SUTTON Council has denied claims that a meeting of its development control committee was cancelled because members were "running scared" of a demonstration by incinerator protesters.
Members of Stop the Incinerator Campaign organised the protest at last Wednesday's meeting to mark the first anniversary of the controversial incinerator scheme being granted planning permission.
Campaign chairman Paul Pickering said the group learned on the day that the meeting had been cancelled, but decided to push ahead with the demonstration.
He said: "We turned up to be met by a couple of policemen who took photographs.
"We had some grandparents among us and one man on a mobility scooter – hardly the kind of people who were going to be troublesome."
Mr Pickering said it seemed strange that the council decided to call off the meeting at such a late stage, leaving the protesters with a feeling councillors were not prepared to face them.
Dave Pettener, another leading member of the campaign, said: "The council is afraid of the truth.
"With one in twelve deaths in London being linked to air pollution, the council's position on this incinerator has become untenable. They can no longer defend the indefensible and are choosing to run and hide rather than answer the hard questions."
Sutton Council said there was nothing untoward about the decision, adding: "The meeting was cancelled because the agenda was reduced to three items following the withdrawal from the agenda of the only item which had attracted objections."
The three remaining items, which are of a technical nature, will be considered at the next meeting on June 11.
The incinerator is to be built on Beddington Farmlands on the Croydon/Sutton border to help dispose of waste produced by the South London Waste Partnership boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston.
Campaigners say the plant will increase pollution in Croydon and Sutton and have sought a judicial review of the planning decision.
Mr Pickering said around £10,000 was need to mount an initial legal challenge in the High Court. Papers have now been lodged with the court by Shasha Khan, a prominent member of the campaign.
If the ruling is in the campaign's favour, the legal bill could soar by tens of thousands of pounds.
Mr Pickering said: "We have pledges which come close to £10,000 but we obviously need a lot more money."
Anyone interested in donating to the legal challenge should go to www.stoptheincinerator.co.uk