SUSSEX EXPRESS DEC 2014 - At a packed public meeting, Nusrat Ghani was chosen to become Wealden Conservative’s Parliamentary Candidate for the General Election in 2015, when Charles Hendry retires after 14 years’ service as the constituency’s MP.

Wealden Conservatives elected to hold a public primary to give every voter the right to choose their next candidate rather than just restrict the process to Party members.

They had four candidates: Edward Argar, Tony Caldeira and Helen Whately and, of course, Nus. Their interviewer was former MP, Rob Haywood.

More than 400 voters registered to attend, with more non-members than members. The room was packed with local community champions, representatives and leaders from across the Wealden district.

All four candidates told the meeting what they would do for Wealden and then took questions from the floor - familiar refrains were on health, education, welfare reform and immigration at the national level as well as questions around local hospitals, businesses, high street, transport network and fracking at the local level.

Huw Merriman, chairman of Wealden Conservatives, said: “All four candidates gave brilliant, but different, performances and gave the voting audience real choice and, as evidenced by the voting figures, a dilemma as to who to pick.

“At the second ballot, Nus emerged victorious and was accompanied into the hall by Charles Hendry MP who passed the baton over. It was poignant that the defeated candidates joined the hall - they will all find constituencies and make brilliant MPs.

“Nus is a truly inspiring candidate and role-model who will make an excellent local MP and a contribution to national politics. We welcome Nus and her family and we wish Charles Hendry an enjoyable final 18 months as our excellent MP. Charles will be as much missed as Nus will feel welcomed.”

Nus said: “I am humbled and honoured at being selected and am looking forward to meeting people from across Wealden constituency.

“The Wealden Association made the bold choice of having an open primary and the fact that so many people showed up was fantastic and shows that, if you give local people an opportunity to engage in local democracy, you will get a great response.

“I will start working immediately with Charles Hendry MP and will run practical campaigns on issues that matter to local people.”



Nusrat Ghani takes over from Charles Hendry, the former Wealden MP who married an heiress and retired to a stately home after allegations of improper links to Russian big business. Charles Hendry failed to investigate claims of corruption in the Wealden District that he was responsible for, involving the non-investigation of allegations by 12 Petitioners who's cases were referred to the Sussex Police, but about which a case file was never opened and no crime number was recorded. Ms Ghani needs to know about the murky past to be able to steer her region into clear waters.


The fact that serious matters were referred to a British constabulary and not investigated sounds bad enough, but then a letter was read out at a full council meeting as if it had been written by Sussex Police claiming that a police investigation had cleared Wealden District Council's planning and legal officers of serious wrongdoing. It is alleged that the letter was written on police headed paper by the officers the subject of the complaints.


The Lord Newton, the councillor who headed the panel supposedly looking into the complaints by members of the public, ruled all of the issues put on the table before himself, Eddie Powell and Jack Gore as beyond his remit. He then agreed with one of the petitioners that the issues his panel had ruled themselves unable to deal with should be investigated by the police.


One of the issues that Lord Newton's panel ruled as not very serious, was the unlawful demolition of an animal sanctuary at Bushy Wood. This sentiment was echoed by the then Leader of Wealden District Council, Valerie Chidson, in a public statement reported by the media. Shortly after reading this statement Valerie Chidson stood down. Much later Jack Gore was caught out failing to declare an interest when he helped a friend get permission to convert a farm building and resigned, making way for Ann Newton to lead on planning issues at Wealden.


Some of the petitioner's complaints involved the assistant district planning officer Ian Kay, who was married to the daughter of Denis Bernard Best a builder in the Eastbourne area who was a prominent Mason and past Master of Tyrian Lodge. Nearly all of the officers and members of this council knew about the conflict of interest that Kay himself had admitted in the cases of applications by D B Best numbered: WD/84/2849 (Summer Hill) and WD/85/1244 (Corins Restaurant).


It is interesting but not yet known to be a factor, that the former owner of the stables at Bushy Wood was Gordon Worcester, a builder in competition with other builders in Eastbourne, who lived in Polegate. Ian Kay was involved in the Bushy Wood case, giving evidence at the Appeal Inquiry. We wonder if he should have been involved where Mr Worcester was a competing builder to his father-in-law, and perhaps Mr Kay should properly have declared an interest.


Another little known fact is that our own Queen Elizabeth the Second is a lady Mason.



Charles Hendry outside the Houses of Parliament



Fellow workers who knew about Ian Kay and Denis Best included: Charmain Allcock, Derek Holness, Ashley Brown, Timothy Dowsett, George White, J Douglas Moss and Victorio Scarpa. It appears that while an interest had been declared in these cases that Mr Kay may have been working in the background on the papers with his fellow officers covering for him, or at least putting their name to replies to correspondence in stead of Ian Kay.


This finally became revealed in the applications by Denis Best numbered WD/85/2981, WD/86/0027, WD/87/2089 and WD/87/3194 (Sandcastle) at Pevensey Bay. It is alleged that what happened was that having gotten so used to his fellow officers turning a blind eye to his working for his father-in-law behind the scenes, Ian Kay brazenly spoke in open session about the Sandcastle application during an Area Plans South committee meeting. He was pulled up about this by one of the Members of the Council present - at which point he hastily gathered his papers and left the chamber.


It appears that there was a conspiracy of silence among his fellow workers, where George White was sitting beside Ian Kay at this meeting and said nothing about Kay speaking on this application. If the Member present who asked about this conflict had not said anything, we are sure Ian Kay would have carried on, because he should not have been in the chamber in the first place.



Blair Castle, home of Charles Hendry Conservative MP


BLAIR CASTLE - Not so much a castle as a large manor house with slate roofs. Can you imagine the heating bills for this house? Estates like this contribute to global warming unless the owners install ground heat pumps and other micro generation features external to the extant buildings such as not to harm any archaeological interest. This should be the responsibility of all owners of country estates to comply with the tenets of the Climate Change Act 2008 - as Mr Hendry would know from his time as an Environment Minister. He might also drive an electric car. We look forward to an update on his efforts to tackle global warming, walking the walk, instead of talking the talk.




SIR GEOFFREY - heard a number of complaints about Wealden District Council's officers but failed to investigate either one.  Sir Geoffrey failed to intervene when the Sanctuary at Bushy Wood was bulldozed.  He also did nothing to urge this council to prevent Anne Harris's home being torn down around her, for which Wealden were found guilty of maladministration.  Later when Anne was again under attack from Wealden's enforcement officers, again her local MP did nothing.





Sue Harvey was the assistant to Ian Kay during the hearing of a Public Inquiry into an application for a Lawful Development Certificate at Stream Farm at Horam in Sussex. We know for a fact that Ian Kay gave evidence at this hearing also from a recording of the proceedings.


During this hearing and while on oath, Ian Kay denied knowledge of an aerial photograph and denied that Wealden District Council used aerial photographs in the process of determining planning applications.


Both of these statements were untrue. Wealden paid a lot of tax payer's money to acquire aerial photographs specifically to help in the determination of appeal cases as per a SPED report on the subject. The aerial photograph was a poor monochrome version of a photograph that was in Ian Kay's file on this case with a handwritten note by Sue Harvey to: "return to IMK."


For his appeal, the appellant did not acquire any aerial photographs of his site, but after sight of the picture supplied by the council he voluntarily amended his application to exclude one area of poly tunnels. When asked about the aerial photograph Ian Kay said he had no idea where that picture came from.


In our view planning official as corrupt as Ian Kay had no business occupying a position of trust as an officer of the court. We can say the same for his co-conspirators, where they were party to the attempts to pervert the course of justice as per the Accessories And Abettors Act 1861.




Ian Kay was involved in the case of the old generating station at Herstmonceux where Wealden District Council denied the originality of the buildings at appeal in 1987 and 1997. His initials were on papers dating from 1984 and he attended a site meeting in connection with an application in 1998/99. Ashley Brown, George White and J D Moss were also involved in this case, Mr Kay's co-conspirators on the Sandcastle application.


In this case Mr Kay did not have to declare an interest, but all of the co-conspirators worked together to deceive Inspectors: Raymond Dannreuther and Raymond Michael. They all knew that the building was original, but led these Inspectors and a number of High Court Judges to believe that they were not.


This constituted a long-running effort on the part of all of those concerned to bury the truth and bury the then occupier, which also included an attempt to bankrupt their victim using a costs order that had been obtained by deception seeking the removal of toilet facilities.


There are more examples of the above from the Petition case files. This is the kind of misuse of public office that we hope Ms Ghani will do her best to eradicate while she is the Member of Parliament for Wealden. We say this because she appears in a number of photographs with member and officers of this Council. For the avoidance of doubt, we are not saying that Ms Ghani knew anything about these issues when taking office. We are simply saying 'Buyer Beware.'


Before Charles Hendry, Sir Geoffrey Johnson-Smith was confronted with the allegations of corruption in Wealden District Council, and like his successor, he failed to investigate any of the matters raised. There is thus a pattern of acquiescence or professional negligence or something else along those lines, that is disturbing to say the least.


In terms of planning, a development is either right or wrong according to National Policy - and not because Wealden District Council say it is. This is borne out by the fact that they have been proven wrong time and time again during appeal situations.




Other important issues that Nus Ghani might want to take a look at is the failure of Wealden to meet climate change targets with a Nottingham Agreement that falls far short in terms of the Climate Change Act 2008.


Wealden DC has no electric charging points in their own car park to encourage their staff to use electric vehicles. That they have nothing positive in this regard planned, it is small wonder that Theresa May's Climate Action Plan is vague to say the least. We do though live in hope that one or our Governments gets to grip with the enormity of the challenge to electrify Britain's transport, if only for the sake of reducing our energy imports and so improving our budget deficit. This is because electric cars (at the moment) are the only low carbon vehicles that can use electricity from wind turbines and solar farms






 Thatcherism - it is unfortunate that Glenda Jackson's comments about Margaret Thatcher are quite correct. The fact that Margaret got so much so wrong for so long, does not do away with the fact that she was allowed to lead the company 












Charles Hendry called to stand down over links to Russian buisness interests





One of David Cameron's trade envoys and former ministers is facing calls to stand down over for his links to a pro-Russian business group.

Charles Hendry, a Tory MP and former energy minister, is listed as president of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, leading an advisory council that includes one of Vladimir Putin's wealthy allies whose firm recently struck an oil deal with Syria and an ex-chief of the Russian arms company that designed Buk missiles.

The prime minister has said Russia cannot expect to continue enjoying access to European markets and pushed for stronger sanctions against the country, after both the UK and US said they strongly suspect the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was struck down in Ukraine by separatists using Russian-made Buk missiles.

At the same time, the business group advised by Cameron's own trade envoy is promoting commerce with Russia. A statement on its website says it firmly believes the country continues to represent "an attractive investment and trading destination".

Without mentioning the Malaysian airliner disaster, the statement said it was "concerned that the recent and ongoing developments in Ukraine and the reaction of the international community will lead to disruption in trade and business relations between Russia and the UK".

Several members of its advisory council have current or past links to the Russian government. One is Igor Ashurbeyli, who until 2011 was a senior director-general at Almaz-Antey, the Russian defence company that designed Buk missile systems. Last week, the US named Almaz-Antey on its sanctions list, describing the company as making "surface-to-air missile systems currently used by the Russian military".

Another is Yuri Shafranik, a former Kremlin energy minister, who has since gone on to be chairman of SoyuzNefteGaz, which signed a major oil exploration deal with president Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime in December.

On the British side, the patron of the chamber of commerce is Prince Michael of Kent, and members of the advisory council also include businessmen from BP, Ernst & Young, PwC and Baker & McKenzie. Its annual dinner was picketed earlier this year by Ukrainian protesters.

Contacted by the Guardian, Hendry said he was asked some time ago to take over as president of the advisory council "as part of the process of renewing and re-energising" it but that had been put on hold. He said he had never met Ashurbeyli or Shafranik.

"Clearly, there is an important role for the chamber to perform in assisting British companies operating in Russia, and especially in advising them on how to abide by the letter and spirit of any sanctions," he said. "The RBCC is a 'bridge organisation' working in both countries, but naturally its UK members, board and executive will abide by UK sanctions in the same way that its Russian members will abide by the dictates of their government."

He has condemned the shooting down of MH17 as a "terrible crime" and stressed anything he does in relation to Russia is done "with the knowledge and agreement of the FCO and our embassy".

Hendry, who is not paid for his government role, took a £2,200 trip with his wife to Moscow, staying in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, at the expense of the chamber of commerce to speak at a conference in 2012. He is also paid £60,000 a year to work one and a half days a month as a consultant to Vitol, an oil trader that has loaned billions to Russian state oil company Rosneft.

Downing Street would not comment on Hendry's business links but Conservative sources defended his position, saying the government was not advocating the end of all trade with Russia.

John Mann, a Labour MP, said Hendry should step down as an envoy and have the whip withdrawn.

"This organisation is encouraging trade with Russia," he said. "This is the opposite of the sanctions that we require, that the government says we are pursuing. How can he possibly retain this role when he is an advocate for even more trade with Russia. His position is totally untenable. David Cameron should act to remove him."

The controversy over Hendry comes on top of intense scrutiny over links between the Tory party and wealthy Russian donors. Boris Johnson, London's mayor, has said he could back out of a tennis match auctioned at a Conservative fundraiser for £160,000 to the wife of a former minister in Vladimir Putin's government.

Johnson was due to play a match with David Cameron and Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of Vladimir Chernukhin, deputy finance minister under Putin in 2000. The game was the star lot at the Tory summer party last month. But amid growing concern at Russian funding of the party, the mayor said on Wednesday he wanted the winning bidder to be vetted.

"It is very important full checks are carried out to make sure this is not someone who is an intimate or a crony [of Putin]," he said.

The prime minister insisted on Wednesday he would not take money from any "crony" of Putin, but Electoral Commisson records reveal that Kremlin-linked businesses have donated more than £100,000 to the party in the past five years.

Cash donors to Tory central office include a firm led by a Russian banker who has facilitated investments by the Kremlin's $10bn (£5.86bn) Russian Direct Investment Fund and Russian oil group Lukoil. Natalia Tsukanova has advised several Russian companies with state-ownership and her Moscow-based company, Xenon Capital Partners, gave £10,000 to the Conservative party in 2010.

A London based public relations firm which has represented several allies of Putin also gave the Conservatives £91,000 in 2009 and 2010 and has spent several thousand pounds on tables at Conservative fundraising events since then. New Century Media, headed by the former Northern Ireland unionist MP David Burnside, has made introductions with David Cameron for Vasily Shestakov, Putin's judo partner and an MP in the Russian Duma who had been given the job of improving Russia's reputation in the UK.

On Wednesday Labour MP John Healey wrote to Cameron demanding he rethink whether the party should keep Russian funding. He wrote: "When leader of the opposition in 2008 you went as far as to say, 'Russian armies can't march into other countries while Russian shoppers carry on marching into Selfridges', and yet ...while the Russian army marches in to Ukraine you seem content to base your re-election campaign on Russian funds. Since you set this moral standard while leader of the opposition, I believe it is now vital that you make a public judgment and justification of whether you and your party will keep the money you have received."

A Tory spokesman said: "All donations to the Conservative party are fully permissible and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission and published on their website." A Tory source added: "If John Healey has any evidence of impropriety he should show it. Our donors don't choose our candidates, pick our leader or dictate our policies. Labour's do."

Cameron has also been forced to re-examine arms exports to Russia after the Commons committee on export control identified £130m of sales despite the sanctions. The government argues none of these have gone to military sources, citing the example of parts that went to a Brazilian ship that happened to be docked in Russia.

However, Cameron said the government would conduct extra checks to reassure the public. "I believe that we have been consistent with the terms of the arms embargo that we set out which was principally aimed at Russian armed forces and the use of goods and involvement in Ukraine but we will look very carefully at all outstanding licences and make sure that's the case and of course if it's not the case we would want to act very swiftly," he said. By Rowena Mason and Robert Booth




POTHOLE POLITICS - Here are a couple of pictures of just one pothole in Hailsham out of literally hundreds. Where are all our tax dollars going? These days its more like taking a ride on the dodgems at a fair than a trip out to do the shopping. It's real life dodging the pothole and opps, nearly hit that car on the other side of the road - and opps, oh s-it that one got me and it didn't sound good. Ouch, another one I could not avoid and so on until eventually you damage your suspension, a tyre or hit another car coming the other way - that is probably dodging a pothole on his side of the road. How many children on cycles have been run down or injured because of British potholes.




The picture above of the roundabout near Herstmonceux Primary School, is a success story where there was a huge pothole that caught out almost every motorist using this B road. We are pleased to say that Highways (or whoever) has repaired this very dangerous obstacle - so well done for that. But, further along on the way to Hailsham and near the Fruit Farm, there is another very nasty pothole that is getting bigger by the day.


We were under the impression that the Council responsible for highway repairs owes us a duty of care. This is called the Wednesbury Rule in local government parlance. How about it chaps, can we expect to see some hot tar being poured any time soon?


Maybe we should start selling holidays for tourists where they win prizes for counting the most potholes in the shortest journey. Maybe we should hire out giant dodgem cars (the new Fiat 500 is about the right shape) and crash helmets to visitors to this country. The object of this game is to avoid the potholes with your dodgem and try to knock other motorists into holes near them. What must foreign visitors be thinking about the plethora of tarmac caverns that lurk around every corner in the UK to catch out even the most experienced drivers. You might as well turn a negative into a positive and try and earn a few more bob. That way the road might improve.


Alternatively, we might have roads the domain of villages and towns. Take away the grants to county councils who are not doing their job. Motorists in these town and village envelopes will not pay into a central road fund, but look after the roads in their patch only. The only highways entrusted to central government would be motorways. Why? Because they cannot be trusted with our money.


This is a problem that Ms Ghani might want to take a look at. And, does she drive a low carbon vehicle? Because if she does you can't charge it at the council offices in Hailsham. Copyright © photographs 27 February 2018 Cleaner Ocean Foundation. All rights reserved. You will need the permission of the copyright holder to use these pictures except for private study or other educational use.




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