Former Liberal Democrat Party President Tim Farron is facing questions after it emerged his local party branch received a donation from a company just weeks before it was awarded retrospective planning permission for a fishery by the local Liberal Democrat-run council.
Records held by the Electoral Commission show that Pure Leisure Group Ltd gave the Westmorland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrats £5,000 on the 9th July 2014. Just two days later, on the 11th July the company applied for retrospective planning permission at Hall More Fishery, which lies within a Site of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest Consultation Zone.
The donation was accepted by the party on the 8th August 2014 and retrospective permission was granted the following month on the 17th September.
A spokesman from Mr Farron’s office told Breitbart London: “The relevant planning decision was a ‘delegated decision’. This means that the decision was made by an officer rather than any councillors on a planning committee.
“Any suggestion that planning decisions are made on party likes are not the case and would be a serious breach of the rules. As in every planning decision in South Lakeland, no whips, informal or pre-agreed lines are taken and the decision is based purely on the merit of the application.”
However, doubts have been raised over the veracity of that statement. A local resident told Breitbart London that he believes wrongdoing has indeed taken place, and that he is currently pursuing hard evidence to prove that to be the case.
This is not be the first time that Tim Farron has been implicated in shady financial practices. Last March political blogger Guido Fawkes revealed that Farron had paid the Westmorland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrats £1,554 out of Parliamentary expenses for use of an office staffer. And in 2013 he funnelled a further £6,000 to the local branch, paying them office rent for a building they owned.
“Taxpayers are subsidising Farron’s local party to the tune of thousands of pounds a year, with zero checks on whether public money is funding party-political activity. It gives him a publicly-funded advantage over any opponent,” Guido concluded.
One of those opponents is the Ukip candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Dr Jon Stanley, who told Breitbart London: “Serious questions need to be answered. At the time this planning permission was granted, Mr Farron was the party’s president, a position of huge significance. He makes no real secret of wanting to be the party’s next leader.
“With a Liberal Democrat controlled council involved this looks more like feudalism than localism. It’s hard to believe he had no idea this application was going through; South Lakeland politics is very tight”