Petition over MP’s expenses

John Ravenscroft and petition supporter Hope Griffin.
John Ravenscroft and petition supporter Hope Griffin.

A petition of more than 68,000 signatures has been handed to the office of Boston and Skegness MP Mark Simmonds over his expenses.

John Ravenscroft, of Freiston Shore, interrupted his own birthday celebrations to deliver the petition on Friday.

Mr Ravenscroft, 61, is calling on the Conservative Member of Parliament to apologise and give back the money he has used for advertising his contact details since becoming MP in 2001.

Mr Simmonds was not present when the petition was delivered, but Mr Ravenscroft said he was delighted with the response he received from the public.

Mr Ravenscroft, who was watched by close friend Hope Griffin when he took the petition to the Conservative’s Main Ridge West base, in Boston, said: “I am stunned by the response the petition received. I started it around 3pm on March 4 and was pleased that I had 20 signatures by that evening. When I got up the next morning it had gone up to around 500-600 and from then on it just snowballed.”

Within three days, 50,000 had signed the petition and that rose further to 65,000 in the following three days.

Mr Ravenscroft says he will now let the matter drop but is calling on Mr Simmonds to act. He said: “I hope the fact there was such a strong response from members of the public will persuade him to apologise and give back the money he has used for self-promotion.”

He added: “He has claimed more than £10,000 of tax payers’ money to promote himself. He has been advertising on boards at football clubs, a rugby club and on a local hospital radio show and the £10,000 he has spent on it comes straight from us, the tax payers.”

The Standard attempted to contact Mr Simmonds, however, the MP was unavailable for comment at the time.

He has previously hit out at what he called ‘ridiculous’ stories regarding the claims and said: “Making sure my constituents know how to contact me is a key part of my role as an MP and has proved invaluable for some constituents.”

He added: “A significant number of vulnerable people have rightly contacted me using the information detailed.

“Next I will be asked to refund the postage and paper I use to resolve their cases.”

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has investigated the claims and told The Standard that Mr Simmonds had acted ‘within the spirit of the 
rules’.