The one simple question our MP should answer

By Keith Newbery

Friday, November 30, 2012

 

THIS ISLAND LIFE ANDREW Turner has spent so much time recently dancing on the head of a pin, there is widespread concern about the condition of his poor, perforated feet.

When unequivocal, unambiguous replies were required to perfectly legitimate inquiries about details of his living arrangements in London, he chose instead to indulge in semantics and split hairs.

The simple facts are these.

He owns a flat in London, which seemed to meet his needs quite adequately until the expenses scandal meant the days of reclaiming mortgage interest were coming to an end.

So he decided to let that property and rent another nearby, thereby taking advantage of the new rules which permit MPs to claim up to £20,000 in rent every year.

That manoeuvre (though entirely legal) was widely regarded as unacceptable, because he was deemed to be drawing unnecessarily on public funds at a time when everyone else has to watch every penny.

That was bad enough but he compounded the error by his evasive and contradictory attitude to requests for details.

For example, discovering the identity of Mr Turner’s new landlord (it turned out to be a landlady) has been like trying to extract broken razor blades from a buffalo’s behind. First, he said he was unaware of his/her identity because the deal was arranged through a letting agency. Then it turned out to be a certain Lady Hill, the wife of an education minister, Lord Jonathan Hill.

Mr Turner then claimed he hardly knew Lord Hill, who was merely someone he had worked with at the Conservative research department about 30 years ago.

However, reporters at the County Press learnt our MP had been in contact with his lordship far more recently (this year, in fact) to arrange an academy information event for Island schools.

Ah, well, that’s not quite true, was Mr Turner’s unconvincing explanation.

His people and Lord Hill’s people had done all the groundwork. No direct contact was ever made between him and the good lord.

So, we are asked to believe that, by complete coincidence, our MP is renting a flat from the wife of a Conservative colleague he sort of knows but has not met for 30 years.

The irony is that most Islanders (including me) couldn’t give fig about the identity of Andrew Turner’s landlady.

It’s the fact he is renting one property at public expense, while letting out another he owns nearby, which is raising hackles to record levels.

But the reluctance with which this relatively meaningless information has had to be dragged from him has merely aroused further suspicion.

He then sought to obfuscate the issue by detailing other expenses he could have claimed but nobly chose not to.

It’s like a scrumper being caught with a pocketful of Cox’s Pippins, who excuses his actions by pointing out that he was decent enough not to take any plums or pears.

But, after all the shiftiness and evasiveness, the Island electorate has yet to receive a convincing answer to one very simple question.

Why, Mr Turner, did you not choose to continue living in the London flat you actually own — thereby saving taxpayers £20,000 a year?

Shoes are on their last legs

I’M glad the recent piece on Signor Peter (Pete the Feet) Cortesi brought back so many happy memories.

A couple of people got in touch to say they had heard of Ventnor’s legendary boot-maker but never had the pleasure of meeting him.

I particularly enjoyed the e-mail from Rob Marshall, who wrote: "Stories of his repartee were legion.

"The one I remember best is of a town worthy who took a pair of well-worn boots and asked Pete if he could mend them.

"The boots are beyond repair," he replied with a straight face, "but I could do something about the laces."

From stars in taxis to wolf whistles from film crews – it’s all happened to Islanders

THE Island seems to be full of secret stars; people whose faces have featured briefly on cinema screens down the years.

That’s the impression I’m getting from the many who were kind enough to respond to my request for information about involvement in films and television programmes which have used the Island as a location.

They range from a taxi driver, who ferried Peter Finch and other stars all over the place during the filming of Something to Hide, to locals who popped up in the David Essex movie, That’ll Be the Day.

I even heard from a retired teacher who remembers being wolf-whistled by the Essex film crew when she turned up for work at Sandown High School each morning.

So, my thanks to Paul Dyer, Joe Penn, Jonathan King (no, I don’t think it’s that one), Rod McCarthy, Phil Orr, Mick Hunter, Peter Payne, Denis Snudden, Tim Slade, Russell Sparks, Neil Welch, Graham Lee, Judy Mole, Margaret Stevens, Mick Price, Wendy Mumford, Linda Montgomery and Steve Oates.

Your memories will appear in this space in the fullness of time.

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