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Monday, 25 March 2013

Brent Central GC supports call for Veolia's exclusion from Brent contracts

Sabina Khan from Dudden Hill branch of Brent  Labour Party proposed a motion on Veoilia  to the recent Brent Central Labour Party  General Committee  meeting. There was instant recognition in the room at the mention of Veolia and many others members seemed already aware of their appalling involvement in occupied Palestine.

A number of people spoke in support of the motion to general agreement. There was a suggestion that Kensal Green Labour members hold their councillor James Powney (Lead member for Environment and Neighbourhoods) to account regarding not handing out the Brent multi-million Public Realm  contract to Veolia. The motion was passed with no objections.

This is the text of the motion:

Recognising that:
  • the UK government and the UN have declared null and void Israel’s purported formal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in 1980 and have repeatedly stated their views that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, contravene international law (see for example UNSC Resolution 478 of 20 August 1980):
  • the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council adopted on 14 April 2010 expresses grave concern at “The Israeli decision to establish and operate a tramway between West Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev, which is in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions;” (para 5g) 
  • on 19 November 2012 in a letter to the NLWA, Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories concluded that, in view of Veolia’s violation of the UN Global Compact principles and its deep and protracted complicity with grave breaches of international law, Veolia is an inappropriate partner for any public institution, especially as a provider of public services
  • the Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude in a written parliamentary answer on 23rd May 2012 regarding illegal Israeli settlements was explicit that companies that have committed “an act of grave professional misconduct in the course of their business or profession” “may be excluded from a tender exercise”.
  • Veolia is a leading partner in the CityPass consortium contracted to build and operate the tramway
  • the Jerusalem Light Rail tramway line opened in August 2011, with Veolia responsible for its operation
  • Veolia placed recruitment advertisements for tramway operatives in 2010 discriminating against the recruitment of Palestinians by requiring Hebrew “at a mother tongue level” and “full army service/civic service” which is undertaken by very few Palestinians.
  • Veolia is also supporting illegal settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory with other services, namely: 
          * running bus routes that discriminate against Palestinians and link illegal settlements in the Occupied 
           West Bank to Israel.
          * owning and operating a 33 hectare landfill site, Tovlan in the occupied Jordan Valley, which takes   
           refuse from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and from Israel.

This Council therefore recognises that Veolia’s involvement in these activities amounts to complicity in violation of international law and therefore constitutes ‘grave misconduct’ in the course of Veolia’s business under any reasonable interpretation of that term, given that as a matter of law it is for public bodies to determine on the evidence before them if impugned conduct of an economic operator meets that threshold.

This Council therefore calls on the Leader & Chief Executive not to sign or allow to be signed any new contracts or renewal of any existing contracts with Veolia or any other company complicit in breaches of international law, as this would be in contravention of the wishes of this council, so long as taking this action would not be in breach of any relevant legislation. It is expressly stated that the above considerations (i.e. regarding Veolia’s conduct) and acting upon this call do not and would not contravene the provisions of the Local Government Act 1988 (‘the LGA’), because no reliance is being placed in this resolution on any of the prohibited non commercial matters set out in section 17(5) of the 1988 Act. Further, as there is nothing in the LGA that prohibits the Council from making the decisions called for in the resolution it would in fact be unlawful for the Council to falsely exclude those matters from consideration (i.e. relying on the LGA or otherwise) when making a decision as to shortlisting or contracting with Veolia, given the discretion that the Council is required to exercise under Regulation 23 (4) (e) of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006

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