By Jonathan Hoffman
November 22, 2012
Last night I first went to Hackney Town Hall. The Council was due to consider a request from a Labour Member to invite in a Deputation to speak against Veolia, in order to lobby the Council and two of its members on the North London Waste Authority, with regards to the contracts they are considering. Before the meeting we demonstrated outside the Town Hall, neutralising an anti-Veolia (and of course anti-Israel) demonstration.
Thanks partly to great work by UK Lawyers for Israel, the request was thrown out almost unanimously (there were two abstentions). The turning point was a powerful speech by the elected Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe, who said that Hackney had no need of a foreign policy and he did not intend to adopt one and that the issue would be needlessly divisive within the Borough.
So by 7.45pm we were free to go and I went to Sadlers Wells to see the wonderful Batsheva dance performance for the third time. I first saw the Israeli dance group Batsheva over 30 years ago and they never fail to enthrall. This week’s performances in London were no exception - they are simply stunningly good
Here’s excerpts from the Evening Standard’s review, by Lyndsey Winship:
This show is not about politics, it’s about Naharin’s vision. Deca Dance is a compilation of scenes from a decade of his work and he reaps meaty movement from the elastic-band bodies of the Ensemble, the younger branch of the company. With Batsheva you don’t just see the choreography, you feel it; the deep urge to move, whether in rolling waves, deep curves or champagne-cork leaps. This is choreography that rejoices in the body – an not in the sexual way that seems to be the only way modern culture knows how but in a deep and honest, humorous and human way. More than that, Naharin is not afraid of entertaining. He knows the impact of a big unison routine. Some sections are as punchy as a pop video. and the audience participation is one of the most joyous things I’ve ever seen on stage.
If you haven’t yet seen them you have a last chance in Plymouth at the weekend
Two months ago on my blog I linked to an excellent Report which points out that any decision by a local authority to reject a commercial bid by Veolia on political grounds would be illegal.....
After the Hackney Council meeting the following statement was issued by all three Parties:
At Wednesday night's Full Council meeting, the Mayor and councillors of all three political groups voted not to receive a deputation from a group wishing to raise issues concerning NLWA.
Elected members felt that to receive the deputation could give the incorrect appearance that they were open to lobbying on procurement issues and would be in turn be prepared to lobby an external organisation about its procurement.
Elected members also said that it was inappropriate for Full Council to debate what is intrinsically an international political issue which the local authority is in no position to resolve.
Representatives of all three party groups issued a statement that said: "We are here to represent residents and do not shy away from difficult debates on local issues, about services and issues that directly affect our borough."
“We believe, however, that although technically acceptable, to have received this deputation would not have observed the spirit of the Council's constitution and went beyond what was reasonable for Members to consider."
On 21 December the NLWA announced that Veolia had pulled out of the bidding process. Veolia has taken this decision for commercial reasons. It was nothing to do with boycott pressure - proved by the NLWA's confirmation last week that they would not take any of the boycott campaigning into account and NLWA Chair Cllr Clyde Loakes expressing disappointment about their decision. The BDS campaign against Veolia is futile as it is calling for councils to break procurement law. All it succeeded in doing in the NLWA boroughs was to insult, irritate and offend previously neutral Councillors. The whole campaign against Veolia is based on the ludicrous and offensive theory that there is something wrong about providing tram services to both Arab and Jewish residents of Jerusalem.