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How Mr Very Reckless changed his tune
Rochester and Strood, Issue 1378
mark reckless.jpg
BIRD BRAINS: A nightingale and Ukip candidate Mark Reckless (right)
A KEY issue in November’s Rochester and Strood by-election – the plan to build 5,000 homes on Ministry of Defence land – has certainly given Ukip’s Mark Reckless plenty to sing about.

Reckless alleged that there had been a “Tory stitch-up on Lodge Hill” after Conservative-controlled Medway council approved plans for what he called a new town “in the middle of a bird sanctuary”.

Lodge Hill is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and home to Britain’s largest colony of nightingales. These will be relocated to Essex under plans by developer Land Securities. “If that goes ahead, where will it stop?” Reckless asked in his dramatic post-defection speech to the recent Ukip conference. “I promised to protect our rural Hoo Peninsula. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as Ukip.”

Champion of the nightingale
The SSSI was only declared by Natural England in March 2013 and came as a blow to what the council sees as one of the key regeneration projects in Medway. At the time the local Conservative MP attacked the non-elected government agency for delaying the scheme.

“The reason for this, we are told by Natural England, is that a study of some description has discovered that 84 nightingales might use the site,” he said. “The comparison to be drawn is between those 84 nightingales and homes for 12,000 people and jobs for a further 5,000 people. We are told by the Prime Minister that we are in a global race, but it is not clear that that message has yet filtered through to bodies such as Natural England.”

Can Ukip’s new champion of the nightingale and the Tory runner in the global race by any chance be related? They surely can!

More top stories in the latest issue:

Ministers ignore Facebook’s non-payment of corporation tax as George Osborne, like Mr Murdoch, has a go a Google. Can an election be far away?

Russell Brand wanted a Topshop boycott over Philip Green’s tax avoidance, but has nothing to say about the arrangements of Random House – publisher of his latest tract.

Despite hating Nigel Farage, Tory MEPs keep very quiet about his new far-right alliance – but they do have some pretty unsavoury chums of their own.

The anti-exploitation charity that’s advertising for three volunteer interns – all of them unpaid, of course!

Dame Julie Mellor, parliamentary and health service ombudsman, is investigated by auditors for giving a £120,000 contract to an old chum.

‘Flunkey’ on the goings and comings in the Buckingham Palace corridors, where everyone seems to be welcome after dark.

How the latest vendetta of Bullingdon bully boy and Boris chum Darius Guppy hits the buffers in court in South Africa and London.

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Next issue on sale: 11th November 2014.

Private Eye Issue 1377