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Calls to investigate Bath mole transfer dismissed Bath City News

The leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council has rejected calls for a ‘full and transparent investigation’ into the transfer of Bathampton Meadows to the National Trust.

Councilor Kevin Guy has reiterated that he had no involvement in his father-in-law Ken Horler’s sale of 15 hectares of land to New Leaf Farm for £900,000, and that his family did not benefit from the transfer of assets from the authority of a 25- hectare public parcel at pepper tariff.

Seeking to end a ‘relentless campaign falsely slandering my integrity’, he responded to claims by ‘social media trolls’ and a former colleague who apologized and deleted a blog post detailing ‘certain accusations’ that she now knows how to be “completely wrong”.

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Councilor Guy has previously said that he and his husband Steve Horler have no involvement in the sale of the New Leaf Farm land, nor any pecuniary interest, and that their adjacent holiday home business New Leaf Farm Ltd is a separate entity . He said this week that it was common knowledge that the holiday homes were owned by DeepAir and that he had no stake in the company.

Companies House records show that New Leaf Farm Ltd is majority owned by Horler Guy Holdings Limited, which in turn is majority owned by Mr Horler Snr. Official records also show Mr Guy’s husband owns a 1.7% stake in the company and the same stake in DeepAir.

Councilors must disclose their own interests and those of their spouses so that residents can be confident that they put the public interest first.

Kevin Guy’s old register of interests.

Mr Guy has previously said he had a conversation with the chief executive and the council’s chief counsel about exactly what he needed to say ahead of the deal. At the time, his register of interests indicated that he was a director of New Leaf Farm Ltd and that her husband was one of four directors of DeepAir Ltd.

It has since been updated at least twice and now lists her directorships of New Leaf Farm Ltd and Horler Guy Holdings Ltd and indicates that her husband is a director of both companies and DeepAir Ltd.

Current register of interests of council leader Kevin Guy. B&NES Consulting.

The council leader remains confident he has made the necessary statements, describing the Register of Interests as a “living and frequently updated document”. Mr Guy said that, contrary to suggestions, there was no need to make a specific statement when setting the budget on February 16 as it was not relevant to the meeting.

Casting doubt on Mr Guy’s statement last month that her husband could be director of DeepAir but is ‘entirely run’ by her husband’s father Steve Horler, online commentators pointed to a news article from 2015 in which Mr. Horler Jr said that Mr. Horler Snr had “I just retired and he built the business for me to take over as his son”. Another press clipping said he had “handed over the family farm”.

Mr Guy said his father-in-law retired from farming in 2015, but not from managing DeepAir, which sold New Leaf Farm land and over which he has majority control.

“I’m not particularly close to Ken Horler and I wasn’t involved in DeepAir’s deal with the National Trust in any way, so I don’t have any evidence regarding the deal,” he said. added.

The National Trust confirmed that negotiations for the land were completely separate.

Critics have also suggested Mr Guy is not entirely separate from DeepAir as in 2018 he submitted a planning application for a property he owned in Pipehouse. He said he did it before he was elected councilor (in 2019) to help his husband.

In a now-deleted blog post, former cabinet member Joanna Wright – who quit the Lib Dems with a scathing attack on the party’s ‘compromised’ moral compass to join the Greens – asked why the council wasn’t getting ” nothing” for his land when Mr. Horler Snr received a six-figure sum.

Mr Guy said the transfer of council land assets had been recommended by officers, who said the social and economic benefits worth £2.3million over 30 years would “far exceed “the unrestricted value, which in 2020 was estimated at £915,000.

The council agreement was signed by a single-member decision of deputy chief Richard Samuel, the cabinet member in charge of resources.

Responding to Councilor Wright’s calls for a ‘full and transparent investigation’, Mr Guy said: ‘It’s not my decision to make but as far as I know there is nothing to investigate.

“I repeat, I was not involved in the case. “My own family” was not “rewarded” with a million pounds. My husband’s family have sold one of the assets of their business (DeepAir Ltd, in which I have no interest) to the National Trust (which I do not control), apparently for less than the price offered by the council led by the Conservatives for seven years since [when it wanted to build a 1,400-space park and ride at Bathampton Meadows].

“I was not involved in either deal and got nothing from them.”

He previously said her husband was a shareholder in DeepAir but had never received a dividend.

The leader of the council said in a statement: ‘The agreement with the National Trust over Bathampton Meadows is a fantastic outcome for the people of Bath and North East Somerset. The beautiful and important water meadows will forever be protected from destructive development. The facilities enjoyed by the public will be carefully improved and maintained by the National Trust, which has a reputation for doing just that.

“The Liberal Democrat administration deserves credit for producing such a positive and lasting outcome for residents. It was a clear manifesto commitment that we are very happy to honor and local people celebrate our success.

“It is unfortunate that a few individuals with their own malicious political agendas have desperately sought ways to undermine this wonderful success for our community. They do it by attacking me personally. They are completely and patently wrong.

“Being criticized is part of a politician’s job and if I make a mistake I’m happy to raise my hand and correct it. But the relentless dishonesty and viciousness of the attacks on me over this success degrades public life and, unsurprisingly, turns people away from politics.

“I will not be distracted from trying to make a positive difference in people’s lives and living up to the manifesto that voters chose in 2019.”

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This notice was published: 2022-03-08 00:00:00

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