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Row breaks out over Brighton Smash EDO protest at Jubilee
2:30pm Wednesday 28th March 2012 in News
A bitter row has broken out over councillors’ condemnation of a Diamond Jubilee anti-arms protest.
Conservatives and Labour councillors on Brighton and Hove City Council voted for a motion that the council should call on Smash EDO to drop its June protest plans because of possible disruption to celebrations.
Senior Green councillor Ben Duncan publicly suggested in his blog that Conservative Coun Tony Janio was “corrupt” in proposing the vote because he did not declare at the time that he himself works for an arms company.
Coun Duncan later clarified in a later post that he was not “alleging corruption”.
Smash EDO wants to close down the EDO factory in Home Farm Road, Moulsecoomb, which it claims makes parts for weapons used in overseas military action.
It has called a demonstration in Brighton on Monday, June 4 – the third day of a four-day bank holiday weekend marking the Queen’s 60th year on the throne – as part of a “summer of resistance”.
At a meeting Coun Janio proposed that the council call on Smash EDO to “abandon their plans to disrupt the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the city” and to work with police over other plans for protests.
The motion was carried with support from Conservative and Labour group members, with the Greens abstaining or voting against the motion.
Coun Janio, who represents the Hangleton and Knoll ward in Hove, has listed in the council’s register of members’ interests that he works as a “technical instructor” for Thales Training and Simulation – owned by French defence company Thales.
Coun Duncan, the council’s cabinet member for communities, equalities and public protection, wrote in his blog after the meeting: “This looks a bit like corruption to me – keeping silent about his links with the arms industry while trying to shut down the activities of a group campaigning against it – either way the question will keep council lawyers busy for the next few weeks.”
He warned disruption was more likely if the council did not work constructively with protest groups.
He is planning to seek legal advice from council officers before deciding whether to lodge a complaint to the council’s standards committee.
Smash EDO spokeswoman Chloe Marsh said the planned demo was not directed at the jubilee.
A spokeswoman said: “The arms trade does not stop just because of the Jubilee holiday.”
Coun Janio himself said he has no conflict of interest because his job is teaching people to fix flight simulators, not making arms.
He said: “We make flight simulators, we also make military flight simulators, but they don’t harm people.
“The worst thing a simulator can do to somebody is if it fell on them.
“We basically make a non-lethal product that teaches people to fly, whether they are military or civil.”