Calls for full review into councillor's conduct to 'restore confidence' in Sheffield

Sheffield City Council’s opposition party the Liberal Democrats are calling for a full review of all the contracts and decisions made by cabinet member Mazher Iqbal over the last four years.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 2:57 pm

This comes a week after The Star broke the news of a complaint submitted against Coun Iqbal by Simon Ogden, the former head of regeneration at Sheffield City Council

The allegations include meeting with developers without council officers present and wasting thousands of pounds of public money by delaying consultations without explanation as to why.

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Mazher Iqbal.

All these allegations took place while Coun Iqbal was sitting cabinet member for Business and Investment. Following the election in May, he was appointed Executive Member for City Futures: Development, Culture and Regeneration.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal has now been ‘stepped aside’ from his cabinet duties while the investigation takes place.

Lib Dem Leader Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed said the review was necessary “to try and help rebuild trust with businesses and reassure businesses and investors that there is a level playing field for investment in Sheffield.”

He explained: “These are very serious allegations and I think Sheffield City Council needs to start rebuilding trust now.

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed

“The complaint alleges that Cllr Iqbal wasted tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money by delaying decisions at the last minute with no explanation as to why. It also alleges that Cllr Iqbal met with developers without council officers - breaching Local Government Association advice.

“Sheffield Council has had its issues with trust and openness in the past. This is the time the council can show it has changed.

“We need to support and encourage businesses to invest in Sheffield as we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic but the council needs to show that it is taking this complaint seriously and that we want a level playing field for businesses and investors.

“The complaint is serious enough for Cllr Iqbal to step aside from making future decisions, so why shouldn’t we also look at the decisions he’s made in the past?”

Coun Mohammed has submitted questions to next week’s Full Council meeting asking leaders of the Green/Labour coalition Councillor Terry Fox and Green Councillor Douglas Johnson the following questions:

– When did you learn about the complaint/concerns by a senior City Council Officer Simon Ogden in relation to Cllr Mazher Iqbal.

– Given the gravity of the complaints made against Cllr Iqbal, will the leader of Council agree to undertake a full review of all contracts and decisions made by Cllr Iqbal in the last 4 years?

– How does the leader of Council intend to rebuild trust and reassure developers & businesses that there is a “Level Playing Field” in terms of how Sheffield City Council interacts with potential investors?

– Have any other City Council Officers, past or present, lodged complaints in relation to the behaviour & conduct of Cllr Iqbal?

When Coun Iqbal’s suspension was announced, Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “Councillor Iqbal is defending this complaint robustly. However, I have stepped him aside from his duties, whilst the investigation is taking place. This will ensure that the investigation does not distract from the important work of the new administration, which will continue to focus on putting Sheffield first.”