ANDREW PIERCE: Robert Jenrick, developer's darling or pal to poorest?

ANDREW PIERCE: Is Robert Jenrick a developer’s darling… or a pal to the poorest?

During a Commons debate earlier this year, Robert Jenrick singled out one vital planning policy that helps deprived communities.

The Housing Secretary argued it was right that developers making huge sums from major housing schemes should pay the so-called Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to local councils, which can then spend the cash on schools, health centres, roads and so on.

Declaring that the tax went to ‘crucial’ causes, Mr Jenrick added: ‘As a result of changes we have made recently, there will shortly be greater transparency so that residents can see where this money is going.’

Transparency? The beleaguered minister is clinging to his job by his fingertips after being accused of rushing through planning approval of a £1 billion housing project so developer Richard Desmond — who happens to be a Tory donor — could avoid paying a £45 million CIL bill.

That money would have gone to Tower Hamlets in East London, one of the most deprived boroughs in Britain.

The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick argued it was right that developers making huge sums from major housing schemes should pay the so-called Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to local councils

The beleaguered minister is clinging to his job by his fingertips after being accused of rushing through planning approval of a £1 billion housing project so developer Richard Desmond — who happens to be a Tory donor — could avoid paying a £45 million CIL bill

Overheard in the Commons: two MPs talking about the cancellation of the daily Downing Street press briefings. ‘They should replace them in the broadcasting schedule with the TV show Pointless,’ mutters one. ‘It would be a seamless transition.’ 

Sacking is a poser for Rayner

Oh to be a fly on the wall in the home of Rebecca Long-Bailey and Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner (the two women share a flat in London when they are not with their families in their constituencies).

Hard-Lefter Long-Bailey was sacked from the Shadow Cabinet last week by party leader Sir Keir Starmer after she retweeted an article containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. How awkward it must have been for her and her flatmate over the toast and marmalade the next morning.

In July, the speakers in an online union event organised by the TUC include both Rayner and the Corbynista actress Maxine Peake — whose inaccurate article Wrong-Daily retweeted, leading to her defenestration.

Will Rayner now refuse to share a platform with ex-Communist Peake? Sir Keir will be watching.

Our TV is truly blue, says Gyles

Gyles Brandreth has been watching more television than usual while taking part in the Channel 4 series Celebrity Gogglebox.

The former Tory MP says these days it is almost impossible to find a TV show that doesn’t feature swear words — and worse. He points out that in 1967, after watching an episode of Till Death Us Do Part that included 44 uses of the word ‘bloody’, guardian of public morality Mary Whitehouse cried: ‘This is the end of civilisation as we know it!’

‘For better or worse, it turns out she was right,’ Brandreth tells The Oldie magazine.

Despair at the Government’s neglect of the theatre industry during the pandemic prompted casting director Sarah-Jane Price to suggest: ‘We should all go sing musicals really loudly outside Parliament until they listen to us.’ The Sound Of Music being belted out repeatedly in Parliament Square will surely spur MPs to action.

Leading Lib Dem Sir Ed Davey is churning out parliamentary written questions at the rate of 50 a week to make his mark ahead of his party’s leadership contest in six weeks’ time. Civil servants estimate each question costs £140 to answer, so that’s £7,000 a week. If Sir Ed keeps it up, it could end up costing the taxpayer more than £80,000 — a lot of public cash to influence a contest most voters don’t give two hoots about. 

Labour-controlled Camden in North London was one of the first councils to cry financial hardship because of Covid-19, warning of a £43 million hole in its finances that would grow if the crisis continued.

This is the council that, in a closed meeting last year, hiked its annual allowances for committee chairmen by 66 per cent to £9,000, and boosted cabinet members’ allowances by 54 per cent to £25,000.

Council leader Georgia Gould, daughter of the late New Labour founder Lord Gould, should know exactly where to make savings.

Labour-controlled Camden in North London was one of the first councils to cry financial hardship because of Covid-19, warning of a £43 million hole in its finances that would grow if the crisis continued

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