The below letter was sent to Mr Duddridge on Monday 22nd September 2014, via Royal Mail first class postage. For the background to the sending of this letter, see the original article in the Southend Echo here, and my response to the issues raised here.
Dear Mr Duddridge,
I am writing to you, as your constituent, to express my concern over the recent local news reports around your claims for parliamentary expenses. In particular, I refer to the front-page report carried by the Southend Echo on Monday 15th September 2014, entitled “MP IN ROW OVER HOTEL EXPENSES”.
In the intervening week since this report was published, I have attempted to contact you on Twitter in order to ask your response to the allegations made, that:
You claimed in excess of £11,000 of expenses for accommodation in London for the 2013/2014 year.
You did this despite:
Owning two properties in London, and;
Living less than an hour’s train journey from London.
I am concerned that, if this is indeed true, it demonstrates that you have learnt none of the pertinent lessons of the 2009 expenses scandal.
We are fortunate to live in a town in which a commute to London is not only possible but convenient, and like many others living in Southend it is a commute which I make daily to work in central London. I frequently work late, but have not yet encountered a situation where I have needed to stay overnight in a hotel in place of the return journey.
Your claims may be within the letter of the rules, but I cannot see that they are within the spirit. The last train from Fenchurch Street departs at 11.50 p.m., and with the legislative agenda being particularly light at this stage of the present Parliament it would surely be a rarity that even the last train would be required.
I am, as I have been throughout the past week, eager to hear your response to this. As you are no doubt aware, there is a growing sense of apathy and of disconnect between voters and politics, and it is stories like these which are the cause. I am particularly concerned that despite approach by myself and others – including a letter printed on the letters page of the Echo – you have not yet seen fit to make a response or answer questions.
I hope that this letter will evoke exactly such a response. In the interest of transparency and openness, I will be displaying this letter on my website, and will do likewise with any response you choose to send.
Matthew S. Dent