Shocking infant mortality rates put Grundon’s £100,000 donation to Colnbrook Village Hall under spotlight

A £100,000 donation from Grundon to Colnbrook Village Hall coincides with a more than DOUBLING of infant mortality rates locally since the super-incinerator became fully operational in 2010.


Colnbrook Village Hall announced a £100,000 refurbishment funded by Grundon on Thursday.  But the donation will refocus attention yet again on the willingness to take money from the incinerator operator while going softly on scrutiny of its emissions or possible linkages to health consequences for residents.

Most of the cash will be spent on a new high specification kitchen – while the bar area, meeting rooms and toilet areas will also be refurbished.  Despite being only 25 years old the refurbishment follows a recent programme to install new drains, boiler, and security systems, as well as the installation of wi-fi.

But the announcement comes just a few months after the Office for National Statistic published its most recent data showing that infant mortality in Slough has more than doubled in the three years since the plant became fully operational.  That was one of the likely side effects claimed by a group of doctors before the plant opened, and completely at odds with national trends.

Air pollution spikes have been highlighted by this publication on several occasions, but dismissed by both Grundon and the Parish Council without explanation.

CVHT chair Cllr Ray Angell made the announcement of the donation via Facebook, expressing his gratitude to Grundon Waste Management for its contribution to the project:

It further extends the company’s financial support to Colnbrook over the years for our extremely worthwhile projects.

Cllrs Hood and Angell are on record as insisting you take money where you can get it, telling residents in 2011 “you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth“.

No public fundraising campaign was considered before accepting the cash.

Grundon’s incinerator, one of the largest in Europe, began burning radioactive waste in January 2010.  Public health information typically runs about two years behind.

25 local doctors wrote to the Primary Care Trust and the Environment Agency expressing their concern about the Colnbrook incinerator before it opened.   They pointed at studies that showed a doubling of childhood cancers and leukaemias within 5km of municipal incinerators; the appearance of leukaemias and lymphomas in children living within 1.5 km after 5 years of operation; and a 12 year reduction in average life expectancy.  They also suggested the situation in Colnbrook could be much worse given the nature of the materials being burned.

2010 2011 2012
(per 1,000 live births/stillbirths)  South East Slough BC South East Slough BC South East Slough BC
Infant mortality rate
3.6 3.0 3.5 6.4 3.4 7.0
Neonatal mortality rate 2.5 2.3  2.4 3.9 2.3 4.1 
Perinatal mortality rate
6.6 7.6  6.8 7.8  6.3 8.1

Clearly it is too early to determine what the real impact has been on Colnbrook, and public health statistics are only available at the local authority level.  Public Health England warn about year on year anomalies due to the relatively low number of deaths but in Slough we have now seen three years of anomalies.

The figures make disturbing reading in all three classes of infant mortality (perinatal, under 1 week; neonatal, under 4 weeks; and infant, under 1 year).  Slough now has infant mortality rates comparable to a third world country while the rest of the UK has made steady year-on-year improvements.

The refurbishment is hoped to take place between September and early November.

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