District council urged to cancel investment

Uttlesford District Council Offices

Uttlesford District Council - Credit: supplied

Questions are being asked about why Uttlesford District Council has agreed a deal worth £35m to build a headquarters in Gloucestershire for an American company it is claimed has links to the arms trade.

At Tuesday night's online district council meeting, resident Dr Sanjukta Ghosh, who has been campaigning for human rights for 20 years, expressed "utter revulsion" and called on the council to cancel the investment with Moog.

Moog Inc is a worldwide designer, manufacturer, and integrator of precision control components and systems. Moog systems control military and commercial aircraft, satellites, and space vehicles, launch vehicles, missiles, automated industrial machinery, and marine and medical equipment.

The company’s space products played a critical role in the successful landing of NASA’s Perseverance Rover on Mars.

A motion from Councillor Paul Fairhurst proposing an ethical investment protocol in light of events, and Councillor Neil Reeve's proposed amendment, was not reached. The meeting was suspended at 10pm and is due to resume today (Thursday) at 7pm online.

An e-petition on the council's website with 282 signatures calls on the council to cancel "investment opportunity 12" where the council will fund the commercial property for use by a defence company, as part of the council's £300m commercial real estate investment programme. The petition closes on May 2.

In a statement, Oxfam’s conflict adviser Martin Butcher claimed Moog had links to weapons being used to kill in Yemen, and urged the council to abandon plans immediately.

"We know that Moog provide 'sustainment services' for the F15 bomber aircraft, and Saudi Arabia has a large fleet of F15s that carry out airstrikes in Yemen that often hit civilian houses, farms, health centres and water supplies."

He added: "I hope that Uttlesford, and all councils, would adopt an ethical investment policy that would preclude this kind of deal, investing instead in companies and projects that improve life, not end it.”

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UDC's Investment Board reached their decision on December 22 when press and public were excluded. Minutes refer to "investment opportunity 12".

UDC on Wednesday said they were unable to comment further at this time.

Moog Inc's UK facility referred our enquiries to its headquarters in New York, who were approached for comment.