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Leader urges changes to laws on council contracting as it moves to ditch gas supply deal with Gazprom

Merton Council is to write to the Government to ask for urgent changes to the laws around who councils can choose to do business with, as the London borough seeks to terminate a gas contract with energy supplier Gazprom.

Leader Mark Allison said: “Under law all council contracts are commercially-driven. We need the ability to refuse to do business with such firms based their moral or social suitability, not just their commercial offer.”

Earlier this week Suffolk County Council said that, following a review, it would end a contract its wholly owned company Vertas Energy has with Gazprom.

Merton is set to follow suit, saying its move was “in response to the atrocities being committed by the Russian state in Ukraine”.

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Gazprom was due to begin a new one-year, £1m contract to supply gas across Merton’s buildings, including leisure centres, libraries and some schools, on 1 April.

The council said it was now reviewing its position and was in discussions with other energy suppliers.

Merton said: “The council had no choice but to enter a contract with Gazprom, which has supplied the authority for eight years, after they were the only bidder to respond to the procurement of the contract.”

Cllr Allison said: “I have asked officers to urgently review options to bring this contract agreement to an end to show our unity and empathy with the people of Ukraine. Any small step we can take is a step that must be taken.

“The atrocities being carried out by Russia are horrific, and know I speak for everyone associated with Merton Council and the borough when I say we stand steadfastly with the people of Ukraine.”

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