One of Labour's biggest donors is behind a project to build a 15,000-home eco-town, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.D'ya think there might possibly be oodles of cash in this if someone could overcome all of the usual regulatory hurdles to then build thousands of new homes on currently agricultural land?
The Co-operative Group is bidding to build an eco-town called Pennbury on land it owns between Stoughton and Great Glen in Leicester.How very New Labour that it's the Co-operative group; it's almost like some new form of Kibbutzism!
However, objectors are circulating literature pointing out that Labour received £500,000 from the group in 2005/06 and has a £13.5 million overdraft with the Co-operative Bank, an offshoot of the group.Quelle surprise, monsieur!
The Co-operative Party, which supports the Co-op Group's activities, sponsors 22 Labour MPs, including Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary. Mr Balls is married to Yvette Cooper, who announced the eco-town project to find 15 sites for environmentally friendly towns last year when she was Housing Minister.This must all be a terrific co-incidence. I'm shocked, shocked to hear that Ed Balls is involved in all of this.
Phil Hope, the minister for the East Midlands – which includes Pennbury – is also sponsored by the Co-operative Party.Well, 'tis a small world, mon amis.
Kevin Feltham, the chairman of Campaign Against the Stoughton Co-op Eco-Town, has said that the Co-operative Group has had previous applications to build on its land turned down.Fear ye not; I'm fairly confident that they won't be turned down again.
"How many people realise that the Co-op Group is a major donor to the Labour Party? It really is at this stage that you think of it as sleaze. That's all that one can think, because it stinks," said Mr Feltham.No, Mr Feltham, calm down. There must be a perfectly rational explanation behind all of this. And I do hope you're not suggesting that a UK government minister would ever do anything improper with regard to personal gain? That would be a foul calumny.
Grant Shapps, the shadow housing minister, said: "When you consider that this application has already been rejected, it is surprising to see it come back into the list of 15.Personally, I'm bowled over.
"It is not surprising that local people are starting to draw conclusions from the obvious connections between the Co-op Group and the Labour Party."I'm confident you will find that the plans for this have been made fully available in the filing cabinet downstairs, in the locked cellar, behind the picture of the leopard.
A Co-operative Group spokesman said: "Our plan for an eco-town is on the shortlist for one reason alone – because we have successfully demonstrated to the Government that we can meet the criteria......And that we have bought all of the smeggers hook, line, and sinker, and we'll cut them all off at the knees if they forget which side of the bread their butter is located.
"We have discussed our proposals with local MPs – both Labour and Conservative. We have not, however, held any meetings to discuss them at ministerial level, [with] Phil Hope or otherwise."Or telephone calls, or dinner parties, or strolls in the park. God forbid, no.
In the fine words of the late great Terry Thomas; what an absolute shower.