Councillors talk tough on MMBC

Issue 545



KIRKLEES councillors have referred the Muslim Mosque Burial Committee to the taxman and vowed to ‘get tough’ on the recommendations of a report into the operation run by present and former Labour councillors Abdul Patel and Ghulam Maniyar. 



An attempt by fellow Labour members David Sheard and Darren O’Donovan to absolve the men of blame fell on deaf ears at the Kirklees Council meeting on Wednesday, which was attended by a large group of supporters of Coun Patel and Mr Maniyar.



The Kirklees governance and audit committee accepted the report into the massive failings of both the council and the MMBC, passed a motion to refer it to Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs, and emphasised the council’s resolve to recoup as much lost revenue as possible.



Afterwards, former Tory councillor Khizar Iqbal, who raised concerns over the burial ground while still on the council, said he was making a criminal complaint to Kirklees Police over the men’s failures to meet burial laws.



Last week’s report by senior office Martin Dearnley said Kirklees had lost a minimum of £31,000 from not enforcing agreed rent reviews, plus a further £50,000 based on early surrender of the mismanaged burial ground.



Councillors voted to increase rent, secure backpay and a share of businesses rates, although the plot of land, intended for 712 graves, will be full at 450, with more than 400 already used.



They also want negotiations to take back the Temple Road site early to include compensation.



Coun Darren O’Donovan (Dewsbury West) whose ward the burial ground is in, said: “I don’t see anything inappropriate by those involved (in the MMBC). 



“What I do see though is a lack of support from the council to the group, particularly to enable them to become a charity.”



Coun David Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike) – who is not on the audit committee – spoke at length about the matter effectively being a dispute between Coun Patel and the man he ousted in the May local elections, Khizar Iqbal.



He also tried to pin some of the blame for the saga on the council’s previous Tory administration, specifically Mirfield member Martyn Bolt, referring to a draft report by transport officers on the burial ground which was never acted upon.



A motion was later passed requiring officers to find how the draft report was seemingly not given to whoever the then Cabinet post holder was.



Conservative councillor and Tory deputy leader David Hall (Liversedge and Gomersal) voted against accepting the report because he didn’t feel it went far enough.



Coun Hall said: “There’s nothing in the recommendations that expresses the council’s disappointment that the MMBC didn’t keep up to their side of the lease.



“Nobody comes out of this smelling of roses. But the report is onesided. There’s a lot about the council’s role, but the council’s view of the MMBC is not recorded.”



Committee chairman Coun Hilary Richards (Lab) said: “It’s a very thorough report and I think the questions asked have brought out a lot of information.



“The recommendations are a chance for the council to learn from what has happened in the past and good use should be made of that learning.”



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