Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Sixth Report

Annex O

File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

14 MARCH 2001

Mr Beggs came to see me at his request to check that there was no further information which I required. He brought with him a letter from Customs and Excise which clarified that he is currently the licencee of the site at Ballyrickard Road and is therefore responsible for the landfill tax.

Mr Beggs had previously copied to me his request to Larne Borough Council to transfer the licence to Mr McKee. Mr Beggs has been informed by an officer that the request is likely to be considered by the relevant council committee on Monday next, the 19th March and would then go to full council on Monday, 2nd of April.

I asked Mr Beggs for some further clarification on matters which I had noticed from the material which already have been provided to me. I asked him whether Larne Borough Council was the only body with which Mr McKee has made a commercial arrangement for tipping on the site. Mr Beggs confirmed that as far as he was aware, this was the case.

I asked Mr Beggs about the development potential of the Inver Road site. Mr Beggs told me it was a site of 7 acres, although 3 of those acres are a site running along the river and unlikely to be developable. The rest of the site, 4½ acres, is within the development zone. Mr Topping's application is likely to be for residential development. The next door site has already been developed for residential use.

I said to Mr Beggs that the information he had provided about his 'Gentleman's Agreement' with Mr Topping indicated that Mr Topping could close down the business at any time by calling in the debt. Mr Beggs said he supposed that was so but Mr Topping was only trying to help the business as he was a successful business man.

Mr Beggs asked me what the process was and the timescale for dealing with this matter. I said that I was waiting for the two confirmatory pieces of information, one from the Planning Services Agency and one from Dr. Sloane. I had been informed that Dr. Sloane was away until Monday. As soon as I had got it, I would complete my draft report and let him have the opportunity to check it prior to writing my conclusions. I said I hoped that this would be some time during next week so that it could go to the Committee on the following Tuesday, but I was dependent on replies from these other bodies.

Mr Beggs told me that he hoped the whole episode was now sorted out as he had found the whole episode embarrassing and hoped that it would be concluded shortly. He said the inappropriate tipping had certainly been sorted out.


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Prepared 29 March 2001