30 Sep 2011

Full Council motions: Veolia, ethical investments and a local bond

Bin Veolia logo
One of the Veolia campaign logos
Yesterday I covered the main item of Thursday night's Full Council meeting in Stroud - well some items were carried over from last week's Full Council meeting to Thursday night. Well there were three motions - two by Labour and one Green motion - first up was one re procurement and awarding contracts. This was a move to try and ensure Stroud pays particular concern to issues of grave misconduct when awarding contracts. Well we heard that this had not been defined and so made it difficult - indeed well over a hundred building companies caught for price fixing were not seen as gross misconduct - it makes you wonder....Greens supported the motion but it fell as it was not seen as workable.

As noted during the evening by Cllr Nigel Prenter, who put forward the motion, one of the issues was around Veolia - he made a case for really considering contracts in the future with this company - an issue I've covered a fair few times on this blog - see for example here and here - also see more info at the campaign website at: http://www.bigcampaign.org/veolia/ I welcome that this issue was aired at Council and hopefully will be a early warning shot to certain companies.

The next motion was another call for ethical investment - this is something Greens have pushed repeatedly  - see for example here a Green proposal to the budget meeting in 2007 - it seems the law is stacked lots against us but I still consider we can get further than is being suggested. This motion also fell with Tories voting against.

Lastly was the Green Party motion put forward by Cllr Molly Scott Cato and Cllr Martin Whiteside. This was about developing local bonds. Here is the motion: 'Stroud District Council undertakes to explore the feasibility of financing a fixed proportion, say 10%, of its borrowing in connection with the Housing Revenue Account by the issue of a bond to be made available only to residents of Stroud District. This would enable a secure and rewarding investment opportunity for local people and anchor the value of capital within our local communities'

Stroud looks set to have to borrow £100m - an issue covered elsewhere on this blog - well wouldn't it be great if some of that could be raised locally. As Cllr Scott Cato has said there are two sides to every borrowing plan, since somebody's debt will be somebody else's credit. In this proposal the profit that is made from our debt accrues to local people - they are given the opportunity to benefit financially from the fact that we are all, as a community, going back into debt. This is a proposal to explore this issue further and has my full support.

Local authorities must identify new sources of financing. Indeed I applaud Cllr Debbie Young and the Tories for already looking at different models. They are already on top of alot of the issues around this. However there is still a grey area and no one could clearly rule out bonds in the way Molly suggested. It does appear that we can't make a bond for just local people but surely it could be advertsied for local people. I think it needs more work to look at this - sadly the call for a feasability study was rejected but I hope still this will be looked at more.

See article in the Times here: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/public_sector/article7032735.ece  Barclays 'wolves' are on to the need for borrowing, so the ability to reduce extraction of value from the local economy is crucial (see this article: http://www.barclayscorporate.com/inperspective/business-strategy-and-insights/localauthoritybonds/)

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