Last night should have seen a debate in Penarth Town Council on the vexed issue of 320,00 tonnes of Hinkley Point ‘nuclear mud’ being dumped just a mile off the sea front of Penarth …but, surprise, surprise … it didn’t happen.
The Labour Party machine has already gagged all other politicians from voicing any concerns about the massive mud dumping operation off the coast of Penarth [an operation now revealed as being technically illegal] and last night the Labour silenced the sole dissenting voice on Penarth Town Council – Deputy Mayor Cllr Angela Thomas (Labour Plymouth Ward).
Back on September 19th Cllr Thomas – who is due to become Mayor of Penarth next year – had unexpectedly given advance notice that she would be moving a motion at the next full council meeting (i.e. last night’s meeting) demanding reassurances fromo natural Resources Wales about the safety of the mud and demanding monitoring of sea-water quality at Penarth.
On September 19th Cllr Thomas had said she wanted a debate in the Penarth Council Chamber to “mirror public concern over the dredged mud being disposed of just outside of Penarth beach” and wanted to ” bring a motion to council to ask for re-assurances from the NRW [Natural Resources Wales] that the material is free of radioactive substances and ask if they will be monitoring the water quality on the beach. ”
For Cllr Thomas this was a gutsy, independently-minded challenge to the Welsh Labour Government which no other Labour councillors, AMs or MPs had dared to lay down.
Cllr Thomas had not only announced her forthcoming anti-mud motion in the Penarth Town Council chamber on September 19th – but had also then gone on Twitter (see above) to attempt to rally support from Labour stalwarts like Jane Hutt (Labour AM Vale of Glamorgan) .
However last night – come the day, come the hour – the plug was pulled on Cllr Thomas and her nuclear mud debate. Evidently a metaphorical Labour Party jackboot had been applied to her throat.
When the tail-end “Any Other Business” item came up on the last night’s council meeting agenda – the point at which the debate should have begun – a subdued Cllr Thomas read out a prepared statement. It said:-
” I’d just like to give an update on the Motion that I was going to bring to council this week. In the light of the situation, the Hinkley mud settlement scheme moved and what happened this week, I would like to reserve and call back that motion to see what developments will happen on the 10th of October when it’s debated in the Assembly.”
The statement is clearly ludicrous. Penarth Council has been aware of the proposed mud dumping scheme for several months – and done and said nothing about it. The 320,000 tonnes of Hinkley Point mud – whether radioactive or not – will clearly pollute Penarth’s beach and shoreline – and could potentially affect the health and welfare of the town.
The massive mud dumping operation commenced on September 10th. It’s now October 4th – and the suggestion in the Deputy Mayor’s statement last night is that Penarth Town Council should defer a debate until some later time is tantamount to saying “forget it – dump it – bury it”. The next Penarth Town Council meeting is not due to be held until December 5th – by which time most, if not all, the entire 320,000 tonnes of mud will probably have already been dumped.
Clamping down and quashing debates on issues raised by individual councillors has become something of hallmark for the increasingly Corbynesque Labour-dominated Penarth Town Council.
In July this year Cllr Liz Fahy (Labour St Augustines) had naively proposed holding a council debate on whether Penarth Town Council should give its formal support to the so-called “People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal” [ The “People’s Vote” is a bid to overturn the result of the 2016 Referendum – in which the overwhelming democratic decision of the people of Wales was to leave the EU].
That Brexit motion was due to have been debated in the council chamber on September 5th – but the issue mysteriously disappeared from the council agenda without trace or explanation after Penarth Town Council had been accused of venturing well beyond its remit [looking after the cemetery, the allotments, and running the Kymin and Paget Rooms] and was said to be meddling in political matters which are none of its business.
On the other hand the mud dumping is a different kettle of fish – an issue which directly affects Penarth – but as it’s one in which the Welsh Labour Government stands accused of gross incompetence it is therefore a can of worms that the council doesn’t want to open.