Councillor says MP Steve Barclay told Tories to return £10k lockdown grant

Cllr Will Sutton tells other Fenland councillors a 'little dickie bird' told him MP Steve Barclay had asked his local...

Cllr Will Sutton tells other Fenland councillors a 'little dickie bird' told him MP Steve Barclay had asked his local Conservative association to return a £10,000 lockdown grant - Credit: FDC/House of Commons

Independent councillor Will Sutton claims that MP Steve Barclay called for his constituency association to return a £10,000 small business rate relief grant they received from the Government.  

Mr Barclay, the MP for NE Cambs and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was said by Cllr Sutton to have “suggested” to the North East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association (NECCA) the cash be returned.  

NECCA was one of many successful applicants to Fenland District Council who received £20m during the pandemic last year to support business.  

Last December the council was told that in addition to the money to NECCA, Conservative clubs in Whittlesey, two in Wisbech, and another in Chatteris each received £10,000. 

A grant of £10,000 was also paid to the March and district Conservatives and Unionist Club as part of the retail, hospitality and leisure scheme. 

Cllr Sutton told Fenland Council that the “£10,000 of public money awarded to NECCA was perfectly legal”.  

However, he said the morality of the payment was a different matter.  

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He didn’t care if the political organisation was “blue, red, grey or pink the right thing to do is return it. It was meant for struggling businesses”. 

“I know it has not broken any rules–but is it morally right for that to happen?” he asked council leader Chris Boden. “Many and various political offices across the county have not claimed or paid it back.” 

Cllr Sutton said: “Everyone I have spoken to thinks it was not the right thing to do, not what it was for. 

“I also had a dicky bird tell me that my view is shared by our local MP, who may I say I have the utmost respect for 

“My understanding is that he wrote a letter to the NECCA office suggesting that NECCA send it back. I don’t know if that is wright or wrong. 

“But clearly if the MP thinks it's wrong, I certainly think it is wrong, and clearly everyone else thinks it's wrong maybe NECCA office is having second thoughts?  

Cllr Boden, the former NECCA agent before he became council leader, said small business grants were not discretionary and there were “very specific rules” set down by Government over who should get them.  

Mr Barclay has declined to comment.