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Two met councillors referred to police

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A Sandwell MBC investigation has led to two councillors being referred to the police and the council’s monitoring officer in relation to land sales and housing allocations. 

A further two members have been reported to the monitoring officer over the removal of a plot of land from a publicised auction.

An investigation report will go to Sandwell’s audit committee on Thursday.

Chief executive Jan Britton said: “The council treats all allegations of wrongdoing or impropriety with the utmost seriousness.

“For that reason, we have carried out extensive investigations into a number of issues relating to land sales, housing allocations and other matters that have been brought to our attention.”

He said some of the allegations dated back many years and had come to light following more recent investigations.

The report said councillors Babu Bawa (Lab) and Mahboob Hussain (Ind Lab) had been referred to West Midlands Police’s Regional Organised Crime Unit over potential collusion and fraudulent practice against the council.

This concerned an exclusive bid for self-build plots in 1999, restricted to land in which the two councillors had already expressed an interest.

The report noted that the two councillors and their immediate family members submitted bids that “gave the impression of potential cover pricing and bid suppression”.

All four bids for one plot came from Cllr Hussain and his family “without any declaration to the council that this was the case”, the report said.

Cllr Bawa had failed to declare his role as a councillor when a planning application was submitted on his behalf in October 2007, it added.

A further referral of Cllr Hussain to police concerns allocations of 10 council properties that “look like a conspiracy to defraud and/or misconduct in a public office, as the outcomes of a number of decisions about housing allocations seem to all benefit the members of Councillor Hussain’s family”, the report said.

Ian Jones (Lab) and Mohammad Rouf (Lab) were referred to the monitoring officer over the removal of a plot from a publicised auction, although the sale ultimately did not proceed.

All four councillors have been contacted by LGC for comment.

Cllr Jones said: “With regard to the allegation which was made publicly without any advance notice of the content I deny any wrongdoing and are taking legal advice on my options.”

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