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Early (possible) by-election alert – Southend West

I hope Peter Welch is in the weights room working up a sweat for all the doors he’ll be knocking on a year or so’s time. Ok maybe I am getting a little (read: way) ahead of myself here but Southend West MP David Amess is on the front page of the local paper today and not talking about female newsreaders smiling too much. A headline screaming, ‘Amess Told: Explain Your Council Tax Claims’ probably isn’t a good thing for the man.

Southend Echo David Amess

Inside the local rag details the claims Amess made and the amount he should have claimed for and here is the breakdown:

2004/2005 – £900 claimed and his allowance was £907 – good start for the taxpayer.
2005/2006 – £1,146 claimed and £946 allowed – less good for the taxpayer.
2006/2007 – £1,750 claimed and £946 allowed. Er…
2007/2008 – £1,700 claimed and £1,026 allowed. Uh oh…

For the three tax years from April 2008 through to 2011 the amounts are identical between claimed and received. The difference is before 2008 no receipt was required.

The local rag has done it’s research with Tower Hamlets finding out the council tax (plus allowable reductions) for the property which was allocated as Mr Amess’s second home. The investigation has showed up that the MP claimed £1,700 more than he was entitled to over that period. This number does not include claims on utility bills which are also under investigation by the Met.

David Amess has been a Conservative MP since 1983 representing Basildon from 1983-1997 and Southend West since. This is not the first time his expenses have been under close scrutiny and in 2009 on the campaign trail he sought refuge in a hairdressers from the local media wanting answers to the fact during the same four year period the MP claimed over £19,000 on food. I have been known to shop at M&S and even I don’t spend that much. In fact I spend nowhere near that much. You could get a takeaway every night on that type of money near enough.

Obviously there is a lot to play out here but there are questions to answer at the Met have opened up an investigation. Should charges follow then I suspect he’ll stick it out until the end of his trial. If found guilty though then Southend West will face a by-election on the current boundaries and if that happens then it might be a lot of fun…

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