Council to review contract with Veolia over Israel link

TOWER Hamlets Council is considering severing its long-term dealings with environmental group Veolia because of the contractor’s work in Israel.

Councillors passed a motion at a recent full meeting to review the contract, which still has six years to run.

The motion was proposed by Respect councillor Harun Miah and carried by eleven votes to seven.

Describing Israel as a “pariah state”, the motion condemned Veolia – an international leader in waste management, energy and transport works - for its contracts in Israel.

The group is building a tramline in occupied East Jerusalem.

The motion was brought in with Labour - the majority party – abstaining from the vote.

Eight Independent councillors, who support mayor Lutfur Rahman, two Respect members and one Lib Dem voted for the motion.

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Seven Tories voted against it.

The council said a decision can only be made by Mr Rahman or the cabinet.

A spokeswoman added: “This issue was first raised 18 months ago, and officers have been having ongoing discussions with Veolia to work towards a satisfactory outcome.

“With the council forced to make more than �70 million worth of savings in the coming years we are reviewing contracts across the organisation to ensure that we’re achieving the best possible value for our residents.”

Some have now pointed out that the contract could be difficult and costly to get out of.

Conservative cllr David Snowdon said: “This ill prepared motion will cause potentially grave financial problems for this cash strapped borough.

“To break a contract because of a handful of councillors’ views on foreign policy, a policy not shared by the UK government or opposition, would enable the supplier to sue for massive compensation.”

A spokesperson for Veolia said: “We are in regular contact with the council regarding our contract so that we can address any issues that may arise.”