The vote taken today at an Extraordinary GCC Meeting went against the motion put forward to scrap the incinerator contract. As such, the latest and best remaining chance to stop the incinerator was not successful - a hugely disappointing result. We are now fully reliant on Stroud District Council's request for a Judicial Review as the remaining chance to prevent an incinerator from being built at Javelin Park, near Gloucester.
Over 200 people turned out for a rally outside Shire Hall, before moving inside for the Extraordinary Meeting. Our Chair, Sue Oppenheimer made an excellent and passionate speech as she presented the GlosVAIN petition of over 7,000 signatures demanding the incinerator contract be scrapped.
The Labour Party strongly put forward their motion to cancel the incinerator contract, in line with the demand in GlosVAIN's petition. The Lib Dems tabled an amendment asking for an independent review, delivering transparency on cancelation costs, but it was clear from the officers that no further information would be made public even to councillors, and therefore a further review would not achieve the desired outcome. The Lib Dem amendment was then rejected by Labour, Green and Conservatives.
There was then much, sometimes heated, debate about the main motion to cancel the contract. Many Conservatives stood up to read scripts that had clearly been written for them, full of mis-information and lies - for instance that incineration is cheaper than MBT. There were some very good speeches for instance from Sarah Lunnon (Green) , Steve Lydon (Labour), Jeremy Hilton (LibDem - who committed to supporting the Labour motion) and Mike Sztymiak (Independent). However UKIP made it clear that they would side with the Conservatives, and spouted the same scare-mongering lies that the Conservatives had been pedalling.
So 27 votes from Conservatives, UKIP and one Independent councillor rejected transparency and the will of the people, and won out against the 24 votes in favour of the motion. Voting was along party lines, which was extremely disappointing in the case of a number of Conservatives who have previously been publicly against the incinerator, including, Dorcas Binns, and councillors previously on the Planning Committee who voted to refuse planning permission in 2013 - Robert Vines, Brian Tipper, Pam Tracey and Phil Awford. It's sad when such tribal, block voting is seen, at the expense of heeding the voices of the people or of individual independence of thought.
Likewise, where was the consistency on the part of the 3 Forest of Dean UKIP councillors, Richard Leppington, Colin Guyton and Alan Preest? A post from June 2013 cites how previously "UKIP councillors...voted to reject the establishment of a huge waste incinerator at Javelin Park. Councillor Alan Preest said that both this project and landfill were expensive and environmentally unsound." Yet today all 3 voted for the incinerator. One can only wonder at why they might have backed the Conservatives on this issue. It was equally disappointing that the UKIP councillors appeared to have already made their decision prior to today's debate, rather than listening to what speakers had to say. Their press statement justifying their vote being published by The Citizen just minutes after the vote was taken.
Today's result is a big blow, and probably the best remaining chance to stop the incinerator. However, there is still some hope with Stroud District Council's recent request for a Judicial Review, which would legally challenge Eric Pickles' decision made in January to grant planning approval for the incinerator. We mustn't give up while there is still hope!
You can read more on today's events here in the Stroud News and Journal article.
Read the Poem by Peter Adams
that was read at the DEMO on 18th Feb