Monday, 1 July 2013

Jewish support for Bin Veolia in Brent Campaign - the letter not published by local press

Neither the Kilburn Times nor the Wembley and Willesden Observer published a letter sent a few weeks ago on the issue of Veolia and the Brent Public Realm contract. In the light of the barring of discussion of a Lib Dem motion on the subject at the last Brent Council meeting and subsequent coverage in the Times of Israel LINK I publish the the letter below.

Despite a Freedom of Information request Brent Council have still not answered two of the three questions posed  LINK  They have confirmed that the three short-listed companies for the £250m 16 year contract are Veolia, Enterprise and Serco.

LETTER TO EDITOR Human rights and the public realm contract

We are writing to ask your readers to support our campaign to persuade Brent Council to act to defend justice and human rights. The Council is about to award a contract worth more than £250m over 16 years for the collection and recycling of waste, street cleaning and parks maintenance. This is  money paid in general taxation and council tax by Brent citizens that could go to a firm accused of grave misconduct in its abuse of justice and human rights in the occupied territories of Palestine.
 
Veolia, one of the  bidders  for the contract supports Israeli settlements  on Palestinian  land, which are illegal under international law, by:
 
  1. Sharing in the building and running of the Jerusalem Light Railway between West Jerusalem and the illegal settlement in Pisgat Zeev.
  2. Running bus routes that link illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank to Israel and that discriminates against Palestinians.
  3. Owning and operating the Tovlan landfill site that dumps rubbish from Israel and its illegal settlements on to Palestinian land.
 
We have presented legal evidence on these issues to Brent Council in a campaign to persuade them to exclude Veolia from the current procurement on the grounds of its ‘grave misconduct’.
 
This included a statement from Richard Falk of the UN which said: “Veolia is an inappropriate partner for any public institution, especially as a provider of public services.”
 
However, Brent Council has gone ahead and short-listed Veolia, along with Serco and Enterprise for the contract. Council officers have refused to answer our questions on the procurement process the most important of which are:
 
1. Why did you decide not to exercise your discretionary power to exclude Veolia?
2. What legal or other advice led you to this decision?
3. Have the allegations of grave misconduct been put to Veolia and if so what was the response?
 
We think these are reasonable questions that deserve an answer. In a number of recent procurement cases Veolia has withdrawn from the bidding process when the third question has been put.
 
Our campaign is cross-party and community-based and involves people of many faiths and none. Readers can get involved by signing our petitions on line or on paper which are available at http://www.brentpsc.blogspot.co.uk/
 
Brent Council, representing a borough with a diverse population from many ethnic and religious backgrounds, should stand up for human rights and social justice and exclude Veolia from the procurement process.
 
Beryl  Maizels
Leon Rosselson
Sheila Robin
Jews for Justice for Palestinians on behalf of the Bin Veolia in Brent Campaign.

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