Leaflets outlining the potential dangers of a planned £60 million incinerator at Battlefield have been banned from libraries – on advice of the private company commissioned to build the plant.
It has emerged this week that bosses at Veolia Environmental Services were asked by county council officers whether four-page brochures produced by the Safe Waste in Shropshire campaign group were suitable to be displayed.
The leaflets have not been accepted in county libraries since May, while joint Shropshire Waste Partnership and Veolia leaflets are on show.
Anti-incinerator campaigners have accused county council officials of trying to censor the debate among residents, and have argued that a private company should have no say over what information libraries stock.
Safe Waste in Shropshire members are due to discuss the issue early next month, and have not ruled out making a formal complaint to the local government ombudsman.
Shirehall officials have insisted the decision was made in accordance with their own policies and have declined to comment further on the situation.
Veolia officials were awarded a 27-year contract to deal with the county’s waste by Shirehall officials in October 2006, including a clause to support plans to build an energy recovery facility at Battlefield.
Linda Crane, a committee member of Safe Waste in Shropshire who lives in Harlescott Grange, has an autistic daughter and said local residents had a right to know if there was a potential danger to their health.
She said: “We had been allowed to put our leaflets in The Lantern for around six weeks before I was told by staff they couldn’t accept them. The leaflet isn’t political – it’s about providing all sides of the argument so people can make their own minds up. Surely the council wouldn’t sanction censorship of the debate – this is what democracy is about.”
County councillor Alan Mosley said: “Whether or not a library displays such leaflets should have nothing at all to do with Veolia. No one should have consulted Veolia in any way about this.”
Gareth Proffitt, county council press spokesman, said: “In common with many other library services nationally, Shropshire’s library service does not normally accept leaflets or posters that support local petitions, single issue campaigns or lobby groups. This is irrespective of whether the leaflet or poster is critical of local authority services or plans.”
A spokesperson for Veolia Environmental Services said: “The information in local libraries are about the whole waste contract. We look forward to further consultation with the local community on all aspects, which includes new facilities and services, the development of in vessel composting and the Energy Recovery Facility.”
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