CONVICTED slum landlord and Labour party member Terry Zaman, whose main business has gone bust with debts of over £1 million, is one of the main beneficiaries of a lucrative Kirklees Council grants scheme.
Despite previously having been made to repay Kirklees a £5,000 regeneration grant and being fined for renting a property unfit for human habitation, Zaman has been hand-picked by Kirklees Council officers and the Labour Cabinet to receive tens of thousands of pounds of Government cash to turn his properties in Dewsbury’s Daisy Hill into new flats.
Kirklees has refused to say exactly how much Zaman has been awarded out of the Empty Clusters Scheme, which had £2.8m of central funds to help turn empty retail or office properties in Dewsbury and Huddersfield into accommodation.
So far only four schemes in Dewsbury and seven in Huddersfield have been approved, with a long ‘reserve’ list of unsuccessful applicants.
Although applicants are limited to one scheme, a property near Zaman’s in Nelson Street has also been approved – which involves a former co-director of one of his firms.
Zaman’s plan involves turning the former offices of his tenant, MP Shahid Malik, plus a bed shop next door, into four ground floor and six first floor flats.
Although in his original planning application he designated these as being for ‘affordable housing’ he has since applied to have that condition discharged.
The two other Dewsbury plans approved are to convert the former County Court building in Eightlands, and a smaller town centre shop conversion.
Zaman has had repeated run-ins with planning officers and entire communities over his schemes to open mosques and madressas.
In 2005 he was fined £450 for letting a building to a family of five that was unfit was habitation.
Later he had to repay a £5,000 Kirklees grant and resigned from the Accredited Landlord Scheme.
More recently Zaman was fined £18,000 for fire safety breaches at his bed company Joseph International in Bradley, Huddersfield, described by a judge as a “death trap”.
That firm is now in administration although Zaman continues to sell beds from that building, via a network of websites.
In one of his property plans recommended for refusal by officers, Dewsbury East Labour councillor Eric Firth led a last-minute effort to overturn the decision in Zaman’s favour.
Despite being a case worker for MP Shahid Malik who was in virtually daily contact with Zaman, Coun Firth argued that he had no business or personal dealings with him.
A complaint to the Standards Board about Coun Firth’s intervention – he attended the meeting as a late substitute for a colleague – was subsequently dismissed.
Kirklees officers refused to disclose the Empty Clusters sums granted to Zaman and a scheme to turn a former gym in Nelson Street into 15 apartments by an entity called Bharuchi Developments.
Bharuchi Developments does not appear on Companies House listings, but is based at the home address in Caledonian Road, Savile Town, of Mr Yunus Patel.
Mr Patel was a co-director of Zaman of TMC Food & Leisure Ltd based at Yorkshire House in Dewsbury.
The Press submitted a wide range of questions to Kirklees Council regarding the Empty Clusters scheme, including a Freedom of Information request.
A spokesman said: “We are unable to disclose any detail in relation to specific scheme proposals funded through the project because it includes personal information relating to the applicants or is confidential commercial information relating the applicant's business.”