A COUNCIL leader has criticised Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) for investing more than �50m in tobacco companies.

Leader of Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) Cllr Sharon Taylor said she is against HCC’s Local Government Pension Scheme fund - which oversees pensions for various public employers including SBC - having �50,471,640 invested in companies such as British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco.

Cllr Taylor said: “I know from my previous involvement on the pension scheme fund that Hertfordshire County Council are against constraints on investments. It’s a difficult issue however as smoking is such a big health inequality in Stevenage I do think people that work in local government shouldn’t have to have their money and taxpayers’ money invested in it.”

Cllr Taylor, who will be writing to HCC’s chairman of the pension fund Cllr David Lloyd to express her concerns, said that such an investment contradicted the work the council does to combat smoking, through schemes such as So Stevenage Smokebusters.

“The Smokebusters project has been very successful and we’re beginning to make real progress in tackling disproportionately high levels of smoking when compared with other places, so obviously we shouldn’t be supporting tobacco.”

Last week The Comet published the figure, correct as of October 28, which revealed the extent of HCC’s investment in tobacco.

Deputy leader of HCC Cllr Lloyd defended the move, stressing the need to not put restraints on the pension fund manager.