Thursday, April 9, 2009

Metrix sham Public consultation

Letter from Phil published in the Penarth Times and the Gem. I guess it may be in the Barry and District News as well.

4th April 2009

Dear Editor,

I took part in the public consultation in Barry about the St. Athan Project last Friday. My principal concern is that this development, as the largest ever UK Private Finance Initiative, is coming after such schemes have been widely criticised by many House of Commons Committees.

A primary concern in relation to the St. Athan Project is that in order to maximise the profits of the companies involved, the services of the facility will be opened to armed forces from all over the world. When I raised this with the Ministry of Defence staff, they assured me that countries like Iran would not be given access. When I asked about Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, no such assurance was possible. The UK Government has already given the green light for such training, yet these are regarded by Amnesty as amongst the most repressive regimes in the world. If the proposed privatisation goes ahead, we can expect training for these and similar forces to be radically extended. I also raised the fact that Raytheon, one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers, is a major contributor to the St. Athan Project. Again, they tried to assure me that Raytheon’s part at St. Athan is only in relation to its training skills, and that its interest in weapons sales will be kept entirely separate. I wonder what Raytheon’s investors think about that?

I looked through the information made available at the meeting. Here we have a £12bn project yet there was no reference to the names of the firms which are to receive the money. I asked if a list was available. ‘No, but we can send it to you, or you can find it on the website’. Why on earth isn’t this basic information available at a public consultation? In the absence of a statement, I can only guess that its absence is because of the adverse publicity already in the public domain about some of these firms, such as Raytheon’s production of missiles which dispense cluster bombs (weapons which have done enormous damage to civilians).

We have seen what happened to banking when profit became the over-riding value, namely extensive loss of truth. So, people of the Vale, keep asking the questions. And to the schools which are already promoting this project, will you be willing to think again? Our young people are connected, however indirectly, with other young people who experience the awful effects of the arms trade. Let’s teach about that, and encourage them to work for a project in Wales which is primarily focussed upon peace-building. What about developing a Peace Garden in every school (see www.paxchristi.org.uk/pubs.HTML )?

Sincerely

Phil Kingston

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