Donors give £500k to political parties in Brighton and Hove

Posted On 07 Feb 2014 at 3:11 pm

Donors have given more than £500,000 to the political parties in Brighton and Hove, according to official figures.

The donations include two four-figure sums given to the Labour Party locally by millionaire pub owner Martin Webb, the former business partner of Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown.

The figures were published today (Friday 7 February) by the Brighton and Hove Independent newspaper, based on an analysis of information held by the Electoral Commission.

The Independent said that Mr Webb had recently given £2,000 to the Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party. He also gave the party £1,500 in April 2001.

The Channel 4 television presenter made his fortune by building up and selling the pubs and clubs business C-Side for £15 million in 2001. He founded the business with Mr Kirby in 1993.

BHIndy 20140207Mr Webb has since bought four pubs in Brighton and Hove – the Robin Hood, the Stoneham, the Connaught and the Dyke Tavern.

The Independent said: “Official data reported to the Electoral Commission since 2001 show that the Conservative Party has been the biggest beneficiary of political donations locally with more than £230,000 being given to help its candidates win power.

“They come as all the main parties prepare to step up fundraising and campaigning in advance of the general election and city council elections, to be held on the same day in May next year.

“Labour, for example, is investing more than £100,000 a year on four paid organisers in the city.”

The newspaper said that much of the money given to the Conservatives in Brighton and Hove came from two organisations, both dining or supper clubs.

The Winston Churchill Dining Club, based in Hove, has given £39,000 in three donations. And the United and Cecil Club, which is run from an address in Iver, Buckinghamshire, has given £37,000 in 11 donations.

Labour, by comparison, has been given nearly £170,000 locally, most of it from trade unions, which account for 48 out of 77 donations.

The Independent said that the GMB had been responsible for 27 donations, totalling £70,061 – the biggest and most recent of which was £15,050.

Other union donors include Unite, Unison, which made six and five donations respectively, including five-figure sums.

Other unions have given four-figure sums. They include the TSSA, Amicus, the RMT, the MSF, the Communications Workers Union and the Fire Brigades Union.

The Co-operative Party has made 16 donations, totalling £26,012, including most recently four donations totalling £6,534 in 2009.

Three donations totalling more than £12,000 came from Ben Gowlett Trustees, believed to be the result of a legacy left by a party member in Hove.

The Labour group on Brighton and Hove City Council has given £8,000 in two donations – £3,000 in October 2011 and £5,000 in October 2012.

The Green Party has attracted more than £61,000, including £10,000 from the production company of Marcus Brigstocke, the comedian and actor.

The donation from Corduroy Productions, which is the local party’s joint biggest donation, was made in March 2010, in the run-up to the general election.

In January 2010 the Green Party also received £10,000 from the Political Animal Lobby, an animal welfare group founded in the early 1990s by Brian Davies.

He set up one of the world’s biggest animal welfare organisations, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, in 1969.

The Liberal Democrats have raised the least locally, according to the Brighton and Hove Independent.

The party registered 14 donations totalling less than £23,000, most of them from individuals.

The most generous Lib Dem donor was Lawrence Eke, a local election candidate in 2011, who has given £11,420.

Mr Eke is a director of the Intensive School of English and Business Communication, which gave the party £2,089 in September 2009.

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