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Friday 9th
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

Report says EU laws allowed controversial firm to be excluded

A NEW left party in Scotland is questioning the reasoning behind the Scottish government’s recent decision to award a major part of its water supply to a dodgy private firm.

Respect Independence Socialism Environmentalism (Rise) has produced a document arguing that EU procurement laws did not require the Scottish government to hand the contract over to Anglian Water, as ministers claimed.

The report concludes that EU legislation does not force the Scottish government to make procurement decisions on cost grounds alone, and that social and environmental factors can be taken into account.

Thus, the report found that Anglian Water was dubious choice, having a record of tax evasion, pollution and an anti-trade union attitude.

The private firm has been described as a “significant pollution offender” by the Environment Agency and in 2011 was fined for dumping 200 tonnes of sewage into a river.

In 2012, Corporate Watch found Anglian Water had paid just £1 million in tax despite a £363m operating profit.

The firm has also shown hostility to unions, having refused to co-operate with GMB to settle a pay dispute.

The report concludes that there are “more than enough grounds to say that Anglian Water comes up with a negative scorecard against the procurement criteria of ‘protecting the environment’ and ‘social considerations’.”

A Rise spokesperson said: “Our report shows putting Scotland’s water in the hands of the people is perfectly viable.”

The report dismissed claims that the Scottish government is constrained by Labour’s 2005 legislation mandating the privatisation of non-domestic water, since the SNP could have repealed the law.

However, Scottish Campaign Against Euro-Federalism secretary John Foster warned that no-one should have illusions about the EU’s pro-privatisation direction.

He noted that its troika had made water privatisation a key condition for Greece and Portugal’s bailouts, adding that the the EU-backed TTIP trade pact would increase the pressure in that direction.