Bedford Borough Mayor, Dave Hodgson, has been criticised by Britain’s oldest secular pacifist organisation, the Peace Pledge Union and borough councillors following an “enthusiastic” council press release reporting his visit to US-owned multinational firm Leidos at Bedford Link Park in Kempston.
The press release pointed out that Leidos has five key lines of businesses: civil, defence, health, intelligence, and Dynetics. It quoted Mayor Dave as saying:
“It is really valuable to have this high-value business joining the local business community at Bedford Link Park in Kempston. Not only have they brought investment and high skilled employment, but this facility will also act as a catalyst, attracting more business investment and high-value jobs from high-value sectors into the area, against the backdrop of the emerging Oxford Cambridge Arc.”
The Mayor added that Leidos has joined a local business community which includes Unilever, the Aircraft Research Association, Hybrid Air Vehicles, Fujifilm, Swiss Precision Diagnostic and Mologic amongst many more high-value Bedford Borough employers.
Symon Hill, from the PPU, said:
“It’s disappointing to see Dave Hodgson praising Leidos while ignoring what they actually do. The Bedford Borough Council press release uses euphemisms such as “defence” and “intelligence”, but let’s be honest:
“Leidos is an arms company, they produce computerised weaponry for armed forces around the world.”
Symon said the PPU is not attacking people who need jobs for applying for jobs at Leidos, but:
“The people of Bedford Borough deserve better than this.
“Politicians should not be celebrating a situation in which some people can only get jobs by working for arms companies.”
Bedford’s Green councillors said they were shocked to hear the council heralding the arrival in Bedford of business which provides “expertise in nuclear weapons research and development“.
Cllr Lucy Bywater (Castle Ward, Green) said:
“As Greens, we absolutely welcome it when quality jobs come to Bedford as that’s what local people deserve, good examples being renewable energy and health.
“But the council actively celebrating a firm whose business includes developing nuclear weapons is just wrong. Is this the sort of ‘high-value’ business we should be welcoming?”
The Chronicle put the PPU’s concerns to Bedford Borough Council, its spokesperson said:
“The Leidos facility at Bedford Link specialises in automation and airport security, not weaponry.”
Leidos was approached for a comment.