Henley by-election campaign ups pressure over developer links

The Liberal Democrat Henley by-election campaign has upped the pressure today on John Howell, the Conservative candidate, over his controversial links to property developers.

From the party’s press release:

The Liberal Democrats have today written to the Conservative candidate in the Henley by-election, John Howell, urging him to clarify his links to property developers for the sake of local residents.

Mr Howell has so far failed to deny his links to a firm that helps property developers build on green belt and green field sites.

Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats, Lord Rennard said:

“Local people deserve to know the full facts about John Howell’s links to property developers. Protecting the countryside is a vital issue in this election.

“John Howell’s links to firms that want to develop in controversial locations poses questions about his suitability to be the local MP.

“Many people will think it is hypocritical of John Howell to have such strong links to developers whilst saying on his election literature that he wants to ‘Defend South Oxfordshire’s Green Belt’.”

Text of Chris Rennard’s letter:

I am sure you would like the opportunity to present your case regarding your links to property developers to local residents. Could you please clarify your situation by responding to the following questions? 

1. Will you list all the clients you have advised or trained for Savills Hepher Dixon? 

2. Will you list all the clients you have advised for Write Angle PR? 

3. Will you list all the clients you have advised or trained for Dialogue? 

4. Why have you chosen not to declare your work for Savills Hepher Dixon and Write Angle PR in your Register of Interests on Oxfordshire County Council? 

5. Have you ever been involved in advising Savills Hepher Dixon or their clients or any other property developers on applications to build on greenfield or Green Belt sites? 

6. Which developments were you referring to when you described “large and contentious land and property developments” on your Write Angle PR website?

7. Have you advised or trained Roger Smith, Director (Oxford) of Savills Hepher Dixon who is described on the company’s website: ‘expertise is principally the promotion if major residential schemes, both brownfield and greenfield’?

8. Are there any other firms involved in planning issues or property development that you receive financial gain from?

9. Do you receive a retainer, salary, dividend, share of profits or any other payment from Savills Hepher Dixon?

10. Have you ever received a retainer, salary, dividend, share of profits or any other payment from firms connected to property developers?

11. Have any of the people you have trained or advised been involved with any developments in Oxfordshire on greenfield or Green Belt land?

12. Have you ever been in a business partnership with individuals that have links to property developers? 

I hope that your answers to these questions will enable local residents to come to a considered opinion as to which candidate is in the best position to defend the local countryside.

I would be grateful if you could provide me with an immediate response to my questions. 

Yours sincerely,

Lord Rennard
Chief Executive, Liberal Democrats 

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