Just when it seemed that we might have got to the bottom of scandals which involve the Labour Party in Liverpool along comes another one. This time it involves inappropriate behaviour from Cabinet Member Abdul Qadir.
Although he correctly gives his directorship of the Councillors Register of Interest, he has failed to declare his position at a series of meetings in the Council and in particular served as a member of the ‘task and finish’ group which looked at fractional investment in the City.
The problem is that Cllr Qadir is a director of a company which has shared directors and management with of a property development company which has a failed site in the City on Vauxhall Road. This stalled development is one of the companies that failed to pay the planning gain money of about £60,000 which is part of the £4.5 million that the Council has had to write off in unpaid S106 money.
These are the very clear links between three associated Companies:
Abdul Basit Qadir (born august 76) is director of Vega Trading Limited (co number 08761349). The other director is Sami Labidi.
Vega Group Limited has one Director – Joan Labidi.
There is also Vega Constructions Ltd, where Joan Labidi and Sami Labidi are directors. The nature of the business of this company is development and construction of commercial and domestic buildings.
There is a clear thread across all 3 companies of linked persons with control. Abdul Qadir is linked to Sami Labidi. Joan Labidi is linked to Sami Labidi.
Cllr Qadir cannot claim not to know about these issues, nor can he say they are nothing to do with him. At one point a Liverpool Council officer emailed Cllr Qadir chasing a large S106 payment – around £57k. Cllr Qadir also witnessed the S106 agreement between MV Canal and Liverpool Council.
I am so appalled at this that I have referred the matter to Joanne Anderson as Labour Group Leader and the City Solicitor for both of them to examine whether or not Cllr Qadir should have declared an interest on a number of occasions and whether internal and external disciplinary action should be taken.
It is quite clear that as someone who works for a developer within the City, he should have gone nowhere the “fractional investment task group”. The fact that he claims that the failed development with which he has been associated was not financed in this way is irrelevant. I was also on the stalled development task group and I know that many of the interviews that we conducted with outside organisations, in a private and confidential setting, yielded information that would have been of interest to any developer.
Over the past 7 years we have debated on many occasions the problems of stalled developments in the City, what to do about them, problems with our Local Plan and the problems associated with £4.5 million of S106 money that hasn’t been collected. I cannot recall Cllr Qadir declaring an interest on any of the occasions that these matters have been discussed. This is particularly relevant given that Cllr Qadir’s associated company itself has apparently gone bust owing a large amount of S106 money that it is unlikely that the Council can recover.
It is also a moot point whether Cllr Qadir has broken the law. It is certainly a point that the Police need to look at as part of Operation Aloft.
Whether or not Cllr Qadir has acted illegally or against the legal constraints of the Council he has clearly broken a number of the guiding Nolan principles which guide the Council. The Nolan principles are ones that all public officials both paid and elected should follow. The cardinal rule of them all is do not do something which can be misinterpreted by a well-meaning member of the public. On that basis Cllr Qadir failed the test.
But there is another twist to this story. Ironically, he is the Cabinet Member who has been given the job or revising the constitution of the Council and raising the standards of public life in the Council after the scandals of the past decade. This work has involved a review of councillors register of interests; overhauling the committee system which scrutinises the work of the Cabinet and officers; looking at delegated powers actions; and overhauling our constitution. In other words, it is designed to place the Nolan principles at the heart of our work as a council.
I have no doubt is saying that Cllr Qadir should consider his position as a Cabinet Member and even as a Councillor. The idea that he should be responsible for the fundamental reforms needed in our crisis hit council is not sustainable. He should be removed from these duties forthwith.
This is a major blunder by Cllr Qadir. He should now pay the price to avoid even more suspicion of what Liverpool Council does and the way in which it does it.