Controversial investment is ethical, district councillors say

Uttlesford District Council Offices

Uttlesford District Council - Credit: supplied

A controversial £35m investment in land that will result in a building being created in Gloucestershire IS ethical, a meeting heard.

Uttlesford district councillors on Thursday (February 25) expressed frustration at press coverage and social media comments over a deal with Moog, who will become the tenants. It has been claimed the company has links to the arms trade. Oxfam has expressed concern, speakers addressed Tuesday's meeting, and a public petition on the council's website now has 348 signatures.

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.

At their reconvened meeting on Thursday (February 25), chairman Martin Foley said he wished to apologise for Tuesday night's interruptions to public speaker Dr Sanjukta Ghosh but reminded the meeting that companies should not be named.

Dr Ghosh, who has been campaigning for human rights for 20 years, had expressed "utter revulsion" and called on the council to cancel the Investment Board's decision, referred to as "investment opportunity 12" in minutes of a private discussion and in a public petition against the plan.

Councillor Patrick Lavelle said he had listened to what was being discussed with a "degree of astonishment", as they had made one investment in one company under the previous administration, and the other investments were land.

"We are purchasing land which comes with leases," he said.

Most Read

The meeting included a motion to consider an ethical investment protocol and process, submitted by Councillor Paul Fairhurst. It sought an investment strategy that did not purchase commercial assets with direct or indirect issues to human rights, environmental or social harms. 

It was rejected in favour of an amendment from Cllr Neil Reeve which commends the council's commitment to ethical integrity, and requires an investment protocol is created to include ethical and environmental considerations.

Councillor Alan Dean said he wished it recorded that seven Green and Liberal Democrat members were submitting a statement of disassociation and called on the council not to pursue "investment 12". 

At the same meeting, councillor Barbara Light said she was wearing black as she was in mourning and she said the decision would kill children.

Moog has been approached for comment.