The campaign to boycott waste management company Veolia because of its involvement in a tram project in Jerusalem has come off the rails again after the North London Waste Authority confirmed that the campaigners’ claims were irrelevant and would not be considered in the tender process.
Anti-Israel campaigners have been trying to block Veolia from participating in a competitive procurement process for new waste management contracts worth £4.8 billion over 30 years from the North London Waste Authority (NLWA). The NLWA covers the London Boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest.
Local residents – who want to see a level playing-field for Veolia and object to attempts to boycott Israel and companies connected with it as divisive and unfair – wrote to the NLWA asking it to ignore the boycott campaigners.
Responding to these letters from the public, NLWA Managing Director David Beadle has written:
“The Authority is clear that it cannot take the actions of another member of the Veolia Group into account either as a matter of principle or in the evaluation of competitive bids.
The Authority must also take account of section 17(1) of the Local Government Act 1988 which requires that when considering whether to exclude persons from being invited to tender for contracts, local authorities should exercise their functions without reference to matters which are non commercial matters. Under section 17(5) (e), non commercial matters include “the location in any country or territory of the business activities or interests of, contractors”.
Given this very clear advice, the Authority has not and will not take these matters into account as part of its assessment of the bidders. It is arguable that if it did or if it can be credibly alleged that it may have taken this into account, then the process could be challenged at significant expense to the taxpayer and any decision overturned by the Courts.”
A spokesman for the anti-boycotts Fair Play Campaign Group, said:
“This is yet another in a long run of failures for the campaign to boycott Israel. We are very pleased that the NLWA will pick a contractor based on whether they can provide the best service at the best price for local residents. They have not been swayed by a small but vocal minority of extremists who want North London’s town halls to become a battlefield in the Middle East conflict and who are prejudiced against and try to demonise anything connected to Israel.”
The NLWA letter is the second recent rebuff for the boycott campaign, following Hackney Council’s vote in November not to allow boycott campaigners to speak at a full council meeting.