Suffolk: County council set for vote on tobacco investment

Sandy Martin has proposed that the county disinvests from tobacco companies.

Sandy Martin has proposed that the county disinvests from tobacco companies. - Credit: Archant

Members of Suffolk County Council are to be given the chance to vote on whether to maintain the authority’s investment in tobacco companies at next month’s full meeting of the authority.

We revealed earlier this week that the county’s pension fund increased its investment in tobacco companies from £32.4 million to £36.7 million over the last year.

Now opposition leader Sandy Martin has put down an motion for July’s full meeting of the authority.

It says: “This Council hereby resolves to be a signatory to the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control, as endorsed by Public Health Minister Jane Ellison MP, and calls on the Pension Fund Committee to disinvest from all its tobacco stocks and holdings forthwith.”

Mr Martin said: “This is an issue that has become a major talking point in the county and I think it is only right for members of the council to be able to have their say on the issue.

“We know there is a great deal of concern about the level of investment in tobacco companies and this will give people the chance to express that.”

County council leader Mark Bee said he welcomed the chance for a full debate on the issue.

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He said: “Bring it on! This is certainly something I would welcome having a debate about. Certainly our side will have a free vote on the issue.”

The council has said that because the pension fund covers other public sector bodies in Suffolk – a total of 114 organisations – it is not up to the county council alone to decide on whether disinvestment should take place.

However Mr Bee said the issue was discussed at least once a year by the pension fund committee.