Police called in over bribery allegations linked to property developments at Tory-run council

Troubled Slough Borough Council in London’s western commuter belt has called in the police to investigate allegations of bribery in applications for property developments.

Police were asked to intervene after a formal written complaint was submitted to the council on behalf of at least three property developers, the Standard can reveal.

“The council has received information expressing concern about soliciting money in order to secure approval for planning permissions,” a council spokeswoman said.

“No individual was named in the complaint therefore there was no evidence the council could investigate. However, the council decided it was best to forward these serious allegations to the police for their consideration.”

Slough fell under the oversight of Government-appointed commissioners in December 2021 after the then Labour-run council effectively declared bankruptcy. It switched to Conservative control in elections last year, and is not part of the cycle of local elections taking place elsewhere this week.

Slough’s Conservative leader Dexter Smith last week conducted his fourth cabinet reshuffle in a year and plans a shakeup of the planning committee and other committees at the council’s AGM next month.

The spokeswoman said this was routine, and denied there was anything untoward about the cancellation of a planning committee meeting that was meant to take place last week.

Asked for comment, Cllr Smith echoed that the “serious allegation” was now with the police.

The retired defence journalist last year denied supplying “non-public” information on Britain and Nato to Czech spies in the Eighties for cash, after newly declassified files in Prague identified him as a source codenamed “Slough”. He insisted they were “freelance writing commissions”.

The council’s Labour opposition leader Pavitar Kaur Mann said: “We welcome any and all investigation into the planning system over the last year, including whether or not any individual has sought to benefit from their position.”

Ms Mann said the Labour group had expressed concerns about the planning system since the last elections to Slough’s statutory monitoring officer, chief executive and the three commissioners.

“The operation of the planning committee over the last year has been fundamentally flawed and has caused a severe crisis of confidence amongst reputable investors and developers within the town,” she added.

“I urge any resident who may have further information to come forward and have their say.”