliance'.

The flaws, the secrecy, and the way in which this scandal came about goes back to 2007, with the launch of the North London Waste Plan [NLWP].

The lack of information to ward councillors and residents has, not surprisingly, led to a major campaign across three boroughs, all united in their objection to a waste plant on this site.

And one has to wonder how far back this proposal goes, as it is abundantly clear that had Barnet cabinet in July 2009 not approved the sale of Pinkham Way to the North London Waste authority, the rest would be history.

It should also be noted that cabinet made this decision three months before the the publication of the NLWP Preferred Options report - the time when, for the first time, the public would be made aware of the proposed plans for a waste management site.

But is wasn’t until February 2011 that the transaction was finalised, even though it had been agreed 14 months earlier. And the explanation of how we were all kept in the dark was down to a secrecy clause, stating:
“The parties will keep in confidence the full details of this agreement, and the fact that there are, or have been, discussions between parties, concerning the sale of the property.”
So we are back to, I’m guessing, commercial confidentiality as the answer for everything, and the reason that when all sorts of deals are done with private contractors , both councillors and residents are kept in the dark.

Was Barnet offering the sole solution for a waste treatment site? Certainly Barnet had a lot to gain in money from the sale of most the land, all within the Haringey border.

November 2009 saw North London waste authority privately informing Haringey that it would be submitting a joint planning application for Pinkham way with Barnet . This being because Barnet had plans to move its depot for the fleet of refuse collection vehicles to move there,  as their current home in Mill Hill is limited, by plans for future development of their current site.

All this was taking place on the back of Pinkham Way appearing in an interim North London Waste Plan report dated October 2009, under 'Preferred Options'.

It is only the tenacity of the Pinkham Way Alliance and information obtained under Freedom of Information which has exposed that just a few months before, in February 2009, an evaluation by Mouchel scored Pinkham Way at 63 points, ranking it 54th out of 64.

Fast forward to March 2009, and Pinkham Way had been reassessed with 99 points, and now appeared in the top ten of preferred sites.

In December 2009, the North London Waste Authority bought the site from Barnet .

All this without residents being aware of what was being planned. [There was] no mention, that I can remember, in the 2010 council election literature, that this administration was knowingly selling land which might end up housing one of the largest waste plants in Europe!

'Economical with the truth' was more the mode of operation.

And still the fight is not over, because now NLWA owns the land it is still being quoted as the North London Waste Authority’s first choice for handling some of North London’s waste.

Mr Mayor, we are calling in this motion for the cabinet to not sign the North London Waste Authority agreement, until a proper, open and thorough reassessment of the business plan is done by all councils involved.

I note that Cllr Cohen in his amendment agrees in part, but simply asks that any plan be robust and does not put this borough at any risk

One might ask just what risks does he see as acceptable, and who will decide what are acceptable risks .

Even though this fiasco started before the current cabinet member's term of office, he has to recognise that the secrecy around the sale of the site does not endear the public to have any confidence in this administration, deciding what is or isn’t an acceptable risk .

A reassessment of the business plan by all council involved must take place. It has to be thoroughly open, transparent, and open to scrutiny. It must take evidence from the Pinkham Way Alliance before any decision.Is made, and councillors must be kept informed and consulted before any decisions are made."

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