05 July 2011

Labour calls for cross-party campaign against “super sewer” in Sands End but Tories play political games

Tory Hammersmith & Fulham Council has spurned a Labour plea for a cross-party campaign to stop the construction of a “super sewer” in Carnwath Road in Sands End.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, Labour councillors were unanimous in supporting Sands End residents in their campaign against the super sewer and in calling on Thames Water immediately to withdraw proposals to use the Carnwath Road site as access to the super sewer. In response to a motion put forward by the Tories, they urged a campaign that united all the parties.

Labour councillors also urged Conservative councillors to drop a statement of outright opposition to the super sewer (“This council reaffirms its opposition to the super sewer”) as this would distract from the main issue of saving Sands End.

Labour said that although they opposed siting the super sewer in Carnwath Road, something had to be done to stop sewage pouring into the Thames after heavy rains, the super sewer was still the only game in town and Barn Elms was always available as an alternative site. More research was needed on the options before rejecting the sewer outright. Instead, they proposed this alternative motion:
“The Council calls for the Administration to re-focus its efforts and resourses away from its one-dimensional, ideological obsession against the Thames Tideway Tunnel project and instead lobby the Conservative Mayor and Conservative and Liberal Democrat government Ministers to stop the Carnwath Road site being used for this project.
“The Council agrees to form a united Borough campaign that includes both Administration and Opposition councillors to stop Carnwath Road being used for this scheme and supports residents in South Fulham with a clever strategy likely to meet that objective.”
The Tories, however, decided to try a cheap political stunt. They voted down Labour’s motion and then insisted on keeping in the bit of their own motion that reaffirmed outright opposition to any super sewer. Labour councillors couldn’t support this as they felt it might damage the borough and were forced to abstain on the whole vote.

Amazingly, five days later, Tory council leader Stephen Greenhalgh and leaders of 13 other councils launched a commission of "independent" experts to examine Thames Water's case for the sewer and other options (see here). So on Wednesday, Greenhalgh opposes the sewer outright and jeers at Labour for saying more research is needed. And five days later, he jointly establishes a commission to examine the options.

All parties want to stop Thames Water from building the super sewer by Carnwath Road. But if the Tories weren’t playing their usual silly buggers, we would have a united campaign and more chance of winning the battle.

Please sign the petition by Residents Against Thames Sewer (RATS) to save Carnwath Road and the Sands End area here.

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