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Gotland official called in over favouritism claims

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 30 Jul 2009, 11:10

Published: 30 Jul 2009 11:10 GMT+02:00

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"I am now going to meet with Marianne Samuelsson and underline that which is a matter of course, a constitutional principle, that all are equal before the law. I would like to discuss with her view on this," the local government minister, Mats Odell told news agency TT on Thursday.

Odell has called Samuelsson in for talks after a tape emerged of her arguing that businessman Max Hansson should receive preferential treatment for plans to extend his property in a protected area.

"Max Hansson is one of our largest business people, or the most significant business-owner we have on the island," the former Green Party Member of Parliament is heard to have said at the March meeting of the county administrative board.

A recording of the meeting was made public by Sveriges Radio.

Samuelsson claimed in the meeting that other counties would do the same in granting dispensation to residents of standing.

"We can not lose business opportunities. We can not only have people walking around on the beach, you can't survive on that."

Samuelsson later approved Hansson's plans against the objections of several experts.

In the wake of the scandal Samuelsson has found herself isolated among her colleagues.

Björn Eriksson, county governor of Östergötland, told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD) on Thursday:

"On the available facts I can not accept that a person's importance is decisive in making a decision. One can not in public service make a difference between individuals, rich or poor."

Lars Bäckström, county governor of Västra Götaland, rejected Samuelsson's claim that he would surely not object to plans submitted by the head of locally-based firm Volvo to build by the beach.

"One can get dispensation for general reasons but not as a consequence of one's standing in society," he told SvD.

In accordance with a beach access law passed in 1996, a 300 metre coastal strip around Gotland is protected and therefore requires special dispensation from the board for any changes.

Hansson submitted an application to extend a house located within this 300 metre boundary. The plans were therefore subject to inspection and required special dispensation.

When an official for the board travelled to the property, in Östergarnslandet on the island's east coast, a series of other unapproved changes to the property were discovered.

Hansson has gradually extended his property from a modest 2,000 square metres to almost two hectares since 1975 and much of the work has been undertaken without planning permission, according to SvD.

These extensions include a tennis court and a golf green.

Story continues below…

Max Hansson has rejected the assertion that he has received favourable treatment from the board, on the contrary, they have been a perennial thorn in his side, he claims.

"It seems to be a right old mess at the county administrative board. I have always followed all laws and ordinances."

"What do those bureaucrats know about it? They play balalaika, not tennis," Hansson told SvD referring to a Russian string instrument in an apparent reference to supposed left-wing sympathies.

This is not the first time that Marianne Samuelsson has courted controversy.

She was criticized last year after it emerged that Nordstream, the firm behind the construction of a controversial gas pipeline from Russia to Germany under the Baltic sea, funded the 200,000 kronor ($27,000) extension of the Historical Museum of Gotland.

Samuelsson is currently on holiday and Mats Odell confirmed to the news agency TT on Thursday that he therefore expects the meeting to take place at an unspecified date in the near future.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:18 July 30, 2009 by peropaco
Isn't this the typical Swedish modi operandi? You can see it in all aspect of the society. You get favouritisms because you have a name like Löwenhaupt, Af this or that; or if your pockets runs deep like in the case of the above mentioned individual. She should be forced to leave her post.
13:56 July 30, 2009 by Nemesis
In Ireland we have the same problems.

Priests were classed as upstanding members of the commuity and got away with sexually abusing children for years because of that.

The same applied to property developers and bank investment brokers who helped crash the entire economy, into a black hole.

In my experience, an upstanding citizen is usually the biggest crook in the entire area.

We need to get away from animal farm politics and animal farm equality, animal farm business and animal farm social structures.

Marianne Samuelsson should be immediately fired and her pension revoked. Her crony friends can pay her pension.
05:48 July 31, 2009 by skane refugee
"Marianne Samuelsson should be immediately fired and her pension revoked. Her crony friends can pay her pension."

Agree 100% with this.

Her personal finances should also be audited for evidence of past bribes etc and regularly monitored for the rest of her life to ensure that mysterious 'gifts' or 'legacies' do not make an appearance in the future.
08:54 July 31, 2009 by peropaco
Well, it is Friday, anyone in a position to do something will go about getting loaded while stuffing their faces with snus, vomit their brain out and go to sleep.
09:37 July 31, 2009 by Puffin
I believe that she has also been reported to JO
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