Published: 14:27, 26 October 2018
| Updated: 14:28, 27 October 2018
A prolific development company donated thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party in the summer, it has emerged.
Quinn Estates, which is building thousands of homes in Kent, made two payments totalling £27,500 in June.
Two payments – one for £25,000 and another for £2,500 – were made but chairman Mark Quinn says the Bridge-based company doesn’t just donate to one party.
He said: “I've also donated to Labour this year with a pledge of £4,000, there are different policies offered up by each party which I agree with.
"We don't donate to gain a favour, we do it to support a party, the donation money goes to the centre of the party not to local individuals.
"I'm a believer of the democratic process and I support the process.
"I've seen all this nonsense people write about developers handing over brown envelopes and it's absolute rubbish.
"People vote for my projects because they are good schemes that bring benefits to areas and communities."
The figures are from the Electoral Commission's register, an independent body which regulates party and election finance.
It showed Quinn Estates was among a number of development companies to have donated to the Conservative Party this year.
Cllr Gerry Clarkson (Con), leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “I’m not aware of the donation, the party receives donations from many people and I’m glad it does.
“None of that [donations to the party] would influence our decision making process.
'My relationship with Mr Quinn, as it is with other property developers, is a convivial business relationship...' - Gerry Clarkson
“It’s all very nice trying to make this connection between donations and influence but it’s just not true.
“My relationship with Mr Quinn, as it is with other property developers, is a convivial business relationship.
“We have to achieve the best for our public and that includes planning and things of that nature,” he said.
Among Quinn Estates’ Ashford projects are 660 homes off Victoria Road, 750 at Conningbrook Park in Kennington – dubbed ‘Large Burton’ - and 300 apartments opposite the Designer Outlet.
It is also behind the first phase of the Commercial Quarter at Dover Place which opened earlier this year.
Plans for a ‘super hospital’ in Canterbury are also dependent on Mr Quinn, who has offered to build a new building shell in the city in return for 2,000 homes.
If built, the plans would see the A&Es at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and the QEQM Hospital in Margate close.
Ashford Independent Cllr Noel Ovenden, ward member for Wye, criticised the donations.
He said: “With our national planning system in disarray, I find the donations to the Conservative party from the property sector to be shocking and inappropriate.
“Worse still is that it is a developer entwined in the recent growth of Ashford. What unsettles me further is this developer offered to build a new hospital in Canterbury in return for homes, which would inevitably play a part in our own hospital being downgraded.”