Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Sixth Report

Annex A

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
from Councillor John Anderson


I have, last week, contacted Larne Borough Council (Chief Executive and Chief Environmental Health Officer), the Chief Local Government Auditor (N.I.), Mr J Buchanan and H.M. Customs and Excise regarding a landfill site at Ballyrickard Road Larne owned by, and licenced to Mr Beggs.

There are a number of issues relating which I believe constitute unacceptable practice on the part of an MP.

1.  The site was licenced (licence no. 01/94) for inert waste only, in 1994. Council records detail complaints indicating unlicenced tipping on the site prior to that year.

Neither the site nor any income derived from same are listed in the register of members' interests.

2.  Although the site is licenced for inert waste only, I have documentary and photographic evidence showing that, not only is the site used regularly to dispose of active waste, but that much of that active waste consists of material arising from Larne Borough Council contracts. This has been happening without the knowledge of senior Council staff and presumably evaded payment of Landfill Tax at the much higher active rate. The contractor is apparently a friend of Mr Beggs.

As a long serving Councillor, former Mayor and Chair of Finance Committee and MP for the area, Mr Beggs did not declare an interest when approving payments on these contracts at Council meetings.

It should also be explained that the site is a rural wetland area adjacent to a trout fishery and draining into a trout river which the local angling group is upgrading a re-stocking aided by grant of Public Money.

3.  The Borough Council awards such contracts as a Statutory Body and, as such, would expect that active waste material would be dealt with in accordance with the appropriate legislation and that Landfill Tax would be paid at the due rate at a properly licenced site.

I believe that, in this case, there has been at the very least, a serious betrayal of public trust.

4.  In our Borough at the moment there is a very contentious major planning application. The proposal involves the sale of the Council land and the loss of a one hundred year old public promenade and Public Right of Way in favour of a £13m private development of apartments and a marina. Planning Service has received over 2000 written objections to date.

Mr Beggs is on public record urging Councillors to reserve apartments at the marina for their retirement.

At a recent Council meeting a minute of a previous meeting was produced for ratification. Contained within was an apparent Council decision in favour of the scheme which, if ratified, would have been of great value to the developer. The minute hinged on what Cllr Beggs and a colleague had apparently proposed and was subsequently proved to be a fiction. I was harangued and berated by Cllr Beggs until I produced the transcript of the tape recording.

Cllr Beggs, another Cllr and a Council Officer have been unable, and have indeed refused, to offer any explanation.

5.  Ratepayers have suggested to me that Mr Beggs, possibly together with other individuals, has undeclared property interests, possibly in the Inver area of Larne.

I will be happy to furnish detail that you may require on these complaints.

6 February 2001

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