Although our protest camp on college green was never really directed at Bristol City Council (since the issues that brought us there aren’t within their power to change) we did ask them to do something to show that they took our concerns seriously.
Back in November when we were running the Move Your Money campaign we asked Bristol City Council to “put their money where their mouth is” by moving the finances they hold on behalf of the people of Bristol to more ethical providers.
In response to this the council agreed to introduce an ethical investment policy. Strictly speaking they have done this, but it turns out that they’ve written it in a way that doesn’t actually require them to do anything.
In a recent Evening Post article Barbara Janke was quoted as saying: “Bristol City Council adopted an ethical policy for treasury management activities at a recent cabinet meeting, with all banking, including £171 million of investments, meeting this policy.”
That got us wondering how they’d managed to introduce a policy that meant their finances already met its requirements, so we had a look at it.
The relevant section is below. Note their cunning use of the words “direct” and “core” without which this paragraph would actually commit them to something meaningful.
“The Council will not undertake direct investment or borrowing activities with organisations/ Sovereigns whose core activities include:
• Nuclear fuel
• Pornography or violent material
• Government’s that support or are part of a repressive regime
• Animal testing for cosmetic purposes / unnecessary exploitation of
• Third world debt exploitation
• Poor human rights records
• Poor social/environmental practices
• Arms trade
• Bribery/ fraud/ corruption
• Violation of international intellectual property rights”
The full policy is in the last part of this PDF: