Probably the saddest thing about the whole Branson episode and Majorca is that the Son Bunyola estate in Banyalbufar will never be transformed into a luxury hotel. It now appears that Son Bunyola will also be sold alongside the Hotel La Residencia in Deià. Branson bought Son Bunyola almost eight years ago and planned to transform it “into one of the most luxurious hotels in the Mediterranean,” catering for the rich and famous. About seven years ago I walked round Son Bunyola with Branson and I was privileged enough to hear his plans and his excitement for the project. I remember him pointing around the estate and saying “we are going to transform that old barn into an Italian restaurant, and we are even thinking of ferrying guests around the estate in horse drawn carriages.” He was deeply in love with the project and was willing to invest $25 million and even produce Virgin olive oil on the estate, reviving an ancient tradition. More than 100 new jobs would have been created, in a village where most of the young people have been forced to move away because of the lack of employment. But the endless planning disputes, despite the local ministry for tourism's desire to take the industry up-market, has effectively meant that the project, will perhaps never be built, or if it is it will probably be without Branson.

I still don't really understand why Branson faced such difficulties. Perhaps some major detail has escaped me but I think not.
It is just a very sad state of affairs. Unfortunately, a chapter in Banyalbufar is about to be closed and the main loser is probably Majorca itself.

Jason Moore

End of the case

There can be little sympathy for Dame Shirley Porter who on Thursday was ordered by a judgement of the House of Lords to repay Westminster City Council £26.5 million spent on the Council's “homes for votes” scheme in 1987. Dame Shirley was leader of the Council when home sales were used to build “stable communities” which just happened to consist mainly of Conservative voters. By this method Dame Shirley and her deputy David Weeks planned to boost their party's majority on the Council.

In 1999 Dame Shirley won an appeal against an earlier decision against her but the case then finally went to the House of Lords, with the result handed down this week.

Five law lords unanimously upheld the findings of the district auditor, John Magill, that Dame Shirley and David Weeks were guilty of “political corruption”. Lord Bingham, senior law lord, said: “The passage of time and the familiarity of the accusations cannot and should not obscure the unpalatable truth that this was a deliberate, blatant and dishonest misuse of public power. It was a misuse of power, not for the purpose of financial gain but for that of electoral advantage. In that sense it was corrupt.” Lord Scott said: “Gerrymandering - the manipulation of boundaries for party political advantage - is a clear form of corruption. If unchecked it engenders cynicism about elections, about politicians and their motives, and damages the reputation of democratic government.” Dame Shirley said that she would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights but Westminster Council said the case was over and gave her fourteen days in which to make the due payment.

Monitor

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