Seafield firm's Israeli links create a stench with council

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CITY leaders were today facing calls to reject a bid by the company notorious for the Seafield stench to take over other public services in the Capital because of its links to Israel.

Veolia - which operates the Seafield plant - has come under fire over its work in occupied Palestinian territory.

The French multinational firm is working on a transport link between Israel and some of its settlements in Palestine.

It is currently in the running for a new environmental services contract that the council is considering outsourcing.

Veolia has already lost a series of contracts around the world because of the work it is carrying out.

Campaigners and opposition councillors want Edinburgh leaders to follow suit.

Mick Napier, chairman of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), said: "Veolia is assisting Israel in its illegal Occupation of Palestine. Armed with this information, I am confident that Edinburgh Council will stand up for human rights."

The SPSC is currently running a campaign urging all Scottish local authorities to "derail Veolia".

The campaign has won support from Green and Labour councillors in the Capital, who have lodged motions for Thursday's full council meeting calling for it to be excluded from any new council contracts - and for its existing contracts not to be renewed.

Labour councillor Angela Blacklock said: "The reason most of us have become councillors is we want to make people's lives better.

"If we were investing in tobacco companies people would not be happy and this is the same. We need to conduct our business in an ethical manner."

In April, the United Nations' Human Rights Council condemned Israel's "tramway".

Green councillor Maggie Chapman also lodged a motion for next week's meeting criticising Veolia and calling on the council to exclude it.

However, it appears unlikely that either motion will be approved by councillors next week because, under the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006, which govern the award of contracts by councils, political or ethical connections cannot be considered.

For a candidate to be excluded, there would have to be very clear and robust evidence that the company had relevant criminal convictions or had behaved in a way that constitutes "grave misconduct" - and it is understood that council leaders do not believe there is such evidence.A council spokeswoman said: "The tendering process is closely regulated."

A spokeswoman for Veolia said: "Veolia has always said that if a recognised international court held that the tramway project or the agreement concluded by Veolia Transport constituted a breach, the company would comply."