Labour Councillor ‘must be removed’

Labour Councillor ‘must be removed’ after conduct falls short of standards required.

Conservative councillors have called for Labour councillor Gulfraz Nawaz to be removed from his position of Chair of the council’s Personnel Committee.

Four months ago, Mr Nawaz was heavily criticised by the council’s standards committee after giving a reference to a taxi driver who had previous convictions. It was therefore recommended that Labour group leader Councillor Ranjit Banwait remove Mr Nawaz from the membership of two committees and strip him of the chairmanship of the Personnel Committee such was the seriousness of the complaint.

However this has been ignored by the Labour group leader.

The Personnel Committee is a very powerful body holding sway and significant influence across many council policies and decisions. It’s chair therefore must demonstrate the highest levels of integrity, something that Cllr Nawaz has fallen short of.

This has led to Conservative councillor Mick Barker calling upon Councillor Nawaz to resign and raising a vote of no confidence at last weeks Personnel Committee meeting,

A show of hands took place, but it was lost 4-3 –  three votes from the Conservative councillors present support the no confidence vote, the four Labour councillors opposing it and one abstention, from the single Liberal Democrat councillor present.

Cllr Barker reacted to the defeat of the no confidence vote by saying, “Clearly, it was more important for people to vote on party lines at the personnel meeting which was disappointing. But we will not be letting this go and we wanted to raise the profile of this issue and bring it to public’s attention.

This will not end here as we need to ensure there is an absolutely no question of corruption by councillors within Derby City Council as this is something the public are now questioning.

No one from the Derby Labour Group is commenting on the situation and that totally unacceptable. This isn’t going a way and their leader needs to act.”

Leader of Derby City Council Conservative group said, “Corruption is a very strong word, but it’s being used by a growing number of the public who are appalled by what they are hearing.

In regard to the PPC, you have to question if he should hold the dual role of crime commissioner and councillor. At the very least he should not be directly involved in decisions that overlap with police matters or put him in conflict with the very high standards of integrity he is expected to uphold.

Yesterday’s meeting clearly placed him in a position where his two roles conflicted and he actively and publicly supported a colleague who has been found to have breached the code of conduct in relation to taxi licensing. That is coupled with concerns now being raised by a senior police officer in regard to vehicles.

Ultimately this also calls into question the Labour leader, Ranjit Banwait’s judgement. Not only is he refusing to act upon the clear recommendations from the standards committee in regard to Cllr Nawaz but he had also completely failed to manage what is a growing issue of Labour councillor’s being placed on committees where, in my view, there is the potential for these issues to occur.

I believe his refusal to deal with this is more about him securing support for his leadership within the Labour group. I believe that this shows that his leadership matters more to him than ensuring the integrity of the council’s licensing regime is not called into question.

If he wants to prove me wrong, he should act and remove Cllr Nawaz from his responsibilities.”