Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lib Dem Property Sleaze: Baker Falls Off High Horse

Oh dear me. We were hoping, we really were, that crusading Norman Baker MP (Lib Dem, Lewes) would be deemed beyond reproach when it came to his own financial arrangements. But alas, the Lib Dems conspiracy theorist in chief and outer of Jacqui Smith's hubbies mucky £10 over-claim has been "double dipping" by charging £7,500 a year to himself for office space in his constituency home.

Is it something about these Lib Dems and property sleaze? I'm stone certain that Mr Baker is not the only Lib Dem MP renting property that they, or their friends, or their family, or their close supporters actually own.

What about it PR Paul? On election the Lib Dem MP for Rochdale Paul Rowen saw a humungous increase in the office rent - paying his MP-ly rent to the head lease owners, Rochdale Liberal Democrats. They in turn paid rent to the ultimate owners Rochdale Reform Buildings Limited (RRBL). But who owns and directs RRBL?

Although notifiable political donations to Rochdale Lib Dems appear to have inexplicably dried up, and although the Rochdale Lib Dems are claiming immunity from submitting annual accounts due to inexplicably decreased turnover, now it seems under the limit of £25,000, we understand that RRBL was the last notified donor.

Having only recently received their muchly boosted rent from the party, partly on behalf of the MP and paid from taxpayers' monies, they sent a goodly sum back to party funds. How queer!

Other earlier donations were apparently laundered through the Friends of Cyril Smith at 14 Emma Street. But anyhow, that's all history now. There have been no donations for ages. And the party's turnover is apparently pretty pathetic. It's a wonder they are still able to conduct campaigns in the town.

Hat tip for Norman Baker story: Iain Dale.

Here follows a comment I made on my own blog, in October last year:

The story they give out is that Hennigan is exclusively paid by Rowen and that since March 2003 (£1,642.80) there has been no notifiable donation from the Friends of Rochdale Liberal Democrats, an unincorporated association c/o Smith Mansions.

There was one from the same title as an "individual" with no address in March 2004 (£1,487.00) and another from the Smith-oid hisself in October 2004 (£2,160).

The one and only declared donation from the Lib Dem Group was made or at least "accepted" on 31 December 2004 and was for a mighty £24,266.00. Although this is declared to the EC as a donation it does not appear as income in either the 2004 or 2005 accounts submitted in the first half of 2006.

The only subsequent donation registered is from Rochdale Reform Buildings Limited, a company registered 00160199, based at the same address as Mr Rowen's office and the Lib Dem Party HQ.

That is for £1,793.00, an amount not unadjacent to a possible netting off of £2,000 less say admin charge. £2,000 being the rent recorded as being paid by the party in the year to 31.12.08. A year in which no business rates at all were recorded. In 2004 these had been £1,518.20 BR plus £61.69 for water. And in 2003 £1,804.80.

Perhaps Paul Rowen requested waived rates as MP or paid them from his allowances and passed this benefit on to his political chums illegally?

There is an amount of £660 per annum included as notional rent in both 2004 and 2003. Presumably the Rochdale Reform Buildings Limited were waiving the rent at that point? And presumably there was a 200% uplift and a switch from notional to real for the whole of 2005, although the election was in May not January.

The MP meanwhile PAID THE PARTY £3,472.30 in rent from his parliamentary allowances and they also trousered a rates rebate of 846.18 which is about 50% of the 03 figure or perhaps transitional relief of some sort over the reduced figure for 04.

The simplified sums on the premises transactions would be:


From MP allowances £3,472.30
From Council £846.18
From RRB Limited £1,793.00
From Council £1,600 approx waived BR as compared with 04

TOTAL £7,911.48


To Rent: £2,000
To etc: £257.72

TOTAL £2,257.72

PROFIT TO POLITICAL PARTY from MP presence: £5,653.76

Plus all the other stuff. Like having political workers paid by the MP for instance.

I have no idea why the accounts were submitted in 2005 as the declared turnover was less than £25,000 and I've no idea why the comparator year carried forward from 2004 is so different with expenditures at £11,579.91 than the total declared in the 2004 accounts which was £32,202.59.

No idea either why there are no further donations shown from RRB Limited in 06 and 07 and 08.

No idea either why no notified income from the Group. Have they stopped contributing to the party's costs?

Who by the way are the Directors of RRB Limited then and now?

And yes, what about the other constituencies in the district?

Isn't that Cllr Elwyn Wotsit a Sheik's Financial Adviser?? Perhaps he can explain this lot?

08 October, 2008 12:39

No comments: