Row over office use at innovation centre
A WAR of words broke out this week after an outspoken politician accused a councillor of getting him turfed out of Harborougn Innovation Centre.
Euro MP Roger Helmer, a UKIP member who lives in Bruntingthorpe, stoked the political fires this week when he claimed Harborough district and county councillor Simon Galton influenced a decision to get him kicked out of the centre, based on the outskirts of Harborough on the A6.
Mr Helmer, who has sparked controversy for his views on rape, David Cameron and the European Union, said Cllr Galton’s objections to him using the centre were a piece of cheap political point scoring.
The Euro MP said: “Cllr Galton saw his chance to take a pop at a UKIP politician, so he demanded the rental contract be terminated, on the grounds that a politician was not a start-up business. He also wrote in mock outrage that a project part-funded by the EU should not benefit an ‘anti-European’, his phrase, not mine.”
Mr Helmer was based at the centre – funded chiefly by a £4m EU grant – for just over three months from April to July this year.
But Cllr Galton rubbished Mr Helmer’s claims saying they were ‘fanciful’.
“I think he overestimates my influence,” said Cllr Galton, “When I was contacted by a newspaper some time ago to comment on Mr Helmer’s use of the centre, I merely raised reservations and concerns that the office would be used for political purposes. That is not the intention of the centre. It is for start-up businesses.”
Oxford Innovation, which runs the centre, said it terminated the MEP’s contract because the tenancy had breached its rules. It apologised for not noticing and acting sooner.
Matthew Harrington, a director at the centre, said: “It would appear that many of Mr Helmer’s comments relate to a political matter and so we cannot comment on those aspects.”
UKIP officials said the office was being used solely as a constituency office to liaise with members of the public.
Mr Helmer has now moved to an office at Manor Walk in Harborough.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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