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Lewes campaigners block installation of Israeli water meters
Palestinian human rights campaigners blocked a water firm’s attempts to install its new Israeli-made water meters.
Residents in Lewes scuppered attempts by Southern Water engineers to install its Israeli-made meters at their properties as part of a pro-Palestinian demonstration.
The meters are made by Arad Technologies, a company accused of working in “illegal Israeli settlements” in the West Bank after installing 3,200 water meters in settlement industrial zones.
Adrian Briggs, a Lewes resident and member of the Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “The meter van turned up and we put our feet over its access point in the pavement.
“We oppose Arad’s involvement in the West Bank and also question Southern Water’s own policy whereby they say they will work only with ethical companies. We feel they are not sticking to that.
“We have no problem having a meter installed. We just don’t want the Israeli-made, Arad meters.”
Southern Water recently announced plans to install 500,000 meters in homes across its region by 2015, signing a £36 million contract with Arad Technologies in February 2010 to provide meters, meter reading services and data hosting services across its patch.
But The Argus reported last month how Brighton resident and pro-Palestinian campaigner Caroline O’Reilly successfully asked Southern Water to change her meter because she objected to the “repression of Palestine”.
The campaign has received support from Lewes MP Norman Baker, who wrote directly to Southern Water’s management last week.
Mr Baker said: “Southern Water is a responsible and ethical company and I can only think that they were unaware of the nature of Arad’s involvement in West Bank activities when they engaged them.
“I think Southern Water should re-evaluate their decision and at the very least be prepared to offer a water meter from an alternative supplier for those who ask.”
Southern Water said it had no political opinion or comment to make on the Middle East.
A spokesman for the firm said it listened to the views of all its customers and considered the merits of each individual complaint.
He said: “In one customer’s case – in Brighton some weeks ago – we installed an inferior, second-hand meter. It was the first non Arad meter installation in more than 300,000 installations since our metering programme began in 2010.
“We are presently in the process of considering a few further complaints – a dozen or so – from customers in Lewes. However, I must stress that there has been no change in metering policy.”
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