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Esher Planning Representation

Open letter to Dominic Raab questioning Walton Connect Club and Sandown development

Chair of Elmbridge Liberal Democrats, Gillian Smith, has sent a letter to Dominic Raab MP raising questions and concerns of Elmbridge residents about a planning application for 318 homes on Green Belt land at Sandown Park Racecourse.

You can read this as a PDF, or read the version below.

Dominic Raab MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

30 June 2020

Dear Mr Raab

Transparency and standards in public life:  Questions about the Esher and Walton Connect Club and Sandown Park Racecourse.

You will no doubt have read about the ‘cash for access’ allegations regarding Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the planning approval for the £1bn Westferry Printworks.1 The lobbyist at the heart of the scandal, Richard Patient, MD for Thorncliffe, is an active campaigner for you and the Esher & Walton Conservative Party.

You will also be aware that Mr Jenrick is facing fresh allegations over plans to call in a planning application for, inter alia, 318 homes on Green Belt land at Sandown Park Racecourse, which is located within your constituency.2

Residents of Elmbridge have approached us with concerns over this, some of which have been laid out below.

I note from your own website that Mr Jenrick spoke on a public platform with yourself at an Esher & Walton Connect Club which was held at Sandown Park Racecourse.  Richard Patient appears to be photographed as one of the attendees at the event3. It is also clear from general Google searches, that the Esher & Walton Connect Club has held several meetings at Sandown Park Racecourse.

Over the last seven years, the Esher & Walton Connect Club has donated £37,000 to you.4 Under electoral law, all donations of more than £1,500 must be registered with the Electoral Commission.  It would therefore be helpful if you can provide evidence to demonstrate that individual donations made to the Esher & Walton Connect Club do not exceed £1,500, which in the spirit of the rules, would need to have been declared separately.

Considering the allegations that have been made against Richard Patient and Sandown Park Racecourse, I am sure you will want to provide clarity to the questions that inevitably arise.  It would be helpful if you could provide answers and evidence to me and the residents in Esher and Walton, as soon as possible, in regard to the following questions: which are laid out below.

How many events has Sandown Park Racecourse hosted on behalf of the Esher & Walton Connect Club during the last two years?

Has the Sandown Park Racecourse charged the Connect Club a commercial rate for hiring event space, or has it offered discounted rates?

What is the total amount of donation, either in cash or in kind, that Esher & Walton Connect Club has been received from Sandown Park Racecourse?

Has the Connect Club received donations from any individual person/organisation of £1,500 or more?

Has any of the £37,000 donated through the Connect Club been used to support and fund the campaigns of local Conservative Councillors? If so, have Conservative Councillors declared this interest on their Councillor Register of Interests and, did those Conservative Councillors participating in the Planning Committees considering the Sandown Park application, declare this potential conflict of interest at that meeting?

Given the seriousness of these concerns I have copied this letter to Kathryn Stone OBE, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and to the Electoral Commission.

I would welcome a swift response.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Gillian Smith
Chair Elmbridge Liberal Democrats

cc Kathryn Stone OBE    Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards standardscommissioner@parliament.uk  

cc  Bob Posner    pef@electoralcommission.org.uk

Endnotes

  1. Mail on Sunday, Cash for very big favours: Murky links in a £1billion property deal involving Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and billionaire tycoon Richard Desmond as row threatens to engulf No10, 13 June 2020 – https://tinyurl.com/sandown-dailymail
  2. Times, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick mired in new planning row, 23 June 2020 – https://tinyurl.com/sandown-thetimes
  3. Dominic Raab Blog, Connect Breakfast with Robert Jenrick, 12 November 2018 – https://tinyurl.com/sandown-raabblog
  4. Electoral Commission Search – https://tinyurl.com/sandown-electoralcommission