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Corruption jibe prompts council to ask police to launch investigation

By Bess Browning

Police may investigate whether town councillors have accepted bribes after an accusation was reportedly made about accepting “brown envelopes”.

During an explosive town council meeting last Monday, Cllr Tom Gates was left furious after somebody in the audience mentioned “brown envelopes” during their question.

The meeting sparked an angry response from the audience after councillors approved the Creek neighbourhood plan, including residential uses for Ordnance Wharf.

Protesters at one of many Creek meetings. Picture: Richard Fleury
Protesters at one of many Creek meetings. Picture: Richard Fleury

But at this week’s council meeting, Cllr Gates launched a damning attack on some of the many audience members from the previous meeting.

He said: “I have been a councillor for the last 23 years, some may say 23 years too long, but I have never in that time come across such ill-mannered and bigoted behaviour.

“It amazes me that they say whatever they like but as soon as we say anything, they go mad.”

Cllr Tom Gates
Cllr Tom Gates

During last week’s meeting about the Creek, a member of the Faversham Creek Trust had said: “How is this going to go when it goes to referendum?

“What if it fails at the referendum? Who is going to be the winners? You lot won’t be because you’re not going to get any brown envelopes out of it.

“We won’t get anything out of it. It just seems to be to be mad, and I’m just mystified by how we have got to this position if we all want the same thing.”

Faversham town council
Faversham town council

The council clerk has now written to the police to ask them to investigate whether there was any evidence to substantiate the “brown envelopes” reference.

Seven councillors voted to send the letter, against just five who opposed doing so.

Cllr Gates said: “It’s distasteful. They feel like they can insult us whenever they like and there is no comeback.

“I want to take this further and write to the police to see if there is any truth behind this and if any bribes have ever been taken.

“And at least that will clear the air.”

Cllr Shiel Campbell
Cllr Shiel Campbell

Shiel Campbell and Cindy Davis voted against Cllr Gates’ idea.

Cllr Davis said: “I am more inclined to draw a line under it because has anyone got any evidence?

“I don’t know where the police would even start.”

Cllr Campbell said: “I think the interpretation was wrong and I don’t think the speaker meant for it to be seen in this way.”

Cllr Mick Gates was on his brother’s side. He said: “It seems to be a reoccurring allegation with the Creek neighbourhood plan that there is some sort of conspiracy going on.

“Once they get something in their heads, they won’t let it go and we are all just a bit fed up of it.”

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