December 5 2013 Latest news:
By John Elworthy , The Editor
Thursday, October 11, 2012
MANEA based property developers Harrier Developments claimed tonight that Fenland Cabinet member and millionaire property developer Pop Jolley tried to scupper their plans for a supermarket in Chatteris.
The sensational allegations were made public by Liz Dent of ICIS Consulting, the associated company also run from the Day Lode Road, Manea, home of Harrier’s boss Richard Sears.
Ms Dent first raised her fears in September in a letter sent to Ian Hunt, chief solicitor to Fenland District Council and following my report of a special Cabinet meeting called to discuss what’s become known locally as ‘supermarket-gate’.
Harrier Developments won permission for a Chatteris supermarket – ironically after a planning meeting at which Council Leader Alan Melton spoke out in support as a local ward member,
But Ms Dent says their efforts were frustrated by Councillor Pop Jolley who they allege had teamed up with rival developer Bruce Smith – the man behind Sainsbury’s Whittlesey store bid- to scupper Harrier’s scheme.
Of a planned Cabinet meeting to discuss options for Whittlesey, Ms Dent wrote at the time to Mr Hunt that “we wish to express our concerns to the appropriateness of Cllr Jolley attending and participating in such a meeting as we feel that he cannot be viewed as an impartial observer”.
Ms Dent adds: “We do feel it appropriate to highlight that Cllr Jolley is known to us as a business associate of Mr Smith of Whitacre Management”.
ICIS acted for Harrier in acquiring the land at Fenland Way for which planning consent was later agreed for a Tesco store and Travis Perkins builders’ merchant, she said.
“One of the landowners with whom Harried acquired a land interest from was Mr Stephen James,” said Ms Dent.
“During my dealings with Mr James in early 2011, Mr Smith and Cllr Jolley both made direct approaches to Mr James to acquire his land. Mr James is willing is willing to verify this”.
She added that both Cllr Jolley and Mr Smith put forward business proposals to Chatteris Cricket Club to develop their site.
In her letter Ms Dent concludes her intention is simply to “bring awareness to your council of the business relationship between Mr Smith and Cllr Jolley. Whilst we are unaware if Cllr Jolley’s business relationship includes the proposals at Whittlesey, it is the case that they were business associates in relation to the land at Chatteris in 2011.
“We hope that your council will take these matters into consideration.”
Mr Smith tonight dismissed the allegations but did agree he had been approached by “a local electrician I think who reckoned he had been offered £750,000 for his land by Mr Sears and did I want to better it. I politely told him where to go but wished him luck in getting his money.”