The latest edition of the Commons register of members interests has revealed George Osborne received a freebie £8,000 helicopter ride from a property-developing Tory donor who stands to benefit from planning reforms.
Sounds pretty dodgy, right?
It gets worse. Before the chopper borrowed from megabucks Tony Gallagher dropped Osbo off at a Conservative Party dinner, chief whip and local MP Mark Harper had already briefed the chancellor on a controversial £100 million local planning development:
“Mark Harper MP … briefed Mr Osborne in advance of his arrival on issues important to the area, including the Northern Quarter development.”
Harper says of the “once in a generation” proposal for Cinderford in Forest of Dean, which was fiercely opposed by environmental groups:
“while it is important that any new development is mindful of the importance of our unique natural landscape, it must also deliver the jobs and housing needed for the tens of thousands of people who live in the local area”
Indeed. Tony Gallagher’s firm Gallagher Estates already has a substantial interest in the economic success of the area, boasting three residential development sites and a retail park all within 25 miles of Cinderford.
Much of the development is taking place on a former mine works now owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Scrapbook has asked the quango for details of the tendering process for residential and commercial building works.
Those wanting to speculate who might be in the running for the £100m project may find instructive HCA’s selection of development partner for their flagship project, the construction of the biggest new town since Milton Keynes …
… Gallagher Estates — owned by Tory donor Tony Gallagher.