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Spending tops £1m, but where are the homes?

PUBLISHED: 16:20 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:52 12 August 2010

ONE of the nation s largest non-governmental bodies has been slammed for its opaque spending of public money. The Thames Gateway Project (TGP), responsible for a massive housing drive through the Thames corridor, has spent £1,423,647 on communications

ONE of the nation's largest non-governmental bodies has been slammed for its "opaque" spending of public money.

The Thames Gateway Project (TGP), responsible for a massive housing drive through the Thames corridor, has spent £1,423,647 on communications and hospitality, a Times Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed.

Since house builders Crest Nicholson pulled out of the Erith Western Gateway regeneration scheme Colin Bloom, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Erith and Thamesmead, has questioned how the money is being spent.

He said: "These areas of north Bexley and Greenwich are in severe need of investment and redevelopment.

"If they are spending this on communications it seems strange we are not seeing more happening.

"It seems the project is favouring inner London boroughs and is not giving a proportionate amount to outer London.

"Erith and Thamesmead have been taken for granted for too many years and there are parts that need significant investment."

Mr Bloom, a Bromley councillor, said his "main gripe" with the TGP was that he could not see a fair proportion of its £9billion budget being spent on north Bexley.

The quango wields considerable powers, including rulings over some planning issues.

The Times' FoI request revealed that the TGP's communications spending peaked at £847,993 in 2007 and last year stood at £145,185.

Spending on hospitality peaked at £23,977 in 2006 and last year amounted to £14,500.

Mr Bloom added: "They have obviously confused what they spend on communications because they must spend more than that on hospitality. If you're going to have a presence at the Labour Party Conference and throw dinners at Parliament, these things don't come cheap.

"What they've spent each of these budgets on does seem rather opaque."

The TGP's budgets for entertainment and communications were first probed by Castle Point MP Bob Spink last July.

Mr Spink said: "I see no evidence at all that the TGP is actually benefiting my constituents but I see evidence of massive spending and unaccountability."

A spokesperson for the Thames gateway Project was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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