|Council Slammed over Handling of Super Sewer Plans|
Summit meeting described as "a complete travesty" by Lib Dem chair
Hammersmith and Fulham Council is facing a wave of criticism over its handling of issues surrounding the proposed Thames Tunnel, better known as the super sewer.
A "super sewer summit" organised by the council and held this week in Fulham has been described by Paul Kennedy, chair of Hammersmith and Fulham Liberal Democrats, as a "complete travesty organised at Council tax-payers' expense".
He says: " 500 local residents turned up to question two spokesmen from Thames Water, but instead had to sit through a succession of speeches and propaganda from a Tory Council leader (Stephen Greenhalgh), a Tory MP (Greg Hands) and the Tory deputy London Mayor (Kit Malthouse).
" About 15 pre-arranged questioners were called (including a local Tory councillor), before Stephen Greenhalgh closed the meeting to allow Greg Hands and Kit Malthouse to make political speeches at the end.
" This was after he had shut up one speaker who had dared criticise the Council - on the basis that his question was 'political'. He also dismissed claims that Thames Water had been unduly influenced by influential Tory MPs Justine Greening and Zac Goldsmith."
Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which has campaigned for years against the entire Thames Tunnel project, has also been criticised by Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter for spending £5,000 of taxpayers' money on an independent enquiry which he calls " a useless PR stunt".
The enquiry, led by Lord Selborne, proposed the construction of a shorter, less costly tunnel. This proposal however was dismissed by Phil Stride, Head of the Thames Tunnel project at Thames Water, who said: " Nothing in the report begins to suggest a workable alternative to the Thames Tunnel."
The report was also greeted with dismay by Thames Tunnel Now, a coalition of environmental, wildlife and amenity groups who support the project. They called the report "illogical" and said it would not solve the problem of sewage pollution in the Thames.
And this week Andy Slaughter told the Fulham Chronicle: "Lord Selborne's suggested shorter tunnel would cause the same disruption to west London during construction as the Thames Tunnel, but would fail to stop an average of 39m tonnes a year of sewage spilling into the River Thames from London's over-stretched Victorian sewage network.
“It is now clear that H&F leader Stephen Greenhalgh and his Tory chums have wasted thousands of pounds of council taxpayers' money on a useless PR stunt.”
Local residents, led by campaign group Fulham RATS (Residents against The Sewer) have reacted with fury to Thames Water's announcement that Carnwath Road, on Fulham's riverside is now their preferred location for an access shaft to the proposed 20 mile long tunnel, switching from its previous choice of Barn Elms.
And say Hammersmith Lib Dems: " Residents at the meeting, organised by the Council had hoped for some constructive movement towards convincing Thames Water that it was a mistake to make the site at Carnwath Road their preferred site for the main shaft of the Thames Tideway Tunnel.
"Instead it became the lastest episode in the long-running feud between H&F's Tory Council and Thames Water. "
Hammersmith and Fulham Council however, is unrepentant. After the meeting council leader Stephen Greehalgh said: "
Fulham is uniting to say no to these plans. The super sewer is a sledge hammer to crack a nut and we should trust the respected world experts who have repeatedly come forward to say there are cheaper, greener and less disruptive ways to improve water quality in the Thames."
The public are also invited to comment on the recently revised plans for the Thames Tunnel on the consultation website. This consultation is open until February 12.
Thames Water have recently produced an image of what the completed building on the Carnwath Road site, currently used for open storage, may look like.
December 9, 2011