Swansea Council fail to learn lessons from £80,000 legal bill

It has been suggested that Swansea Counil have not learnt frm their last judicial review, which landed then with a bill for over £80,000.


Recently Swansea Council chose to revoke a motion that was due to be put to full Council that would have seen a boycott of Israeli compabies over-tunred.


Swansea Council originally signed up to the boycott in 2010 when the Labour group, then in opposition, put to motion forward when the Council were considering entering a contract with Veolia who, at the time, had shares in an Israeli company. However, at the eleventh hour the motion to revoke to original motion was takrn off the table.


This decision has been questioned on both cost and equalities grounds.


Craig Lawton, the Welsh Conservative Assembly candidate for Swansea West, has questioned whether the boycott by the council breaches equality law.


Mr Lawton said: "I would hope that non-commercial matters are not taken into consideration by Swansea Council when deciding on contracts.


"If this is the case then there is no reason for the Council to not overturn the decision that was made in 2010."


He continued "Jewish Human Rights Watch have already won the right to take Leicester Council to court for a Judicial Review of the decision.


"I would have hoped that Swansea Council would have realised that the likelihood was that the same would happen to them if they did not stop their boycott.


"There is a very real risk that the Council might not be able to recover their costs even if they were to be successful.


"As a result, no matter what the outcome of this matter, it is the taxpayers of Swansea that will end up footing the bill."


Mr Lawton added "I understand that the Council have already discussed the matter with representatives of Jewish Human Rights Watch and it was agreed that if the motion, that was brought by the Labour Council group in 2010, was overturned then no court costs would need to be incurred by either side.


"The fact that this offer was open to the Council but the Leader instead decided to not go ahead with it is extremely questionable.


"Just last year the Council incurred a bill of over £80,000 after it was held that their decision cut transport funding for pupils travelling to religious schools was unlawful.


"It appears that the Cabinet have not learnt from their mistakes yet."


Mr Lawton also questioned how the Council came to their decision.


"Swansea Council have not only said that the original has not been revoked, they have in fact stated that it has be re-affirmed.


"This seems very strange as the discussion was withdrawn, so no debate coud have been had and no decision could have been made.


"I hope the Council explain why they are therefore stating that they have re-affirmed this motion from six years ago."


Last week Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock was in Israel as he announced new laws that would put a stop to punlic bodies, like councils, from boycotting companies on "ethical grounds" as it "undermined good relations" and "fuelled anti-Semitism."


Craig's comments featured in the South Wales Evening Post on 16th February 2016