Clash over council’s new ethical investment policy

Crawley Town Hall
Crawley Town Hall

A new ethical investment policy for Crawley Borough Council was criticised as a possible ‘slap in the face’ to the UK defence industry.

The authority’s Cabinet agreed not to directly investment in organisations whose core activities include armaments and weapon systems, gambling, pornography, tobacco, and pay-day loans, last Wednesday.

But Duncan Crow (Con, Furnace Green), leader of the Conservative group at the council, said it would effectively be a ‘boycott’ of the UK defence industry, and could be perceived as a ‘slap in the face’ to both the sector and the country’s armed forces.

Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate), leader of the council, felt that conflating debate over their ethical investment policy with the situation in Syria would be ‘clumsy and in poor taste’.

He added: “An ethical investment policy is a public statement saying if you are responsible for public money you have a duty not to use it in a way that people might not view as appropriate.”

Michael Jones (Lab, Bewbush), cabinet member for public protection and community engagement, added: “I think it’s absolutely rubbish to try and seem as if we are being unsupportive of the defence of this country.”

The Cabinet report stated that the council’s investments would be based on security, liquidity, and yield in that order, and the ethical investment policy would become a fourth consideration in any decision making process.

It explained that the core activities in the policy had been chosen after ‘careful consideration’.

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