December 01, 2012

Israel lobby influencing award of contracts in London Borough of Hackney

There's a long back story to this issue which involves a French multinational corporation, Veolia, bidding for work in 7 north London boroughs, including the London Borough of Hackney, for the biggest UK waste contracts totalling £4.7 Billion. The procurement process is handled by a body representing all the 7 boroughs: North London Waste Authority (NLWA). The other 6 boroughs are: Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest .  Veolia's efforts are being resisted by the No2Veolia campaign because of the work it does on transport and infrastructure for the illegal settlements created and maintained by the State of Israel in the occupied West Bank together with technical and environmental concerns.  Things have just recently come to a head with a spokesperson for No2Veolia, Caroline Day, being prevented from addressing councillors in Hackney to ensure they are aware of the fundamental shortcomings in the contract awarding process.

Here's the Hackney Citizen:

A resident was prevented from speaking at a full meeting of Hackney Council last week by a cross party motion seconded by Mayor Jules Pipe, amid a dispute over plans to award waste contracts to a controversial multinational company.
Caroline Day had hoped to speak to Hackney Council to put the case that the North London Waste Authority should refrain from working with Veolia, a French company which campaigners say is complicit in Israeli violations of international law in the West Bank and Gaza.
The North London Waste Authority handles waste services for Hackney Council and six other London boroughs, and will consider Veolia for a 25-year contract due to start in 2014.
A deputation brought by Labour councillor Ian Rathbone to allow Caroline Day to put her concerns about Veolia at a meeting of full council was approved by the council’s lawyer.
However, a blocking motion was proposed at the full council meeting by a  former Labour councillor who defected to the Conservatives last year.
Conservative councillor Linda Kelly’s motion, which proposed that the deputation should be not be heard, received cross-party support from Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors and was passed with only two (Labour) abstentions.
Mayor Jules Pipe seconded the motion and gave a speech in favour of its adoption. Hackney Labour Group’s Chief Whip, Louisa Thomson, confirmed to the Hackney Citizen that it was a whipped vote.
A whipped vote means that councillors had to vote in line with their leaderships' wishes or face sanctions which can involve expulsion from their party.  The fact that so many councillors failed to question the whip is already disturbing but it gets worse.

Commenting on the outcome, Caroline Day, who is also a spokesperson for the No2Veolia campaign, said: “We wanted to bring a deputation to make sure the councillors who were on the North London Waste Authority board were aware of the issues.”
“The Mayor and councillors talked about my speech without having seen it,” she added, which meant the Mayor’s speech was “pure conjecture.”
Ms Day accused the mayor of making a “political decision” and said she was a victim of censorship.
In a statement Hackney Council explained why the deputation was rejected: “Elected members felt that to receive the deputation could give the incorrect appearance that they were open to lobbying on procurement issues and would in turn be prepared to lobby an external organisation about its procurement.
It continued: “Elected members also said that it was inappropriate for Full Council to debate what is intrinsically an international political issue which the local authority is in no position to resolve”, in an echo of Mayor Pipe’s remark in the chamber that “Hackney Council does not have a foreign policy.”
So councillors can't hear the views of a resident of the borough regarding the award of a contract because that might look like succumbing to lobbying.  Further, they can't involve themselves in a foreign policy issue.
But how did they know what Caroline Day's speech would consist of:
When quizzed by the Hackney Citizen as to how it knew in advance of the content of Ms Day’s speech, a spokesperson for Hackney Council said the Town Hall had received “a short synopsis of the deputation” from Ms Day “[indicating] it was likely to cover the procurement practices of a third party,” and that members received emails from protestors on the issues it contained.
So why did they agree to hear from her and then change their collective mind?

In a further twist, the motion to block Ms Day’s deputation was drafted with the assistance of an organisation called UK Lawyers for Israel, which Councillor Kelly contacted for assistance. David Lewis, Secretary and Treasurer for UKLI, said: “I helped Linda Kelly in the drafting of the motion.”
“We didn’t want the deputation to be heard by the council if we could find a way of preventing it,” he said. “We are there to defend Israel against demonisation and consider the No2Veolia campaign as part of the demonisation exercise.”
In the Jewish Chronicle, UK Lawyers for Israel boast of their involvement in the prevention of Caroline Day addressing Hackney Council:

How we helped justice to prevail in Hackney

By David Lewis, November 29, 2012
Follow The JC on Twitter
Israel’s supporters won a symbolic victory on November 21 against a BDS (boycott divestment sanctions) campaign to prevent Veolia from winning a massive waste services contract for the North London Waste Authority.
Because a Veolia subsidiary provided transport and environmental services in Jerusalem and the West Bank, BDS campaigners falsely accuse the French group of complicity in Israel’s alleged violations of international humanitarian law.
The battleground was the London Borough of Hackney council chamber, one of seven constituent boroughs of the NLWA, which was due to receive a deputation from the campaigners.
Hackney activist Martin Sugarman and Conservative councillor Linda Kelly sought the help of UK Lawyers for Israel, and we prepared a motion “that the deputation be not received”.
We contacted Labour councillor Luke Akehurst, who heads the advocacy organisation, We Believe in Israel. Councillor Akehurst liaised with the ruling Labour group, who decided to support Councillor Kelly’s motion along with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties on the Council.
Supporting the motion, Hackney’s mayor, Jules Pipe, made the telling point that Hackney did not have, and never would have, a foreign policy.
A joint statement by all three parties said that receiving the deputation could have given the incorrect impression that they were open to lobbying on procurement.
Receiving the deputation would not have observed the spirit of the council’s constitution and went beyond what was reasonable for local councillors to consider.
David Lewis is secretary of UK Lawyers for Israel

Jonathan Hoffman, late of the Zionist Federation UK (ZFUK) is also well pleased with the handiwork of the UK Lawyers for Israel.  Here he is on his JC blog:

Last night I first went to Hackney Town Hall. The Council was due to consider a request from a Labour Member to invite in a Deputation to speak against Veolia, in order to lobby the Council and two of its members on the North London Waste Authority, with regards to the contracts they are considering. Before the meeting we demonstrated outside the Town Hall, neutralising an anti-Veolia (and of course anti-Israel) demonstration.

Thanks partly to great work by UK Lawyers for Israel, the request was thrown out almost unanimously (there were two abstentions). The turning point was a powerful speech by the elected Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe, who said that Hackney had no need of a foreign policy
Well it does look very much like Hackney Council is open to lobbying and it does indeed have a foreign policy.  The Occupy News Network has a lot of detail on the zionist activism of those who are so pleased to have had a Hackney resident prevented from addressing her council.

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