Dennis Grant was CEO of the Cotswold Water Park Society, and managed to fraudulently divert over £700,000 belonging to, or due to the society, to his own ends. He was eventually caught after much delving principally by Esmond Jenkins, and then evidence produced to the Society’s Financial Officer. His assistant Nick Hanson was in league with him, but died before he could be brought to court, though some monies were later recovered from his estate. Grant was eventually sentenced to four years and four months. He was sent back to prison in February 2014 for not producing over £300,000 of his proceeds of crime. In November he was set free after claiming that his half-built villa in Northern Cyprus is effectively valueless. However if he acquires future assets, these can be seized towards the sum owed. See W&GS storyAs a result of his actions the CWPS is no longer a trading company, though it still exists nominally, and has been replaced by a trust. Financial controls have been extensively revised, but the trust now struggles for money to survive.Extensive background material can be seen on the Cotswoldlakes website.
The “Cullimore” Field
Cullimore, the gravel company, purchased the field next to the entrance to Keynes Country Park from the estate of Mrs Freeth of Shorncote. It had been excluded by a Planning Inspector from areas of search for gravel as he considered it too small and too near to the park and the settlement of Shorncote. Despite this the company, who applied together with the Water Park Society (see story above) obtained permission to dig for gravel in July 2010. The objections of locals on various sound grounds were ignored. An archaeological survey was conducted after the surface layer was stripped. In 2012 Esmond Jenkins obtained a Judicial Review in the High Court on a procedural technicality. The remedy to the Jenkins application was heard at the High Court in Birmingham on 26 March 2012. The judge had no option but to quash the Planning Permission granted in July 2010. The clock is put back to one day before the committee heard the application. Procedures will be followed this time and the application heard again at a later date. The replacement meeting happened om June 8th 2014, when the application was again granted, but with conditions to be agreed.Since then the applicant has provided more information (available on the County website). This has resulted in challenges to the drainage report from a number of sources including SKPC. The Parish Council has also challenged CWPTrust as to why it continues to support this application in the light of Dennis Grant’s (see above) misdeeds. As a result Sir David John, CWPT Chairman, came to a Parish Council meeting, and gave an unconvincing explanation. The Trust wants the land for parking for the Country Park. Since Sir John’s visit to the Parish Council the CWPTrust has negotiated a longer lease (for only a small part of the field) with Cullimore and is quite content to support the application! In May 2014 the CWPTrust announced that it had reached a further deal with Mr Cullimore, that might allow the eventual purchase of the whole field. As a result of the very high water flows experienced in the County ditch in January and February 2014, the Parish Council is even more determined that none of the water from excavation shall enter either the county ditch, or the Country Park lakes, which have again been excessively full, and themselves drain into the County Ditch downstream of the Spine Road. Extra water may cause property flooding in the village. The application was heard again on 8th June in Gloucester. This time the planning committee was more sympathetic to our worries, and the applicant will have to agree to clear conditions about hydrology which will be considered by the committee at a later date. The Decision notice with Conditions is available on the GCC website, as are the latest (17 July) proposals to meet conditions. Work has now started on extraction, with large lorries transporting the sand to the Ashton Keynes plant. In September 2016 an application was made to increase these lorry movements. Only limited digging can take place until the hydrology (where the onsite water goes) has been agreed. Water is currently being pumped into lake 31, the top lake of Keynes Country Park.
Dennis Grant at a public meeting held in SK Village Hall before his exposure, which showed up the incompetence of Hanson and the then Society Chairman, both of whom died later. There was never any suggestion that the Society chairman was involved in any wrongdoing. The meeting was chaired by MP Clifton-Brown. The hall and a tented annex were packed.