A church listed on the declaration of interest for the chairman of the Sutton Liberal Democrats – used as a venue to hold party action days and where one of its councillors holds surgeries – has received £275,000 in funding from the company hoping to build the Beddington incinerator.

The Holy Trinity Church, in Wallington, has been awarded the fifth most money overall across the country out of the 250 donations waste giant Viridor has issued.

The two religious sites to receive more money than the Maldon Road church are Canterbury Cathedral and Glastonbury Abbey.

Churches closer to the potential incinerator site in Beddington Lane, Bishop Andrew’s Church, in Wigmore Road, Carshalton, received £18,409 and All Saints’ Church, Hackbridge, won £15,154.

The money is released as part of a scheme linked to Viridor's existing waste facility.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Beddington North Nick Mattey said: “Residents in my ward have been questioning why Holy Trinity Church in the middle of Wallington should get more money than any project in Beddington.”

Your Local Guardian:

Canterbury Cathedral's award of £603,005 was the highest award in the country for a church 

The incinerator was approved amid much controversy in 2013 by Sutton Council and work has still to begin as campaigners Stop the Incinerator have battled the authority through the courts.

Following the approval, Sutton councillors at the time Margaret Court, John Drage and Paddy Kane, as well as MP Tom Brake, felt compelled to publish a special edition Hackbridge Focus in praise of the incinerator, and highlighting nine benefits it would bring to Beddington.

Mr Drage is now the chairman of the Sutton Liberal Democrats.

During his time as a councillor Mr Drage listed the chief executive of Viridor, Colin Drummond, and his wife as “longstanding personal friends”. It is in this same document that he lists Holy Trinity Church, Wallington as an interest.

His wife Elaine Drage is listed as a member of the church’s serving teams.

Your Local Guardian:

Glastonbury Abbey was the second highest funded religious building in the country receiving  £292,618

Liberal Democrat councillor Sunita Gordon uses the church to hold regular surgeries while a search of the internet also shows the church being used a base for canvassing days in support of Tom Brake.

When approached for comment on the grant to the church neither Mr Drage nor Viridor responded.


Projects in the Thames region to benefit from Viridor grants:

  • Holy Trinity Church, Wallington: £275,000
  • St Mary’s Church, Merton: £152,072
  •  Tara Theatre, London: £150,960
  • Surbiton Hockey Club: £80,474
  • Wandle Valley Project: £74,821
  • St John the Evangelist, Notting Hill: £67,000
  • St George the Martyr Church, Croydon: £63,144
  • Christ Church of St John, Clapham: £53,400
  • St Leonard’s Church, Streatham: £46,000
  • Beddington Village Hall: £28,781
  • Bishop Andrew’s Church, Carshalton: £18,409
  • All Saints’ Church, Hackbridge: £15,154
  • Saltbox Hill: £8,304
  • Strawberry Hill Sensory Garden: £3,000