SUPERMARKET-GATE: Pop Jolley denies collusion allegations made by the developer he claims he once turned down for �40,000 loan

A FENLAND councillor alleged today that he was once asked to lend �40,000 to Richard Sears, one of two developers vying to build a supermarket in Whittlesey.

Councillor Pop Jolley’s claim is contained in documents revealed by Fenland District Council as part of an inquiry into ‘Supermarket-Gate’.

Cllr Jolley, the Cabinet member for leisure, is facing allegations he had a business relationship with rival developer Bruce Smith.

As part of a fact finding effort by the council letters and emails has been made public.

First complaint against Cllr Jolley surfaced in September from Liz Dent, the partner of Mr Sears who runs Harrier Development and the firm behind the Tesco bid for a Whittlesey store.

Ms Dent insisted Cllr Jolley ought not to be in any Cabinet meetings relating to the issue since she alleged he “is known to us as a business associate of Mr Bruce Smith of Whitacre Management” and the man heading the Sainsbury’s bid.

However Cllr Jolley hit back and insisted “I have had no business relationship with Whitacre Management Ltd whatsoever”.

Most Read

Cllr Jolley added: “I have known both applicants for a number of years and have had no dealings with these planning applications as I regarded both as friends”.

Ms Dent has produced a signed statement from Alfred James Investments claiming that in 2011 they were approached to buy options on land on the A141 Fenland Way at Chatteris.

They claim both Cllr Jolley and Bruce Smith were “acting together with regard to acquiring an interest in the land”. They also alleged it was intended to build a Sainsbury’s on the site.

The company is run by the James brothers who claimed that as consent had already been given to Harrier for land next door for Tesco the assumption was they were “trying to thwart” that deal.

The brothers say they offered the land to Cllr Jolley and Mr Smith for �750,000 but “as suspected we never heard anything else from them”.

The claims are denied by both Cllr Jolley and Mr Smith.

What happens to the investigation will be considered by the council’s conduct committee later this month.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter