It was round one to the Isle of Wight Council this week, when MP, Bob Seely, was forced to correct a ‘key achievement’ listed on his website.
A bout of words broke out when Mr Seely claimed, on his website, that “Bob secured” a £4 million uplift in government grant to the Island. Cllr Phil Jordan, the leader of the Isle of Wight Council, pulled no punches in condemning the MP for claiming the credit for any increase, describing it as “a complete distortion of the facts”. He described how senior officers had spent hundreds of hours supplying evidence and answering questions from government about the costs of delivering services.
Cllr Jordan also condemned the alleged amount of £3 million, yet to be confirmed, saying the council had demonstrated that between £10m and £28m was needed to “simply balance up our inequality with the mainland”.
A strict convention says that such announcements should be made by ministers to parliament, not released by local MPs. Both Mr Seely and minister, Simon Hoare, who he claims told him the figures failed to confirm to the IW Observer that Mr Seely had been given authority to reveal the sum.
Quickly realising he was on the ropes, Mr Seely threw in the towel, and changed his website to say he had been “working with council officers” on the task.
However, Mr Seely has repeatedly failed to give information about other claims made on his website. He says he “helped secure” a £10 million grant for broadband and £20 million for Ryde, that he “secured priority funding status” from the Arts Council and that he “ensured” Southern Vectis was eligible for the £2 bus cap scheme.
On-line checks on government and Arts Council websites show that grant allocations and eligibility for these schemes are based entirely on objective and publicly available data or information.
We asked Mr Seely for evidence that he had any involvement with the decisions above. He would not give any details but said: “I have no doubt that any future Labour or Coalition government would take this away from the Island. To continue getting that better deal for the Island, we need to stick with the Conservatives, not go back to square one with Labour.” However, the claims, which appear to be false, remain on his website.
Labour councillor, Richard Quigley, who first noticed the discrepancies in the claims said: “Mr Seely failed to respond to the IW Observer, when we pointed out to him that MPs are required to uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life, which include Openness, Accountability and Honesty!”
Three of the seven Principles of Public Life
Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and
actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and
transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public
unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
Holders of public office should be truthful.