Gething re­ceives cam­paign cash from il­le­gal-dump­ing com­pany

Western Mail - - NEWS - MARTIN SHIP­TON Chief re­porter martin.ship­ton@waleson­

WELSH Labour lead­er­ship con­tender Vaughan Gething has re­ceived a do­na­tion to his cam­paign from a com­pany con­victed of dump­ing waste il­le­gally in an area of spe­cial sci­en­tific in­ter­est.

The Cardiff South and Pe­narth AM has also re­ceived dona­tions to the value of £11,200 from a com­pany that was handed con­trol of Cardiff’s iconic Coal Ex­change in con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances.

In 2013 Neal Soil Sup­pli­ers Ltd, which has do­nated an undis­closed sum to Mr Gething’s lead­er­ship cam­paign, was fined £50,000 and or­dered to pay £51,000 in costs after plead­ing guilty to the il­le­gal dump­ing of waste on the Gwent Lev­els.

A sis­ter com­pany – At­lantic Re­cy­cling – was also con­victed, fined the same amount and or­dered to pay the same amount in costs.

The com­pa­nies’ direc­tor, David John Neal, of Rum­ney, Cardiff, in the Cardiff South and Pe­narth con­stituency, was fined £10,000 per­son­ally and given a three-month sus­pended prison sen­tence.

The pros­e­cu­tion fol­lowed a year-long in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales, its pre­de­ces­sor, the En­vi­ron­ment Agency, and South Wales Po­lice.

District Judge Martin Brown said that in the case of Neal Soil Sup­pli­ers, where dairy and food ef­flu­ent was spread over a field, there had been “sub­stan­tial and se­ri­ous pol­lu­tion”.

In mit­i­ga­tion, the com­pany’s bar­ris­ter told the court: “This is not an of­fence that led to a profit. The com­pany were try­ing to up­grade their waste trans­fer sta­tion and they were us­ing the field as a tem­po­rary solution.”

Dec­la­ra­tions made to the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion by Mr Gething’s cam­paign team show Sig­na­ture Liv­ing, the com­pany that has con­verted Cardiff ’s Coal Ex­change into a ho­tel, has made a cash do­na­tion to Mr Gething’s lead­er­ship cam­paign of £10,000. In ad­di­tion, it has made a non-cash do­na­tion of £1,200 to Mr Gething in re­spect of staff costs.

In 2016 Cardiff South and Pe­narth MP Stephen Doughty raised con­cerns about the lack of trans­parency sur­round­ing the cir­cum­stances un­der which con­trol of the Coal Ex­change was handed to Sig­na­ture Liv­ing by Cardiff coun­cil. He said: “There has been no ten­der or pub­lic process in this in­stance,” and al­leged that an­other de­vel­oper had ef­fec­tively been scared away by the coun­cil.

Sig­na­ture Liv­ing re­jected Mr Doughty’s crit­i­cisms, and said it was the only de­vel­oper with a re­al­is­tic plan to save the Coal Ex­change.

The com­pany’s founder, Lawrence Ken­wright, praised Mr Gething in a tweet, stat­ing: “Vaughan Gething is why we came to Cardiff to bring The Ex­change Ho­tel back to life – a build­ing which had been lay­ing derelict for years. It was @vaugh­angeth­ing who cleared the path for us, even though it was not part of his re­mit – he did it due to it be­ing the right thing to do.”

On Sun­day Mr Ken­wright tweeted: “I joined the Labour Party be­cause of Cor­byn’s new pol­i­tics. He’s the only po­lit­i­cal leader that has re­ally ever in­spired me.”

Mr Gething, how­ever, is not a sup­porter of Mr Cor­byn.

A spokesman for Sig­na­ture Liv­ing said: “Vaughan Gething was one of only a few politi­cians who be­lieved in our vi­sion to trans­form the Coal Ex­change and we’re there­fore very happy to sup­port his cam­paign.”

Dona­tions of more than £1,500 to can­di­dates stand­ing for in­ter­nal party elec­tions have to be de­clared to the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion. Mr Gething’s dona­tions from Sig­na­ture Liv­ing are the only ones de­clared by any of the three Welsh Labour lead­er­ship can­di­dates to the com­mis­sion.

A Na­tional Assem­bly spokes­woman said AMs were ex­pected to de­clare dona­tions to their Assem­bly election cam­paigns that ex­ceed £500, but were able to de­clare ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion in the in­ter­ests of trans­parency if they saw fit to do so.

Mr Gething has iden­ti­fied as donors to his cam­paign in his en­try to the Regis­ter of AMs’ In­ter­ests Sig­na­ture Liv­ing, HSG Fa­cil­i­ties Man­age­ment – a firm run by for­mer Cardiff coun­cil­lor Ash­ley Govier – Dr Has Shah, Aditya Sin­gal, Neal Soil Sup­pli­ers and Jac­qui Walm­s­ley.

On his en­try in the Assem­bly’s Regis­ter of Mem­bers’ In­ter­ests, Mark Drake­ford has de­clared dona­tions to his lead­er­ship cam­paign from AMs Jane Hutt, Mike Hedges, Mick An­toniw, Julie Mor­gan, Julie James, John Grif­fiths, Jenny Rath­bone and Re­becca Evans; from for­mer AMs Sue Es­sex, Ed­wina Hart and Rose­mary But­ler; from his agent David Davies; from An­drew Mor­gan, the leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf coun­cil; from for­mer Cardiff coun­cil­lor Cher­rie Short; from Cynon Val­ley and Cardiff West Con­stituency Labour Par­ties; from named sup­port­ers Anne Cox, HV Shah, Mrs P Sing­hal, Mrs R Sing­hal and Arvind Sing­hal; and 10 anony­mous dona­tions via his cam­paign web­site.

Eluned Mor­gan, the third can­di­date, has de­clared no dona­tions.

We asked Mr Gething’s cam­paign team whether he was com­fort­able ac­cept­ing a do­na­tion from a com­pany that had been con­victed and fined for pol­lut­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, and why he had been given a £10,000 do­na­tion for his lead­er­ship cam­paign to­gether with a fur­ther non-cash do­na­tion worth £1,200 by Sig­na­ture Liv­ing.

A spokesman for Mr Gething’s cam­paign said: “Vaughan has made his vi­sion of change and hope for our coun­try clear. That’s why we have the sup­port of so many, from grass­roots mem­bers to busi­nesses who em­ploy nu­mer­ous peo­ple in Vaughan’s con­stituency.

“We’re de­lighted to have the sup­port of promi­nent Jeremy Cor­byn sup­port­ers who cam­paign with Vaughan to en­sure we kick out the Tories from Num­ber 10.”

A spokes­woman for Mark Drake­ford’s cam­paign team said: “All our dona­tions have come from sup­port­ers or party mem­bers. None of our dona­tions are from com­pa­nies.”

Baroness Mor­gan said: “We have com­plied with the re­quire­ments of the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion and the Welsh Assem­bly, and as we have not re­ceived any pay­ments in ex­cess of £500 for my lead­er­ship cam­paign we are not re­quired to pub­licly dis­close th­ese dona­tions.”

> Lead­er­ship hope­ful Vaughan Gething AM

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