Anthony Steen, a Tory grandee, spent tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on his million-pound country home, including paying a forestry expert to inspect 500 trees in the grounds, according to a claim he submitted.
Mr Steen, the MP for Totnes in Devon, designated his constituency property as his second home and then claimed the maximum available amount under the Additional Costs Allowance.
Over four years he claimed £87,729, including payments for tree surgery, guarding his shrubs against rabbits, maintaining a separate cottage and overhauling his private sewage system. In January 2005, items on Mr Steen’s claim for £13,742 included £2,858.94 for leaking pipes, £1,755.89 for fixing the water supply from the “spring and bore hole”, £1,318 for a wrought iron fireplace and £597.14 for lights.
There was also a £459 charge from a woodland consultant to come and inspect new plantings on Mr Steen’s lands. The consultant tagged shrubs and assessed whether there was a need for “additional guarding” against rabbits.
Another £120 was for “fencing on two fields to the right of the drive leading down to the stables”. A fees officer scrawled on that bill: “I’ve paid this, should I have?”
Another invoice detailed how a chartered forester, who was a member of the International Dendrology Society, had been employed to carry out a survey of the laurels and rhododendrons. The forester was also hired to “carry out annual maintenance programme to approx 500 trees within the grounds and inspect said trees.”