Esher Planning Representation

Raab responds to chair’s letter about Sandown but fails to answer key questions

Dominic Raab has responded to the Chair of Elmbridge Liberal Democrat, Gill Smith’s, letter posing questions about the proposed development on green belt land at Sandown Park Racecourse.

He responded as follows:

Having not answered the questions previously posed to him, Gill has sent the following letter to him to seek clarity. You can read the PDF here.

Dominic Raab MP
House of Commons

07 July 2020

Dear Mr Raab

Thank you for your prompt response. Unfortunately it has failed to answer most of the questions that I initially asked.

You said your business Club, “Connect uses Sandown Park … for our quarterly business breakfasts. Connect negotiates a competitive rate for the venue – any discount is on a commercial basis, but in any event well below the threshold for declaration”. Thank you for this information.

However, you have not answered other questions in my letter, which I rephrase here:

Is any of the £37,000 you have declared in the House of Commons Register of Financial Interest, that Connect has donated to you, from Sandown Park Racecourse? If so, what is the total amount of donation, either in cash or in kind, that Esher & Walton Connect Club has received from Sandown Park Racecourse?

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

How many events has Sandown Park Racecourse hosted on behalf of the Esher & Walton Connect Club in the last two years, albeit for a commercially negotiated rate?

I’m sure it is in your interest to provide clarity on these issues and that you will be pleased to reassure voters that there has been no impropriety. It is unfortunate that you diminish questions concerning transparency with such a dismissive tone. I hope that you do not mean to dissuade your constituents – from where these questions came – from holding public officials to account.

You have also raised, at some length, the issue of the Green Belt which prompts more questions. If, as you suggest, the protection of the Green Belt is important to the Conservative Party, and if this is something that you personally have made representations on, why has Mr Jenrick, the (Conservative) Secretary of State and your close political ally seen fit to interfere with the unanimous “democratic decision of our locally elected council” and called in the Sandown Park planning application? 

In relation to the untruths that you have repeated about the LibDem/RA-Council’s policies on the Green Belt, I refer you, again, to the facts. See the reference at the foot of this letter.1

Given the the seriousness of the concerns that were the focus of my original enquiry I have once again copied this letter to Kathryn Stone OBE, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and to the Electoral Commission, as well as forwarding them your unsatisfactory response to me.

I have also, in the interest of transparency, added this letter and your earlier response to the Elmbridge Liberal Democrats website.

Yours sincerely

Gillian Smith

Chair, Elmbridge Liberal Democrats

cc Kathryn Stone OBE, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards 

cc Bob Posner