File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner
Mr Beggs came to see me so that I could clarify details
in relation to the complaint made by Councillor Anderson. I explained
the investigation process to Mr Beggs and gave him a copy of the
leaflet "How to complain about an MP" so that he could
see the process in writing.
I said that the complaint concerned whether he had
properly registered all his financial interests. Mr Beggs confirmed
that he understood the basis of the complaint.
Mr Beggs provided me with the following information.
Mr Beggs' Home Farm which surrounds his home address was acquired
in the mid-sixties and is 25 acres.
He inherited 22½ acres at Carnleaballyclare
from his father in about 1988.
Ballyrickard Road site
Mr Beggs acquired the site at Ballyrickard Road on
the 30th December 1984. It is a site of 13 1/4 acres and is about
3 miles from his home farm. The landfill site in question is on
part of that site. When Mr Beggs purchased the site it had an
outline planning permission for a farm bungalow which had been
acquired by the previous owner on the 1st June 1983. Mr Beggs
did not seek to renew that planning permission as he had represented
the applicant, the previous owner, in seeking that planning permission.
A nearby "neighbour from hell" embarked
on a crusade to prevent filling at that time and, Mr Beggs believes,
to try to disrupt activities on the site.
On the 30th January 1986, the site was cleared and
attempts were made to drain it but it had little run off and this
was not successful. On the 24th August 1989, Mr Beggs embarked
on a scheme to fill the lower part of the site.
On the 15th April 1994 Mr Beggs was granted a Waste-Disposal
Licence for the Ballyrickard Road site. That Licence allowed landfilling
with material for which the environmental impact of decomposition
is less than those items as listed at 1 on the licence. (Mr Beggs
provided me with a copy of the Waste-Disposal Licence).
Mr Beggs appointed Mr McKee as agent. He has no formal
contract with Mr McKee, but he has an understanding with Mr McKee
that he would landfill, he would have sole access and that one
field on the site would be fenced off for silage, otherwise Mr
Beggs would graze animals on the site as he saw fit. It was agreed
that Mr McKee would pay the landfill tax. (Mr Beggs provided me
with a copy of the landfill site operators' site addresses and
landfill tax registration numbers which lists D.J McKee &
Son and provides their tax number)
Mr McKee has always paid the landfill tax. Mr McKee
pays nothing to Mr Beggs and provides him with no benefits. Mr
Beggs pays D.J McKee & Son for any work that he undertakes
as a contractor on Mr Beggs' land. (Mr Beggs provided me with
sight of several bills for such contracting work which he had
paid). Mr Beggs has no agreement with Mr McKee on the timescale
for filling the site as he fills it as and when he has building
or soil waste.
Mr Beggs has never agreed that anyone else should
tip on the site, but following my letter and the checks he has
made, it has come to light that Mr McKee arranged for the local
authority, Larne Borough Council, to dump on the site. Mr Beggs
assumes that Mr McKee has been paid by the Borough Council but
he does not know whether that is so.
When he made these inquiries he found that the mixture
of material was not as it should have been. Mr Beggs informed
the local Environmental Health Officer who has arranged for the
Borough Council to take action to separate the unsuitable material
from the suitable material which has recently been dumped on the
site. The sorting of the tipped material has been completed. (It
was completed last week Mr Beggs believes)
In addition, seaweed has been deposited on the site
and Mr McKee has now removed that.
Mr McKee and the Borough Council have carried the
costs of sorting out the unauthorised material. Mr Beggs has not
carried any of those costs.
Mr Beggs' understanding is that, when the tipping
is complete the site will be left usable for cutting or grazing
by Mr Beggs, not that it will be left suitable for development.
There are currently no planning applications in force
in relation to the site.
Mr Beggs has no financial involvement in D.J McKee
Mr Beggs said that he will check through the Library
whether he has been involved in any Parliamentary Proceedings
in relation to matters related to landfill sites or landfill tax
Property at Inver Road
Mr Beggs explained that the Bleachers, Dyers and
Finishers business on the site at Inver Road is a long-established
business which employed about 40 people. It faced difficult times
and went into receivership in 1989. The property was advertised
Mr Beggs was concerned about employment in his constituency
and convened a meeting of local businessmen to consider forming
a consortium to buy the business. One local businessman, a Mr
Topping, was willing to proceed, but no others. As a result Mr
Topping put in about £100,000 (Mr Beggs will check this figure)
and Mr Beggs put in £20,000. They were hopeful that the company
would have a better future, but since 1998 the company has not
delivered to their expectations, however employment has been maintained.
No rent is being charged to the business and no interest
has been paid on the capital put into the site. In the last few
months Mr Topping has asked the business to pay the interest on
his share of the capital. No interest has been paid on Mr Beggs'
share of the capital.
Mr Beggs' aim for this project is long-term employment
on the site and his hope is that the company will succeed and
be able to buy back the property. However, the site is in an area
zoned for development and this could be the end outcome if the
business continues to be insufficiently successful.
There was a planning permission on this site for
development, but that has expired. Mr Beggs expects Mr Topping
to make a new planning application shortly. Mr Beggs' understanding
with Mr Topping is that he would be honour bound to take responsibility
for about 1/6 of any debt on this project and that he would receive
about 1/6 of any profit which might be realised in future.
Mr Beggs will check the approximate present value
of this site.
We discussed the Register requirement to enter property
of substantial value not used for the residential use of the Member
or his spouse. Mr Beggs said that he was mistaken. He had understood
that he did not need to register this property unless he received
rent from it. I drew Mr Beggs' attention to the Rule relating
land and property under category 8, page 12 of the Guide to the
Rules Relating to the Conduct of Members.
Mr Beggs agreed to check with the Library whether
he had been involved in any Parliamentary Proceedings which related
to issues which might be relevant to the property at Inver Road
during the period of time he had been a part-owner of the property.
Mr Beggs was most straight-forward and open about
all these matters and agreed to let me have the outstanding information
as soon as possible.
I explained to Mr Beggs that he was welcome to consult
me at any time, that he was also welcome to write to me and I
would ensure that anything that he wrote to me was put to the
Committee when I made my report. I explained the process and showed
Mr Beggs a copy of a previous report which included the report
by the Committee and the Memorandum by me.
I said to Mr Beggs that I would make a note of the
information that he had given me during the meeting today and
I would send it to him to check and correct if necessary. I explained
that when I had written my report for the Committee prior to coming
to any conclusions, I would send that to him for him to check
the facts and to make any other further comment which he wished
at that point.
List of documents provided to me by Mr Beggs
Planning permission for the Ballyrickard
Road site dated 28th March 1990
Waste Disposal Licence for the Ballyrickard
Road site dated 15th April 1994
Landfill Site Operators, Site addresses
and Landfill Tax Registration numbers as at 1 April 1999
Waste disposal sites, application for
consent for Ballyrickard Road site dated 1 September 1993