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The Veolia Campaign

22.6.12

Outside the Guildhall, Canterbury 2012

Press Release:

Pro-Palestine campaigners celebrate Veolia’s loss of £40million contract in Canterbury:

Wednesday 31st October 2012

Veolia Environment has failed in its bid to secure an 8-year, £40 million contract with Canterbury City Council in Britain. The council announced today that the current holder, Serco, was the successful bidder. This was despite Veolia’s website headline on November 10, 2010, that it had won a joint contract worth a total of £70 million awarded by Dover District Council, working in partnership with Shepway District Council and Kent County Council.

Veolia has been a target for human rights campaigners due to its involvement in Israeli projects in East Jerusalem and the West Bank which negatively impact on Palestinian human rights, including a transport infrastructure to illegal settlements and Israeli army bases in the West Bank.

In January 2012, local campaigners became aware that Veolia was going to be handed the portion of the contract that was in the remit of Canterbury City Council without it being put out to tender. The council rapidly backed down when its plan was highlighted by objectors to the company because of its complicity in the illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

In the first weeks, over 1,000 signatures were collected from Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay citizens calling on the council to exclude Veolia from the bidding process. Local campaigners from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, East Kent Justice for Palestinians, Stop the Cuts group and Whitstable Labour Party worked together to build the campaign against Veolia.

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Mary, Diane and Richard met Veolia executive, Robert Hunt, at Westminster meeting hosted by Julian Brazier MP, where Mr Hunt confirmed that Veolia is a single entity.

Hugh Lanning

Hugh Lanning, Chair, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who spoke at the final council meeting prior to the final decision to shun Veolia.

Over the past ten months a procession of expert local speakers, including the former Bishop of Dover and Hugh Lanning, Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), spoke from the public benches in the council chamber, making the case for excluding Veolia due to ‘grave misconduct’ as stipulated in procurement regulations.

The council executive refused to take a moral stand and went through a Kafkaesque bidding process that left councillors in the dark as to who the bidders were. The ‘standstill’ period to allow unsuccessful bidders to raise objections, was extended due to a leak to the local press after the bidders had been told the result. The council has now stated that as the standstill period has expired, they were able to make the announcement.

Diane Langford, from Faversham & Whitstable Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: ‘We welcome the fact that Veolia has not won the £40 million waste management contract, and continue to call for Veolia and other complicit companies to withdraw from illegally-occupied Palestine. The campaign is part of a global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the illegal Israeli occupation. We will continue to work for justice, freedom and human rights for the Palestinian people and the end of tyrannical Israeli destruction of their lives and livelihood. We call on Canterbury City Council to deny any further bids for contracts from Veolia. We also appeal to local businesses not to renew or sign new contracts with this toxic company.’

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Hugh Lanning, PSC Chair, said: ‘Veolia is a company which is complicit in Israel’s occupation. The Geneva Convention prohibits occupying power transferring its own civilians into occupied territories and goes on to prohibit significant alteration to infrastructure. What Veolia does in Israel is not a marginal act. It has a contract with Israel, and it makes profits by breaking international law. It is a very clear case of grave professional misconduct, and we consider that Veolia should be excluded from any future tenders on those grounds’.

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Students from the University of Kent joined us for the demonstration at the council chamber on the final decision night.

For full details of our successful Veolia campaign, you are invited to join our FACEBOOK page,  ‘Canterbury Council, please dump Veolia’ where full details of speeches, photographs and press reports are available.

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