Liverpool Council says it’s powerless to stop major warfare convention – despite owning venue

Mayor condemns event after protests but says “fundamentally it’s lawful”

Colin Drury
North of England Correspondent
Tuesday 27 July 2021 10:02
<p>ACC Exhibition Centre, Liverpool</p>

ACC Exhibition Centre, Liverpool

Liverpool’s city leaders have said they are powerless to stop a major electronic warfare convention taking place in the city – despite the council owning the venue where it will take place.

Thousands of people have protested against the October conference which will see high grade killer weaponry components – including those used to make drones and missiles – showcased at the ACC Exhibition Centre.

Delegates from global governments, military and industry will be among those attending the two-day event, which has previously been held in cities including Cologne and Stockholm. Seminars with names like ‘Air Dominance - Lethality Enablers’ will take place, while manufacturers will exhibit a range of products to potential buyers.

But, despite the centre being wholly owned by Liverpool City Council, Mayor Joanne Anderson has said she was powerless to prevent the symposium taking place.

In a statement released on Monday night, the Labour mayor said: “I have made it clear that I am opposed to the Electronic Warfare Conference. I know that many of us feel it is at odds with the socialist and peaceful values held by the council and that it raises moral and ethical questions. However, as a council we are very limited in what we can do.”

She said that the event – run by Clarion Defence – was “fundamentally…a lawful activity”.

And she added that, although the venue, in King’s Dock, was council property, it traded as an entirely independent entity.

Her statement comes despite the cancellation of an almost identical event which was scheduled for the same venue in November last year.

The 2020 Electronic Warfare Europe convention was scrapped after protesters took to the streets to demand it be kept out of Liverpool.

Although Mayor Anderson pointed out her predecessor, Joe Anderson, was not behind the canning of that conference, it is widely thought his political influence was significant in the decision by organisers to cancel it.

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