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Swansea City Council Ban Future Contracts with Veolia
Swansea Action for Palestine (with some additional reportings)
12 July 2010
An historic decision was taken by Swansea City Council to bar future contracts with Veolia on the grounds of its illegal activities in the West Bank.
Swansea City Council approved the following resolution unamended on Thursday June 17th 2010:
"The UN not only does not recognise Israel’s annexation and occupation of East Jerusalem, but has repeatedly stated its view that the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank contravene international law, and it has demanded that Israeli settlement activities and occupation should not be supported. The international trading company, Veolia, is a leading partner in a consortium seeking to build a light railway system linking Israel to illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, a project that clearly not only contravenes UN demands but is in contravention of international law.
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 in breach of international law, so long as to do so would not be in breach of any relevant legislation."
The motion was put up by the Labour Party group. It was narrowly passed 19 - 18 with some Liberal Democrats voting against and most abstaining.
Veolia currently has contracts with the authority for local bus, park & ride to the tune of £699k per annum and home school to the tune of £238k per annum.
The passing of the resolution was very important in its own right, but we have since discovered that this is the first resolution of its kind to have been passed by any UK authority, in that it makes explicit its reasons for ruling out any future contracts with Veolia. Other authorities have discontinued contracts with Veolia, but have not specified this reason. Swansea City Council is therefore leading the way with what is now seen as a landmark decision.
The resolution was put to the Council as the result of a campaign, in the course of which, all 72 councillors were mailed with details of Veolia's illegal activities. We were gratified with the level of cross part support for some kind of action to be taken and have since been in regular contact with councillors from nearly all parties who are actively pursuing the issue.
Palestine activist Richard Jones, who played a key role in the campaign, said: "The decision taken by Swansea City Council, after a short campaign to alert them about Veolia, shows that we are not powerless in the face of multi-nationals that back Israel. It's a step in the right direction, but what is important it shows us that everyone of can play a small part in the struggle for a Free Palestine."
Swansea now leads a growing number of cities ready to take a moral stand against international lawbreakers. The list already includes Dublin, Stockholm and Melbourne and within the UK moves are already being made which would mean that other authorities follow Swansea's example.
Commenting on the success of the campaign, Derail Veolia Co-ordinator Angus Geddus said: "This is a highly significant breakthrough. It is the first time that a council in UK has passed such a resolution. To my knowledge the only local authorities in Europe to pass similar resolutions are Irish: Dublin recently, and I think Sligo and Galway earlier. Veolia has lost contracts such as those awarded by Sandwell (UK) and Stockholm where it was widely acknowledged that the company's support for Israel's illegal settlements was primarily responsible, but no local authority has yet admitted this. I hope that people who have been lobbying their councils to exclude Veolia will tell them about Swansea's decision, pointing out that there is now a precedent for them to do the same."
Swansea Council Meeting Agenda
(17 June 2010)
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