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Wednesday 24 June 2020

Robert Jenrick - The Curse Of Newark

One Tory minister batting on a particularly sticky track right now is Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary. Why this should be was spelt out last month by the Guardian, who told readersThe housing secretary knew that a billionaire former media tycoon had only 24 hours to have an east London property development approved before community charges were imposed that would have cost him over £40m”. A former media tycoon? Who he?
Robert Jenrick

Robert Jenrick’s accepted that his approval of one-time Conservative-supporting billionaire Richard Desmond’s project at the Isle of Dogs was unlawful”. Ah, Richard “Dirty” Desmond, who bought the Express and Daily Star titles, extracted every last penny of value from them, and removed every drop of their credibility in the process.

Des’ proposed development was to be on the site of the former Westferry Print Works. As the Guardian noted, “Against the advice of his own planning inspector, the minister gave the go-ahead for the construction of more than 1,500 apartments in a 44-storey complex on 14 January. Jenrick’s decision was made just 24 hours before the Tower Hamlets [Community Infrastructure Levy] would have cost Desmond at least £40m”. Hmmm.

What’s the CIL about? “CILs were to be used to tax large property developments at £280 per square metre with the cash raised channelled back into the council area for building schools and health clinics”. Meanwhile, the BBC has told thatIt later emerged Mr Jenrick had sat next to Mr Desmond at a Conservative Party fundraising dinner in November 2019” and that Des “personally gave the Conservative Party £12,000 two weeks after the scheme was approved, in January”. Not much of a mess of pottage in that sale, then.
Patrick Mercer

Also, Desmond claimed “that he had shown Mr Jenrick a promotional video for the scheme on his mobile phone during the fundraiser at the Savoy Hotel”. Jenrick has now bowed to pressure, as Sky News has told. “Mr Jenrick said there was ‘nothing rotten’ about the deal and he would release ‘most’ of the documents to the benchmark of what would normally be released under the Freedom of Information Act”. Only “most” of them. Er, hello?

He faced claims of “cash for favours”. He “approved the plan in January this year, overruling both Tower Hamlets Council and a planning inspector … [but] subsequently reversed the ruling following legal action by the council, admitting that what he did was ‘unlawful by reason of apparent bias’”. Maybe we should see ALL the documents.

Meanwhile, the voters of Newark-on-Trent may be asking “Why us again?” After all, their last Tory MP Patrick Mercer was forced out after being caught participating in what was at the time called “Paid advocacy”, or, er, “Cash for favours”. In his place came Robert Jenrick, a presentable young man and breath of fresh air, who is now being accused of, er “Paid advocacy”. Their last Labour MP was accused of electoral malpractice.

All those good Conservative voting people, not so much in Newark as in the villages scattered around the constituency, must be wondering how they end the curse.

They disposed of one bent MP. Now the suspicion is growing they may have another.
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1 comment:

Dave said...

Oh Yes, Robert (3 homes) Jenrick. When he was parachuted into the N&S constituency he promised to live locally, and duly rented a house in Southwell. This cost the taxpayer a cool £100k, and which he hardly ever uses. His other houses are in Herefordshire ( where his family seem to live for most of the time) and in London. This London property is also the subject of an article in today's "Times" over some very dodgy financial transactions.