In 2014 the West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF) held investments in four manufacturers of cluster bombs. Their investments come from Council Tax money, collected across the West Midlands region. But the 2010 Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Act forbids all forms of support for this trade on the part of UK Nationals.
The Coventry Justice and Peace Group (CJPG) have been campaigning to persuade WMPF to disinvest from the Arms Trade. Every year since 2014 pressure from local people has resulted in such firms being slowly dropped from the investments portfolio or being forced out of the cluster bomb trade. There have been some notable successes.
In 2014, one of these, Alliant Techsystems (USA) was dropped from the WMPF portfolio. In 2015, another firm, Singapore Technologies, was forced to withdraw from the trade. WMPF had £2.8 million invested in the firm. In 2016 Textron (USA) announced its intention to cease production of the weapons. Pressure groups on both sides of the Atlantic have contributed to this. WMPF has about £500,000 invested in Textron. Then the Trustees of WMPF (all elected Councillors) agreed to exert pressure on the last cluster bomb-maker on their books, Hanwha (South Korea), to cease its involvement in the trade.
In December 2017 the WMPF Trustees accepted that Hanwha had no intention of ceasing its production of cluster bombs, despite representations from investors. The Trustees therefore decided to end WMPF investments in Hanwha Corporation. This means that no more pension fund and Council Tax money will be used to directly fund the trade in cluster bombs.
This is entirely due to the local campaign. Paul McGowan has been the principal activist who has worked tirelessly on this subject, including organising several protests at city council meetings.
The million and more Council tax-payers in the West Midlands can feel a little better now about where their money is ending up.