Tar for the £2,500 freebie: Tory MP slammed as council smooths private driveway to his home before pot-holed public roads
Graham Stuart’s luxury home in East Yorkshire has 164 ft-long drive
Contractors for East Riding Council grant request from MP’s wife
Tory MP Graham Stuart has been criticised after contractors working for his local council tarmacked the private road to his luxury home for free.
Workers employed by East Riding Council resurfaced 164 feet of a lane not run by the council in Beverley, East Yorkshire, at his wife Anne's request, despite nearby public roads and potholes in need of repair.
Criticised: Tory MP Graham Stuart
Taxpayers are angry that the stretch of road on Seven Corners Lane, Beverley, which leads to the MP's home has had preferential treatment over other road works.
The stretch of asphalt would have cost £2,500 if Mr Stuart had paid for the job.
Contractors employed by the Conservative East Riding Council had been working on rectifying continuing road surface problems in Hengate half-a-mile away when Mrs Stuart approached them and asked if they could surface her lane with any tarmac that was left over.
Controversy: MP Graham Stuarts home at Seven Corners Lane, Beverley which has been tarmaced when other roads have pot holes
The new surface leads directly to the Stuarts' recently-built detached four-bedroom house in one of the most exclusive residential areas of the town.
However, it does not extend to the other 18 properties further along the lane, which dates back to the Victorian era.
Yesterday, Mr Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, issued a statement defending the work.
He said: 'My wife was cycling past Hengatewhile it was being resurfaced. She asked one of the workmen if it would be possible to lay any leftover Tarmac in Seven Corners Lane.
'No payment was asked for, none was offered and none was given. My wife was not given any assurance that spare Tarmac would be used on Seven Corners Lane.
'When my wife returned home later that day she found part of the lane had been resurfaced.'
Mr Stuart stressed the work had not only benefited him and his wife, but other residents in his street.
He said: 'I understand one resident in Seven Corners Lane has since complained and that is why the contractors are writing to all the residents to see how many would like the new surface left and how many would like it to be pulled up.
'They will, I am sure, abide by the feelings of the majority of residents.'
Residents in Beverley said they would have liked to have seen the surfacing used on potholes and pavements.
Sean Pashley, a worker at Whittakers shoe repair in Mill Lane, said: 'That is disgusting. Why didn't they fill in a few potholes on public roads? This shouldn't be happening. It is our money.'
Resident Pete Wilson, 50, of Beverley, also agreed the work could have been done on a public road. 'This looks pretty bad to me,' he said. 'You need to get all the main roads sorted first. It could certainly have been put to better use.'
Freebie: The new surface leads directly to the Stuarts' recently-built detached four-bedroom house but does not extend to the other 18 properties further along the lane
Andrew Allison, East Yorkshire co-ordinator of the TaxPayers Alliance, said he was 'surprised' the work had been sanctioned.
He said: 'Even if no money exchanged hands in this case, MPs need to be seen to be above this sort of thing after all the controversy over their expenses. 'Mr Stuart is paid well enough as an MP and he has his own successful business. Surely he should pay for something like this out of his own pocket like the rest of us?
'I would hope he officially declares this as a benefit in kind in the register of members' interests because that is what it is.'
The resurfacing work on the gravel-covered lane was carried out by staff from construction firm Galliford Try.
In a statement, the company said: 'At the end of a session of resurfacing works in Hengate we were left with the remnants of blacktop material.
'We had made a prior arrangement with a farmer to deposit the material with him.
'On the day, however, we were approached by a resident who asked if we could lay the blacktop down nearby Seven Corners Lane, a rough, un-adopted road on which she lives.
'We agreed to do so since it seemed to be an expedient and environmentally friendly way of dealing with the excess material. The Galliford Try team that carried out this job acted in the right and proper manner.
'The laying of blacktop down Seven Corners Lane was carried out purely out of goodwill and without any money changing hands.'
An East Riding Council spokeswoman said: 'This is a private matter between a contractor and a resident and does not concern East Riding Council.'
The spokesman for Mr Stuart said he would not be declaring the work as a gift, as he does not own the road.
Source: Daily Mail (22 June 2011)