Friday, 31 October 2014

Arts Council Private Statue Stunt - It's Even Worse Than We Thought!

In my post of 7th September, 2014, "Arts Council Money Diverted for Private Statue Stunt!" I pointed out that Sandwell Labour used money from the pathetic "Sandwell Arts Festival" to push Jim Cadman's private statue project in a grotesque spectacle whereby black actors who were supposed to be portraying black footballers in an alleged "anti-racist" campaign were forced to be covered in gold paint (even though the wretched statue - if ever made - will be "mid-brown" in colour). Is this not, er, racist?

The (proposed) grotesque statue is an obsession of the self-appointed "Voice of The Baggies", the inane Sandwell Council Leader, Darren "The Turdmeister" Cooper, and Labour have already made a smash and grab raid on funds intended for infrastructure improvements and sent £30,000 of public money to Jim Cadman instead (there will be another blog about this shortly).

Not content with this obscenity, Cooper has forced the Council (again at taxpayers' expense) to publicise the statue at every opportunity and, of course, the narcissist never misses a chance at self-promotion on these occasions. Sandwell Labour's utter contempt for the arts is well known and they put just £9,000 into the so-called Sandwell Arts Festival. Even then they managed to screw £4,140 of that out of the Arts Council (despite shafting that organisation good and proper over The Public).

And so instead of promoting the arts someone - presumably Cooper - ordered this hideous display (on two separate days) in support of the Cadman's private project and made sure he was on hand to get his photo in the papers.

Moron (right) spends public money on grotesque stunt
In my earlier blog I pointed out that of the "festival" budget, Cooper had diverted £844 for this nonsense to pay the actors. Thanks to my follow-up Freedom of Information request I can tell you that cash-strapped Sandwell Labour (who are also sacking vast numbers of their own workforce) ALSO paid the following sums:

1. For the gold paint artist to disguise black actors representing, er, black footballers £380 (yes, you read that right, three hundred and eighty pounds!); and

2. Despite the money the Comrades pump into WBAFC and the Albion Foundation they were apparently unable to borrow some kit and so spent taxpayers' money of, wait for it, £205.90 for the actors to dress up as WBA players! I just hope it was donated to a good home afterwards.....

And so, the Arts Council and Sandwell Labour paid to promote a private enterprise with public money to the tune of £1,469.90p - virtually a sixth of the budget for the entire "festival". Still, at least The Dear Leader got his publicity from the grovellers in the mainstream media and so you may think it was all money well-spent!

 URGENT ADDENDUM 31/10/14 I have just found the planning permission for this. It is well hidden on the SMBC website. You will find it stuck in "Street Record" under New Square, West Bromwich. But what is totally unbelievable here is that the applicant for planning permission is none other than Nick Bubalo of Sandwell Council via an agent who is another SMBC employee! This is supposed to be a private project! And guess who has signed the grant of planning permission via his "delegated authority" - yes my friends, Mr Nick Bubalo of SMBC. What on earth is going on here?

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

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Skidder Shorts No. 19 - Labour Noses in the Allowances Trough!

As long last Sandwell Council has fulfilled its legal requirement to publish the list of allowances for councillors. The list is slightly historical as it is made up to 31st March, 2014. It shows the gravy train travelling at full speed whilst more redundancies hit hard-pressed SMBC staff. For some reason I am unable to link the schedule to this post so go to the Sandwell Council website if you want to peruse it at your leisure. Press the tab marked "About the Council" and then the box marked ""Local Councillors". Scroll down the page that comes up and you will find it. I will just mention here a few of the more "interesting" points.

Of the huge Labour Group only seven (yes, seven) do not receive a "special responsibility" payment on top of the basic allowance of £10,619.04p. It seems that if you can cheer every utterance of the moronic "leader" in council meetings you can pick up another couple of grand.....or more....

The motormouth Cooper himself scores an extra £26.276.04 making £36,895.08 in total. Usually not shy when inflicting his crazed views on the public he has been remarkably reticent recently about the loan he said he had for his big house extension and where he told people he got the loan from. I do hope he is keeping up with the repayments!

Deputy Leader [sic] Eling who lied about the casino legal costs and whose disastrous and illegal CTR scheme lost Sandwell a grant of £675,000 and led to huge legal costs for the taxpayer has to get by with an extra £23,649.96 (£34,269 in total) and still claims to be working at the same time for, er, Rotherham Council. Fortunately for the hard-pressed Eling household his wife works for SMBC too!

At least Eling is working. I have pointed out before that a large number of the comrades are allegedly unemployed. Some have been claiming benefits in the past and this is likely to feature in this blog again shortly....

Presumably for his masturbatory tweeting in praise of The Great Helmsman the cipher Moore scores a total of £26, 386.08 as well as being a parliamentary researcher for the expenses-guzzler-in-chief, Tom Watson MP. Ian Jones who recently lied about the Bog-gate valuation live on BBC radio picks up the same sum. Nice!

Even the liar Cashmore gets an extra divvy too - presumably to assist with her travelling expenses! Lying Lucy gets an extra £2,628 on top of her basic allowance! She has not bothered to turn up for some full council meetings this year.

(By the way, the police are supposed to be investigating lies told by some Sandwell Labour councillors via the Register of Member Interests and also some potential electoral misdemeanours. Whilst the investigations are still with West Midland Police I am pleased to say that matters have been taken away from Sandwell. If you have any information - particularly as to residence of councillors - please contact DS P. Gilece, West Midlands Police, Aquarius 2, Aston Cross Business Park, 50 Rocky Lane, Birmingham B6 5RQ. Of course, The Skidder will also be happy to pass information on....)

Take a look at the list to see the full horror of it all. But the greatest shock is on the second page where a man who apparently can't remember which hand to wipe his arse with when it comes to getting council contracts etc rakes in a total of £34,269! Yes, step forward the other Deputy Leader [sic] and local pauper - Mahboob Hussain!

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Mahboob Hussain's Caring Nature!

Sandwell Labour's Deputy Leader has been getting a bad press lately and so it is incumbent upon me to detail his solicitous side.

Mrs Irene Hale passed away this year. She has been described to me as "staunch Labour". She lived at 2 Judge Close, Oldbury - a Sandwell Council house - for donkey's years but latterly lived alone with happy memories of her late Husband and with pride in bringing up her lovely family.

In 2012 Mahboob Hussain came a'canvassing and spent a long time talking to Mrs Hale. He asked her whether she would not be happier moving to a smaller property. No, said Mrs H, she was very happy where she was thank you!

In 2013 at election time Hussain re-appeared. Wouldn't she be happier in a flat he wondered and did she know she could get financial help if she wanted to move? Mrs Hale, already terminally-ill, told him the only way she was leaving was "in a box". Later she reported this conversation to someone else with the words, "I'm sure he's after my house you know."

This year Mrs Hale died and folk were considerably surprised when Labour's Deputy Leader turned up at the funeral but that's Mahboob for you - a really caring sort of a guy.....

Not long afterwards various "improvements" were undertaken at the property - presumably at the taxpayers' expense - and a family moved in......


(Note - there are matters arising from recent occupancy of this property which I have referred to Sandwell Police. No doubt this is also a matter for Sandwell Council's non-independent "investigation" to look into).

Whilst on the subject of property there is a very curious tale about the Leader of the Council's home extension. A few years ago, Darren Cooper had a two-storey extension and garage built at his house in Londonderry Lane. He was quite properly referred to in the planning application papers of 2003 although they were formally submitted in his partner's name. Now the curious thing here is that he has put it about that he borrowed the money for this from "source A" but now refuses to answer questions about this. No doubt he is merely trying to protect his privacy and there is nothing untoward. One has to assume that what he has told people was, for reasons unknown, incorrect. How odd!

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

E-mail:   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com                       Twitter:   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

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Saturday, 18 October 2014

FOI Reply discloses yet more Sandwell Labour Lies!

This blog may not deal with weighty issues such as undervalued land sales etc but it does encapsulate everything that is rotten in the "socialist" State of Sandwell.

For many years, Mr Lee Judge (ably assisted by a band of dedicated helpers) has put on music events around Sandwell under the "Judgestock" banner. It is not as if the young folk have much entertainment provided within the Borough but Judgestock not only became a popular event but raised lots of money for charity to boot.

Judgestock moved to The Public. It steadily grew year-on-year and in 2012 had an incredibly successful event attended by some 2,000 local music-lovers. Obviously, Sandwell Labour could not allow that to continue....

The general reader will probably not understand the level of hatred towards The Public at the top of the Council. Obviously "Disastrous" Darren Cooper and Mahboob "Keep it in the Family" Hussain were determined to shaft it at all costs and there were a number of time-servers and arse-lickers within SMBC happy to do their bidding (most of them still there despite mass sackings). Accordingly, Sandwell Labour decided that it would be very happy to expand Judgestock into a three-day "festival" in Sandwell Valley to run at the same time as the popular and much-loved Sandwell Show. What could possibly go wrong.....

(It might be entirely coincidental that wealthy West Brom MP, Tom "Anywhere but Sandwell" Watson, was, at this time, constantly tweeting his "knowledge" of the youth music scene. His many tweets when he took a break from his expenses forms to attend Glastonbury were legendary).

With Sandwell Show on at the same time - August Bank Holiday 2013 - there was the facility to spread "infrastructure" costs across the two events and a great marketing opportunity - particularly as Judgestock was intended as a "charity" event. One of the main "press officers" at SMBC at the time was ex-Express and Star and those arse-lickers were happy to give free publicity to their friends. The Sandwell Council twitter feed - presumably intended to provide the public with easy access to information on council services - instead went into overdrive attempting to flog the tickets.

Unfortunately, anything Sandwell Council tries to promote is unlikely to be "cool". In this case things rapidly started to go "stone-cold" as ticket sales were disappointing. Desperation began to set in and Sandwell Council started to tweet "offers". As early as 9th August the comrades were offering BOGOF on a 3-day pass ie two £30 tickets for the price of one. The kiss of death was probably when the "Trolling Turd" -@sandwellleader - joined in the big promotional push and promised it's "gonna be great". As the Bank Holiday neared, the Council was frantically tweeting that tickets were available "on the gate".

Accordingly, it came as some surprise to my small team after the Bank Holiday when the Council and their mates at the Express and Star started hailing the event as a great success although it was quite clear even then that the "spin" had started. There was some "fudging" of the facts and the number of attendees was being "lost" by being included in the crowds that attended the Sandwell Show. Nevertheless, the Wolverhampton arse-lickers happily printed, "a total of 10,000 tickets were sold priced between £12 and £30". I know that the public can no longer trust "The Star" but I don't suppose they made this up (particularly as the full-price adult tickets were, in fact, £12 and £30 when not heavily discounted) and so this could only have come from Sandwell Council. As we will shortly see, this was a downright LIE. Just hold in your mind that even allowing for some "under-18" tickets - but balanced with those tickets sold at over £12 - the ticket sales alleged amounted to an absolute MINIMUM of £120,000.

Let me say here that all reports are that the music event itself was very good and much-enjoyed. Lee Judge mustered an incredible team of 80 (yes, eighty) volunteers to successfully deliver the event (and it is just as well since their considerable work and achievement saved the taxpayer considerable further costs). I understand that a number of acts also performed on a voluntary basis. Unfortunately, the charitable object of the festival got somewhat lost as the Pyongyang-style Council took over all control.

There were grave doubts immediately about the truthfulness of Sandwell Council's statements and Mr Brian Crockett put in a Freedom of Information request about the costs. It should have been immediately apparent that something was wrong when Sandwell Labour refused to answer the simple question by saying that the breakdown would only be disclosed at the end of the Council's financial year when the accounts for the whole Council are published. Quite reasonably, Mr Crockett assumed that the sleazy "socialists" were telling the truth about this and let things lie (if that is not an unfortunate choice of phrase!)

I was suspicious since the full Council accounts NEVER go down into this sort of fine detail and, sure enough, the financial year ended and when the accounts were finally published - NOTHING! I put in a new Freedom of Information request dated 11th August, 2014. Bearing in mind that the comrades had already lied to Mr Crockett by saying that all the figures would be prepared for the year-end accounts (31st March, 2014) it took them over two months to actually respond - the reply finally coming through yesterday, 17th October, 2014. But then Sandwell Labour have utter contempt for the Freedom of Information Act (brought in by, er, Labour) and this is from the "top" down. The idiotic "leader", Cooper, regularly trolls people who make such requests via his allegedly "personal" twitter account which is headed "Cllr Darren Cooper" and uses the handle "@sandwellleader". Cllr Ian Jones, a member of Labour's joke "cabinet" lost no time in attacking me for making FoI requests on BBC WM radio recently when discussing Bog-gate - unhappily another example where Labour have lied in a FoI reply!!! (This was also the same interview where Jones himself lied on live radio about the Bog-gate valuation!)

And finally, the truth is out some 14 months after the event. Rather than the absolute MINIMUM of ticket sales claimed by lying Labour of £120,000 the actual ticket sales were £43,945.00p (36.6% of the absolute MINIMUM figure). Maybe these liars don't like FoI requests because they get caught out telling massive porkies to voters and taxpayers?

(I am assuming the figure given is exclusive of Vat and the large commission to the ticket agents, Ticketmaster, or the position is far, far worse....)

Strangely, the figures published include allege parking income of £9,301 but this seems very odd and I wonder whether there is some "overlap" here with the Sandwell Show?

The very low ticket sales - despite massive hype (itself done at taxpayers' expenses) - meant that even with the dubious parking income Labour cost the taxpayer £52,283,50p at a time when they are blaming everyone but themselves for massive cuts and job losses. Had the ticket sales claimed by the crafty comrades actually been achieved the event would have just about broken even - but only thanks to all the work of the brilliant volunteers.

Of course, the thick "leader" of the Labour Council, Cooper, was happy to attack me publicly via twitter for alleging waste here with the statement, "That I'm afraid is only in your tiny mind".

The only glimmer of hope from this sorry tale is that Judgestock battles on with its dedicated volunteer team and I hope they can find a decent "home" for the event in future years. Please try and support them if you get the chance.

I have said that the Sandwell Labour liars shouldn't be allowed to run a whelk stall. One thing's for sure - they shouldn't be allowed to run a music festival!

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

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Confidential phone no: 07599 983737




Friday, 17 October 2014

How to Win Friends and Influence People Sandwell - Style!

I am indebted to the very many members of Sandwell's Muslim community who have contacted The Skidder expressing their concern about the "curious" way Sandwell's Labour Council conducts its business. (And please do continue to contact me!)

The name of one organisation keeps cropping up over and over again - The "SMO" or Sandwell Muslim Organisation - in which Labour Deputy Leader Mahboob Hussain was once a leading light. Now there are many stories about that organisation but, here, I will just share one with you together with some other matters of concern.

There is a rather nice large building (formerly two separate office buildings) right opposite the Kremlin at 33/35 Church Street which the SMO coveted. Sandwell Labour were anxious to help and back in 2003 the then Head of Corporate Property offered a lease of the building (probably on very favourable terms). But SMO spun them a yarn that their own original estimate for refurbishment was inadequate and that to raise further capital from the bank what they actually needed was, er, an option to purchase the freehold instead. The Head of Corporate Property readily agreed as did the Cabinet Member for Urban Form although the Council insisted upon a restrictive covenant (ie a legal requirement) that the SMO couldn't sell the property to a non-charitable party for 25 years.

It appears that the actual transfer was dated 13th August, 2003 and so there should have been no re-sale until. at least, August 2028 (unless to another charity). The legal transfer was to two individuals as "trustees" but only one was named at HM Land Registry as the Proprietor - Mr Abdul Fazal Hussain (apparently NOT a close relative of the the Dear Deputy Leader). Later Council documents claim that the sale was at "open market value" but that figure is not shown publicly anywhere. Of course, the market value would be much lower than "normal" because of the restrictive covenant.

At this time the SMO was also getting large grants of taxpayers money from Sandwell Labour and, apparently, from the Big Lottery Fund but became mired in financial and other internal problems. In 2004 SMO suggested that Labour either buy back the lease (!) or allow an amendment to the restrictive covenant permitting various individual trustees to take the freehold and they would then -themselves - grant a 24-year lease to the SMO. It is not clear who these other mysterious trustees were. The Head of Legal and Democratic Services was left to sort it out with the Head of Corporate Property though little progress seems to have been made.

For financial year 2005/2006, Sandwell's Labour Council had agreed to pump in £33,650 to the SMO even though the Big Lottery Fund was withholding cash because of "concerns".

On 9th November, 2005 three cabinet members resolved to stop funding the SMO from 1st April,2006. At the time they were again told that four unnamed individuals would buy the property and lease it back to the SMO - but that the bank of these four individuals needed release of the restrictive covenant! Cooper and his two colleagues agreed to that subject to the building being repaired AND the lease being granted. The sale of the building to the "four individuals" would allegedly bring in enough cash to keep the SMO going.

But it appears that nothing happened. The funding stopped and, so far as I can see, the property just sat there until 2012. If anyone had a problem it was Mr Abdul Fazal Hussain - presumably still as a "trustee" - who could not dispose of the property except to a charity. Or could he.......?

(I should add here that a Mr Saf Hussain made a Freedom of Information Act request about the amount of money Sandwell Labour piled into the SMO but was refused the information in their usual arrogant way. Part of it was eventually answered by a Mr Cross who appears to be a member of the public!!!! The figures he supplied were £32,675 for 2005/2006 and some small winding down costs of £2,975 in 2006/2007).

Nothing seems to have happened then until 2012 when then there are a number of "strange" occurrences. Mr Abdul Fazal Hussain - still apparently the sole registered proprietor - applied for planning permission to change the use of the building from office use to TWO residential units. The first strange thing here is that if you type "Church Street, Oldbury" into the Sandwell Council website there is no trace of ANY planning applications for 33 or 35. But I did manage to eventually find the application under number DC/12/55148 in a Planning Committee report (see below).

Another oddity is that the declarations on the application are signed 7th June, 2012, as was the separate fee form, but the application was allegedly not received by Sandwell Council until 17th September. Someone, somewhere, appears to have been waiting for something to happen.....

If you look at the application itself the detail in the planning report is very sparse indeed but the matter was not dealt with by the planning committee. Instead it was decided solely by our old friend £108,614 per annum Area Director, Nick Bubalo, who approved the plan for TWO residential units in 22nd October, 2012 under the "delegated authority" given to him by the Labour comrades.

But trumping all this is a reference in the current Land Registry title to an event of key importance that happened just 10 days before Bubalo granted the planning permission ie:

"By a deed dated 12th October, 2012 made between (1) The Borough Council of Sandwell and (2) Abdul Fazal Hussain the covenants contained in the transfer dated 13th August, 2003..... were expressed to be released."

And so Mr A. F. Hussain had gone from owning an office building in a poor state of repair and encumbered with a restrictive covenant on 17th September to a much more valuable building free of the legal restriction and with planning permission just 5 weeks or so later!!!!

Now I have searched and searched for any reference to any Council committee deciding to release the covenant to no avail and it is now imperative that Sandwell Labour explain (a) who agreed to release the covenant and why, (b) who dealt with this in SMBC's legal department and did they know about the planning application that was then in progrees and (c) how much they asked Mr A. F. Hussain to pay them (ie us, the taxpayers) for the covenant release? There is also the question of who paid for the legal costs of drawing up the Deed.

Now something else odd happens. The property is converted not into two residential units but into six ie 33, 33a, 33b, 35, 35a and 35b Church Street. As above there is no reference to this on the SMBC planning website and, this time, I cannot even find any reference to the change in any planning committee report. It may be there but I can't find it in the expected places.

Mr A.F. Hussain then sold all six units to a company based in Wolverhampton. I have done some searches and as far as I can see that Company is entirely legitimate. Now it seems very unlikely that a legitimate company would have bought the properties without being satisfied that the appropriate planning permissions had been granted. My guess is that they were since the six units were not sold until, it seems, 15th October, 2013. There was probably an application in the interim which has disappeared from the Council website for whatever reason. (There are just some later building control applications on there apparently made by the new owner in 2014).

Oh, and I forgot to mention. The property was sold for £170,000. Quite how Mr A.F.Hussain is divvying up the money in his capacity as a trustee I know not. Neither do many members of the local Muslim community who have contacted me!!!

It remains to be seen what was paid for the property with a covenant in 2003 but, on the face of it, a valuable public asset has been let go yet again by Labour for a song.

Which brings me neatly on to two more mosque "deals" involving restrictive covenants......


We travel over to Tipton and to a large plot of land on the north side of Peel Street. This is the long, thin, rectangular area of land in the Google Earth photo above just to the left of the orange pointer.

It seems that way back on 1st December, 1995 this land was conveyed by Sandwell Council to the trustees of the nearby Kanz-ul-Iman Mosque three minutes walk away in Benfield Street. There were restrictive covenants. This is a large plot measuring 120 m x 16 m - suitable for an entire terrace of houses. It is not clear what exactly this 1995 Deed conferred upon the Mosque trustees.

Once again, there is no mention of what happened in early 2013 via internet searches but whatever the position previously, Sandwell Labour formally conveyed the land to the Mosque on 30th January, 2013 - again with restrictive covenants - for just £25,000. That is cheap even for an 84-space car park in Tipton!

In went a planning application for an "overspill" car park and this is what the Express and Star reported:

"Leaders at the Kanz-ul-Iman mosque,................., is [sic] now hoping to construct the new car park on derelict land that is nearby.
Planning bosses at Sandwell Council will consider the application at a meeting next Wednesday, for the site at the junction of Peel Street and Barnett Street, which is a three-minute walk from the mosque on Binfield Street.
The committee is recommended to approve the application, subject to a number of conditions including limiting its use to between 8am and 9pm.
The current site used to be a housing estate, but that was cleared and it has been left vacant for about 15 years.
Graham Durrant, who is acting as agent for the application, said: “The mosque itself has its own car park, but this application is only for occasional use for things like funerals, special days, things like that.
“It won’t be open and used daily, so it’s a fairly low-key thing really. It will benefit so there won’t be traffic around the nearby island junction on busy days.”
Of course, the application was granted. Let us hope that a similar situation doesn't occur as above and that Labour doesn't simply remove the covenant in secret at a future date - in which case a huge piece of publicly-owned land will have gone for just £25,000.

There are other instances of Labour transferring car parks to mosques eg Cambridge Street, Smethwick but regular readers will be aware of the attempt by Labour to sell a large car-park in West Bromwich to the Mosque a few minutes walk away in Dartmouth Street. The full list of my blogs on this potential scandal is set out below the subscription but suffice to say here that although the Dartmouth Street Mosque has its own 19-space car park and is within a very short walking distance of two SMBC pay and display car parks and a very short walk from bus routes along the High Street and from the Metro station, the plan was to gift a further non-adjacent car park to them at a low price on the basis that there would be a, er, restrictive covenant. Anybody detect a pattern emerging here.....?

Of course the Mosque had only received planning permission relatively recently where traffic was deemed to be unlikely to cause a problem (according to SMBC officers) but then, suddenly, traffic WAS alleged to be a problem - particularly on a Friday! As ever, Labour were keeping everything secret in the Committee papers (Committee Chair - Sandwell's most-celebrated amnesiac, Mahboob Hussain) and whilst acknowledging that the land would be worth considerably more to the taxpayer if sold for housing it was felt that a cheap deal with the Mosque would be preferable! A strange approach, you might think for an allegedly cash-strapped Council cutting services and staff.

Needless to say Labour did not bother to consult with the residents of Earl Street who would be very adversely affected by the proposal.

Fortunately, The Skidder, was able to fire a salvo before Hussain's Committee (as was) met and the "deal" is allegedly on hold in that the Committee agreed to just licence the land to the Mosque at the present time pending developments with Shaftesbury House itself. Clearly it will be necessary to keep an eye of this to make sure an "odd" deal doesn't slip through "under the radar" at considerable cost to the taxpayer.

Nightmare for Earl Street.....
Of course, Sandwell Labour has a legal duty to secure the best value on the disposal of land but it seems that it needs to be reminded about that despite these austere times. Birmingham City Council auctions all its surplus property save in exceptional circumstances but Sandwell Labour seem to want to retain a "degree of control" over the sales process. They can't be seeking to "buy" influence and votes can they? It seems that the shifty "socialists" should also change their rules to provide that restrictive covenants are not lifted on properties without the matter being publicly aired by a "cabinet" committee. But that would mean they couldn't get away with doing secret deals and that would never do, would it?

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

E-mail:   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com                       Twitter:   @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737


Previous blogs on the Dartmouth Street Mosque:

29/08/14 - "Mosque Car Park - Another Labour Sale at an Undervaluation"

31/08/14 - "Mosque Car Parking Scandal - Chance for Labour Group to Reflect...."

03/09/14 - "Mosque Parking Scandal in Pictures! Spot the Oddity!"

09/09/14 - "Late Final - Cashmore and Mosque Parking Exclusives".

A Direct Appeal to Sandwell Council Employees

For many months now I have sweat blood trying to get at the cancer at the centre of SMBC - ably assisted by a small, but dedicated, band of assistants of all political persuasions and none.

You know what has been going on over the years and it is time for you to search your consciences and think very carefully about the wisdom of staying silent.

Of course, you are afraid for your jobs, families and livelihoods - particularly when Cooper is getting rid of so many of you. You may also have got to know people you suspect of wrong-doing and be loathe to expose them. But the Council will still need decent employees to operate in the future (especially in busy departments like planning) and long after the current politburo have gone.

You may be Labour yourself and not wish to harm the party but I am receiving call after call from Labour folk sickened with the way things are going on. Solid Labour people I talk to are distressed that certain activities of the current crop of politicians will do the local party serious harm in the long run and what to put a stop to it.

I have, however, to give you a serious warning. My informants tell me that you have received "whistleblowing" advice but if you are minded to speak out be very, very careful. My research and other information leads me to the conclusion that at least two senior council officers and one middle-ranking one are not behaving in the manner one would expect. They are NOT to be trusted. Be very careful who you speak to. I am advising the Police about my concerns.

Addendum - 17/10/14 - I am also informed the SMBC phones are being monitored.......

The police are now investigating various matters concerning SMBC and I have spoken to a high-ranking officer this morning about matters arising. I have to say that I am not wholly convinced as to the impartiality of Sandwell Police in any enquiry but there may be developments coming which may ease my worries. I do not encourage you to break the law in any way and, in all the circumstances, my firm advice is for you to report concerns direct to the Police rather than to officers who might not have your best interests at heart. If possible, make your disclosure direct to an officer and with a witness present. Make sure you keep a written note of the date and time of your complaint, the brief nature of it and the identity of the officer to whom it is made. If you are too frightened to do this send an anonymous letter to the investigating officers but keep a copy.

Whatever happens at the moment The Skidder team will be fighting on.....

Good luck and thanks for your time.

THE SANDWELL SKIDDER - A COMMUNITY BLOG - READ THE SKIDDER, KIDDER!

E-mail:   thesandwellskidder@gmail.com                        Twitter:  @bcrover (Vernon Grant)

Confidential phone no: 07599 983737

Sandwell's Parking Madness!

Sandwell Labour have been assiduous in sucking up to Sandwell Police at every opportunity. The moronic "leader" of the Council, Darren Cooper, is so confident of his political influence over them (particularly after he "helped-out" recently following the untimely death of Police & Crime Commissioner, Bob Jones) that he mocked any suggestion they might dare to investigate the affairs of Sandwell Council by putting a video of "The Laughing Policeman" on his crazed Twitter feed last week.

And the (too) cosy relationship is amply demonstrated in the Sandwell 2014/15 Crime and Policing Plan. Go to this link and take a look at the bottom of Page 1:

http://www.west-midlands.police.uk/docs/your-local-police/sandwell/lpp-2014-sandwell.pdf


Yes, Chief Superintendent Mark Robinson of Sandwell Police smiles out with his picture right next to that of Labour's amnesiac Deputy Leader, Mahboob Hussain - the man who "forgot" about his family's shareholding in a taxi firm that successfully applied for shares in two multi-million pound Council contracts and which has received just £100,000 from Labour to date.

Despite his chronic memory-loss Hussain is, however, apparently perfectly able to fulfil his duties as a "cabinet" member AND Deputy Leader for a major public authority. But he has had a bit of bad press lately and so I thought it might be nice to look at his more comedic activities!

Hussain lives in a large corner plot at a road junction in Oldbury near Sandwell & Dudley Railway Station. He has two entrances to the property which usually has an array of flash German-made cars present - 3 or 4 at a time on the drive. There is the odd VW but mostly it is Mercs, Audis and BMW's.

Clearly, Hussain would be grateful for additional parking space noting that, excluding children of course, there are nine adults listed as living in his house on the electoral register (though not all actually live there so it would seem.....). But, of course, he can have had no influence on Sandwell Council when it comes to painting double yellow lines outside his property. Oh no. As you will see from the following video the additional parking space almost right on the bend can only have arisen due to an error by the road painting team!!!!


I am also informed that Hussain has no influence whatsover in respect of the rescinding of parking tickets by Sandwell Labour in the Oldbury area. Which is good.

And finally, let us have a look at the classic incident when practical joker Kev Beresford (of cult "Roundabouts of Redditch" infamy) hoaxed Hussain and Sandwell Council by lauding the beauty of, er, Birchley Island! Hussain usually likes to keep his dealings secret but could not resist some publicity and appeared outside The Kremlin to accept a calendar from prankster Kev in a classic sting! The comrades were in denial about this for some time but the item has now - sadly - disappeared from SMBC's website. Unfortunately, The Halesowen News (which has been doing a really good scrutiny job on Sandwell Labour lately) also fell for the merry jape too and that is still on the net:

http://www.halesowennews.co.uk/news/11052338.Oldbury_roundabout_puts_Halesowen_s_to_shame/

You can also read the full sorry saga via my blog of 4th March, 2014, "Hussain Hoaxed! Red Faces at the Kremlin".

But perhaps Hussain was playing along for the laugh all the time rather than just showing himself up as a vainglorious prat..... He looks that kinda guy!

However, following on from this incident I can assure you that there is no truth in the rumour that this will be his campaign "anthem" when he next offers himself to the good folk of Oldbury for re-election:


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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hussain's Register - What Did Sharma Know?

We all now know that Labour's Deputy Leader, Mahboob Hussain, failed to declare his, his wife's and his family's shareholding in Five Star taxis even when that Company was "tendering" for shares of multi-million pound Council contracts.

The £164,159per annum Chief Executive of Sandwell Council, Jan Britton, has taken it upon himself as an officer of the Council to excuse Hussain's illegality (why?) and, apparently choosing to act as Hussain's spokesperson, has claimed that this was all some sort of a "mistake" and that the form was somehow difficult to fill in (total b*llocks). Of course, Britton is supposed to be in a politically-restricted post.....

Now Sandwell Council has an employee specifically given a statutory role (ie a defined legal position) as "Monitoring Officer" - £128,138 per annum Head of Legal, Neeraj Sharma. (When you have some time you might like to read my blog of 29th June, 2014, "Lessons from History?.....) One of Ms Sharma's legal duties is the keeping of the Register of Members' Interests.

Hussain, Sandwell's most-celebrated amnesiac, says he had forgotten about his Register entry when Five Star were bidding for the contract at the end of 2013 and so I am indebted to a third party for sending me this:

E-Mail to Neeraj Sharma specifically as Monitoring Officer - 12th NOVEMBER, 2013 (NB date)

"Register of Members' Interests - Councillor Mahboob Hussain

In his Declaration of 5th March, 2013, Councillor Hussain refers to unspecified interests in "Five Star Taxis, Portersfield, Dudley DY2 7AT". For the avoidance of any doubt, can you please clarify whether he is actually referring to "Five Star Taxis and Minibuses Limited" Company Number 06557553 of the same address."

Remember, this is while the taxi contract is up for grabs. Ms Sharma replied by e-mail on 23rd NOVEMBER, 2013:

"I have now had the opportunity to discuss your query with Councillor Hussain and I am able to confirm that the declared interest does relate to the company number you mention."

It is noteworthy that no attempt was made to correct the register at this stage nor to declare any interest in the contract tendering.

We must now ask why Hussain - even when reminded of his Register entry at this crucial time - saw fit not to amend his legal declaration and we must also ask what was actually discussed and how much Sharma knew at this point in time (during contractual tendering) about the Hussain family shareholding - particularly as Hussain has made the sweeping (and very alarming) statement that "everyone" at SMBC knew about it (including, one assumes, officers AND leading councillors).Unfortunately, the public who DO have a legal right to know these things were NOT told!

Of course, Labour's Hussain went on to make a false declaration when he changed his Register entry on 11th September, 2014. This is a criminal offence under Part 1 Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011 and regulations made thereunder - The Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 which came into force on 1st July, 2012.

(By the way, Sandwell Council's pet arse-lickers, The Express and Star, tried to claim yesterday that the second taxi contract bid for was for a share of a £3.5m contract but this is wrong. It is for a three-year contract at £3.5m PER ANNUM ie £10.5m. They also neglected to mention that Sandwell Labour have already paid Five Star some £100,000! You can't trust the Star!)

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Saturday, 11 October 2014

Mahboob Hussain - Audit or Cover-Up?

A small earthquake in Oldbury yesterday as the Labour Council's organ grinder, Mahboob Hussain, temporarily (?) stood down from the Asset Management & Land Disposal Committee (AMLD) pending an unspecified "audit" of the Coroner's Office sale. Meanwhile the monkey was trolling people on twitter......

This has all the hallmarks of a classic whitewash which must not be allowed to happen for the reasons below. Before that, there is some question of what form the alleged "audit" is going to take. Some press reports say it is merely an "internal audit" whereas the feeble "leader", Cooper, tweeted a Labour Party member to say that KPMG are involved. Neither option is acceptable. It is precisely because of the lack of probity and any semblance of good business practice under Chief Executive, Jan Britton (£164,159.per annum) that this situation (and others) has arisen. As far as the land sales are concerned this has always been delegated to £128,138 Head of Legal, Neeraj Sharma and £108,614 per annum Area Director, Nick Bubalo. There cannot be any public confidence in an "audit" that involves any of these individuals.

Another worry is that I am informed that some of Hussain's relatives work within SMBC. Please note that I most definitely do NOT allege any impropriety by those individuals here but, clearly, they must be "isolated" from the "audit" simply as a matter of good practice.

Of course, Hussain's son, Azeem Hafeez, who bought Lodge Street/Stone Street and the Coroner's Office from Labour himself worked for Sandwell Council in a role they have chosen not to disclose to me.

It is also not acceptable for KPMG to be involved here either as they have just earned a substantial fee for auditing the annual accounts and giving the Council a clean bill of health. I don't know about you, but I have no confidence in asking auditors to investigate and report that they themselves have failed to spot wrongdoing. Thus whilst the "audit" does require some accountancy expertise this must be from an independent firm.

In any event, there needs to be input from property experts here. Whilst all the media are concentrating on the sale of the Coroner's office, the Lodge Street/Stone Street sale is a much bigger kettle of fish. Sharma/Bubalo sold this plot for a miniscule £145,000 with no Community Infrastructure Levy and Hussain's son rapidly obtained planning permission from Labour for 14 houses. Building has actually started with a total guide price of £2.78m and unless Hafeez cocks it up royal it is difficult to see him walking away from this with less than £1m (yes, one million pounds). There are other property issues too (see below).

Various matters dealt with here have been referred to West Midlands Police and whilst they have apparently done sod all to date they should not be allowed to excuse further inactivity on the basis that they will await the outcome of the "audit".

The laughable Cooper keeps claiming that he will always root out wrongdoing and Hussain himself has told the media he wants the audit to show that he has fully complied with all rules and procedures (a bit difficult when he has just publicly apologised for failing to disclose his and his family's interests in the Five Star Taxi contract!!!!). If they are genuine (cough) in this the remit of the audit must, alas, become very wide and, at the very least, examine ALL property transactions since Hussain has been Chair of the AMLD plus other matters as set out below. Here are some initial steps that require IMMEDIATE attention:

1. Independent accountants and property experts must be appointed to work together on this investigation (I will use "the auditors" as shorthand for this combo). Contact details should be made available so that members of the public can make representations to the auditors within a set time framework - confidentially if necessary. Similarly, there must be a method set up for SMBC staff to confidentially disclose information to them.

2. Hussain should provide the auditors with a detailed family tree as, of course, some of the deals in question are in the name of family members eg Azeem Hafeez. Incidentally, I personally asked Hussain to disclose some family details to me and he declined to do so;

3. As stated in this blog ad nauseum the crafty comrades are redacting (ie hiding) huge swathes of information which should be in the public domain and for no good reason. Firstly, they mark Council agenda items as "private" and then what scraps are made public have key information blanked out - see, for classic examples in earlier blogs, the blanking out of Bubalo's "estimate" for the value of the Coroner's office and the complete blanking out of the address of the property in Florence Road being sold to Councillor Rouf's son. Secondly, it is right and proper that when, for example, two parties are bidding for Council contracts that confidentiality is maintained (though whether it actually is in Sandwell is another story). But what Labour regularly do is simply vote to override their own procurement and tendering rules to gift the contract to a specially favoured party. They then say that they cannot release details due to commercial confidentiality when what they really mean is that they simply want to keep the deal secret. The classic examples here are the multi-million pound Interserve contract to destroy The Public and the seemingly ongoing bent Ice Rink deal.

Accordingly, at the very least all the agendas and minutes of, at least, the AMLD committee for the whole period when Hussain has been Chair must be released in unredacted form.

4. The Council's cavalier approach to answering Freedom of Information (FoI) requests must be addressed immediately. The moronic Cooper has regularly pilloried me for putting in such requests and I was publicly vilified for the same reason on live local radio by Labour Councillor and Cabinet Member Ian Jones (this being the same programme where he mysteriously lied to the BBC and public about the bog-gate valuation!) In effect SMBC have 28 days to respond to such request but regularly miss this time limit and then fail to answer the request adequately. In the bog-gate request two SMBC employees, Willetts and Wendling, specifically provided me with false and inaccurate information and the auditors certainly need to look into that as this serious matter appears to have been totally ignored by Jan Britton and other "management". At the moment I have specific FoI requests in respect of the sale of the Coroner's office and the sale of Lodge Street/ Stone Street and nothwithstanding the statutory framework it is clearly in the public interest that the replies are expedited and made available as soon as practicably possible.

More generally, if Labour are open in their dealings and stop hiding agenda items and meetings then the only ones who will be affected are those involved in bent deals like the Ice Rink. There will be much, much less need for FoI requests and the associated costs.

5. My personal view, of course, is that Hussain should resign his Council seat (on the failure to disclose his and his family's significant interest in the Five Star contract alone). If he refuses, the Labour whip should be withdrawn but as he is a big pal of the joke "leader" this is unlikely to happen. Of course, he is hanging on to his Cabinet position and Labour will allow this. However, what is absolutely clear is that if Labour is too weak to act even they must realise that it would be unconscionable for him to take part in Cabinet or full Council discussions relating to matters decided by the AMLD Committee. Surely even Jan Britton can see that too!!!

Let us just fantasise for one moment that the sleazy socialists will do any of the above (although they might run into choppy legal waters if they do not). The auditors must look way beyond the sale of the Coroner's office:

1. Clearly the Lodge Street/Stone Street sale by Sharma/Bubalo for just £145k is "the big one";

2. There must be a full examination of the tendering process for the Five Star Contracts. The Company which is 50% owned by Hussain and his wife has already had over £100,000 of our taxpayer money and if not stopped WILL continue to receive taxpayers's' money to February, 2017. It would be strange indeed to find, for example, that the Five Star bid came in just below that of a competitor by a very small amount - say £1. In any event - Hussain has now been forced to publicly admit that he didn't register his interests. Accordingly, contract work and further payments to Five Star should be suspended pending the outcome of the "audit".

It might also be interesting to see whether any SMBC contract work was awarded to a taxi firm which then sub-contracted it to a firm connected to the Hussain family.

Incidentally, Labour are very anxious to pretend that most of their contracts go to local firms and in the case of the taxi contract were again quite happy to lie about this in the official Council minutes. Thus the list of firms given the contract was published - including Five Star - together with the lie "All are Sandwell Firms". Five Star has its registered office in Dudley where it is also based - by the bus station.

3. Hussain's family tree should be checked against lists of Council houses sold by Labour and also against housing grants. Some may be perfectly legit but here is an interesting one to start with:




4. I am told Cllr Rouf is a relative of Hussain. Clearly the auditors need to look at the sale of the building plot at Florence Road (Poplar Grove) Smethwick which Hussain's AMLD resolved to sell and which was then, happily, sold to Cllr Rouf's son who is building a 7-bedroom mansion there (see earlier blog). There is a linked question on who paid for the removal of the electrical sub-station on the site.

Incidentally, the local residents, particularly at Lime Grove are not enamoured with this huge property plonked on their doorstep and also say that there is encroachment on the rights of way on either side of the property. SMBC have not actually completed the transfer to Rouf's son (pending the completion of the mansion) and, no doubt, will wish to ensure that the final legal documents makes the extent of the boundaries crystal clear!

5. Bog-gate!!!! A timely reminder here that a simple phone call saying why The Skidder team should investigate something has taken us a long way. Whilst I am still awaiting for some formal information I have been inundated with calls from good folk in the Muslim community about a Hussain connection. In a Skidder exclusive I am prepared to say that Quyam, who bought the bogs from Sandwell Labour, at a knockdown price IS related to Nigat Loreen. Who she? She is the wife of Naveed Hussain, er, son of Mahboob Hussain. Whilst I believe Nigat and Naveed live at a different address in Oldbury they are both registered on the electoral register at 51 McKean Road, home of, er, Labour Councillor, Mahboob Hussain.

6. Although Hussain - Sandwell's most celebrated amnesiac - couldn't remember his and his wife's 50% shareholding when bidding for multi-million pound taxi contracts he has always been assiduous in declaring an interest in 73 Fountain Lane but as "trustee for his father" Mohammed Shafait. Curiously, Mr Shafait appears on the electoral register at Mahboob's own address - 51 McKean Road.

Opposite 73 is a large patch of derelict land which is an eyesore and a drag on property values in Fountain Lane. Hussain has been a very vocal advocate for the proposed development of the site called "The Junction" which would enhance local property values but he has never declared his interest in No 73 at any Council meetings which discussed the project. Perhaps he thinks a "trusteeship" doesn't count which is strange since the property was conveyed by his father to him and his wife as long ago as 22nd March, 1989! They are the legal owners at HM Land Registry.

The address at 73 has been used in connection with various companies related to the Hussain family at Companies House.

7. And this is a another big one - the bent Ice Rink deal (#icestink on twitter). The idiotic Cooper is also heavily involved in this scandal. See earlier blogs for more details but, in short, Labour are obsessed with having an ice rink in West Bromwich. It seems that they themselves reviewed various sites across Sandwell at taxpayers' expense and then - without any tendering or other competition - offered a huge site to a single private company. The plan is to use our taxpayers' money to knock down the Queen's Square car park so the ice rink company can have a nice clear site. Council officials appraised the project and gave it a very low "score" but the Labour comrades were not to be deterred and the matter came before Hussain's AMLD committee. The plan was to GIVE (yes - GIVE) the huge site next to a major brand new shopping centre to the private ice rink company on a free, "peppercorn", lease but Hussain's committee inexplicably decided in a matter of minutes that they would knock down the car park and sell it to the private company on the usual basis ie via Sharma/Bubalo at a price to be agreed and without it being marketed to anyone else. Of course, this is all secret and given Hussain's involvement there must now be full disclosure. There is no commercial confidentiality since the shifty "socialists" have deliberately excluded the rest of the world from their grubby deal.

There are bizarre rumours that Labour are making secret "grants" in respect of this project.That must be untrue but this "deal" is wholly irrational and requires urgent external investigation.

8. The car park for the Dartmouth Street Mosque (ongoing.....)

Whatever cover-up Cooper and his cronies are planning The Skidder team will battle on! All information gratefully received!

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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Bog-gate - The Stench is Getting Worse and Worse.....

Back in 2004 two gentlemen purchased a large factory unit in Wellesley Road, Oldbury. The rest of the street consists of two-storey terraced houses. The purchasers lost no time in putting in an application for outline planning permission to demolish the factory unit and build 12 two-storey houses (DC/04/43383). The applicant was stated to be "A & Q Homes".

The policy at the time meant that the industrial use of these premises should have been safeguarded. The initial report to the planning committee was against the application but after some ups and downs the comrades granted the application on 7th March, 2007.

But our friends got greedy. Within five days they had put in a new application using the name "Q & A Builders" - this time to demolish and then build two apartment blocks containing 35 small flats (DC/07/47613). Unfortunately things went wrong not least because an outside agency, The Health and Safety Executive , objected and the application was refused.

I am told that the factory units then "went on fire" as they say in Glasgow. (There is a curious tale about that which, alas, will have to wait for another day....)

What, you might say, has all this to do with the bogs? Permit me to re-cap:

1. Three disused toilet blocks sat empty and unmarketed. Mr Abdul Naeem Quyam (also "Abdul Quyam") mysteriously made an offer. Labour Sandwell did not seek to auction the blocks or take alternative offers. They sold them for £35,000 to Quyam.

2. Two officers of Sandwell Council - Willetts and Wendling - provided me with incorrect information concerning this sale pursuant to a formal Freedom of Information request.

3. Labour paid £1,200 for an independent valuation report which valued the bogs at £130,000. Labour Cabinet Member Ian Jones lied about this report live on the Adrian Goldberg Show on BBC WM.

Now this all stinks and I have been trying to see if there is any connection between Mr Quyam and Sandwell Council.

I believe that there is a family link between Qayum and a Labour Councillor but am unable to confirm that. I have certain enquiries in hand but still seek your help. I believe Abdul Naeem Quyam was born on 16th August, 1979 in Rotherham and that he has at least one other brother, Abdul Amean born in Sheffield on 26th October, 1997. I am very anxious to establish that they also have a sister, Nigat Loreen, born Rotherham in early, 1982......

There are some curious "coincidences" that have arisen here too. Quyam marketed at least two of the bog blocks via "Futures Estates". Quyam runs a company called "Futures Eco-Systems Limited". Amean runs a company called F.P.M. (UK) Limited believed to trade as "Futures Property Management". Entirely coincidentally, Cllr Mahboob Hussain's son has just bought the old Coroner's Office in Smethwick from Sandwell Labour and registered it at the Land Registry as "Futures House" (see blogs passim).

And here is a new one. Quyam sought planning permission in respect of one of the sets of bogs and used an agent, Anthony "Barrie" Hope. Again, entirely coincidentally, Mr Hope is also the agent on at least four planning applications for Cllr Mahboob Hussain's son. Now I will give you one guess who was the agent in respect of both planning applications relating to the factory unit...... Yes, you've got it in one!

Now I have never been able to make any link between Abdul Naeem Quyam and another gentleman with a similar name, Abdul Quyyam who was born on 7th January, 1962 and who lives at xx North Street, Dudley. I still cannot say what, if any, family relationship there is between them. But this is the name of the registered owners of the Wellesley Road factory unit at HM Land Registry:

Registered Owners: Abdul Quyam and Abdul Quyyam of xx North Street, Dudley, West Midlands, DY2 7DU.

They paid £365,000 for the unit.

Now it is just possible that "Abdul Quyam" is a different person to Abdul Quyam of Bog-gate infamy and I will be happy to set the record straight if there is a discrepancy. If he is one and the same person then this is odd as he uses two address in Warley Road, Oldbury (see my blog of 15/09/14 about that tangled web). One of the properties, number 42, is a Sandwell Council house. I am assuming that he is not the tenant since I would have thought having a half-share in a £365,000 property might just make him ineligible for council housing.....

And what of Mr Abdul Quyyam of Dudley? Together with his wife, Kaneez Begum, and another relative (probably a son who is also listed as living at xx North Street) Amar Quyyam, this family group own 50% of the shares in Five Star Taxi and Minibuses Limited. The other 50% is, of course, owned by Labour Cllr Mahboob Hussain and his wife.

Coincidences eh?

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Second Sandwell Land Sale Scandal - It's Worse than First Thought!

The scandal surrounding the sale by Sandwell Labour of the old Coroner's office in Smethwick to the Deputy Leader's son is worse than stated in my first blog on this subject ( "Another Labour Land Sale to Mahboob Hussain's Son!" 07/10/14).

Whole Plot as Sold by the "Socialists" for just £80,000
You will recall that Labour Deputy Leader Mahboob Hussain and fellow Cabinet member, Simon "Two Houses" Hackett, resolved to sell this property at a Committee Meeting with the sale to be sorted out by £128,138 Head of Legal, Neeraj Sharma, and £108,614, Area Director Nick Bubalo. No doubt highly competent employees to command such salaries in these austere times.

Up pops Azeem Hafeez - son of Labour's Mahboob Hussain - and makes an offer. Presumably this must have been made VERY shortly before the actual transfer of the land to him since Cllr Hussain never declared an interest in this subject when it came before the full "cabinet" and the full Council.

And so the sleazy socialists flogged the building AND A LARGE PLOT OF LAND TO THE REAR to Cllr Hussain's son for just £80,000. Incidentally, they sold the separate adjoining plot to someone else (also named Hussain but seemingly unrelated) for, er, £160,000.

Clearly Cllr Hussain's son had thoughts of "doing a deal" since he immediately divided the titles to the plot when he registered his purchase with HM Land Registry and in a rather curious way as you will see here from the registered plans under two separate titles and where you will note that one small "square" of land is isolated from the main plot:

For first Land Registration Hussain's son omits middle area


Central area registered under a separate legal title

In my earlier blog I mentioned that, almost immediately, Cllr Hussain's son tried to auction the property with a guide price of £120,000 but it now seems that this was only for the corner plot with the building on it and did not include the significant patch of land to the rear. He then withdrew the lot from auction and marketed the whole site via estate agents, Bairstow Eves of Oldbury for a much more substantial, er, "Offers in excess of £200,000"!

I am informed by a local journalist that the property is now sold "subject to contract" but I am not sure whether that includes the whole plot area.

Yesterday, the assembled comrades in Labour's cabinet publicly shed crocodile tears over the swingeing cuts they resolved to make to Sandwell's much-needed Children's Centres blaming it all on the Tories/Coalition for "the cuts". But yet again, this apparent massive failure to comply with their legal duty to obtain the best possible price on the sale of our public assets (or something far worse) has sold the people of Sandwell and the taxpayer at large short. Once again I call upon the police and SMBC's Chief Executive, Jan Britton, to begin immediate investigations. And the auditors, KPMG, for that matter.

Happily for the people of Sandwell and the taxpayer generally the beneficiaries of Labour's largesse are at least local folk ie, once again, members of the Hussain family who will no doubt soon be able to add to the fleet of Mercs, Audis, BMW's and other vehicles that are so much in evidence at 51 McKean Road and other Oldbury properties in which they have interests.

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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Another Labour Land Sale to Mahboob Hussain's Son!

Following on from my recent post describing how Sandwell Labour have sold 14 building plots to Deputy Leader Mahboob Hussain's son for just £10,357 each, an informant contacted me about the old Coroner's Office on Crockett Lane, Smethwick. I imagine you can guess what is coming next......

Dead Give Away?
Once again, the sleazy "socialists" have hidden most of the details via the usual veil of secrecy. A "report" concerning the proposed sale was prepared for the Asset Management and Land Disposal Committee (AMLD) meeting on 19th December, 2012. As ever with the crafty comrades the agenda kept most of the information secret with two items relating to the proposed sale marked as "private" and one item allegedly "public" - but with the crucial detail also redacted (ie hidden) - see below.

The so-called "public" item was prepared by four Sandwell Council officers and old friends - Neeraj Sharma (now on £128,138 per annum); Stuart Kellas (£132,512 per annum); Melanie Dudley (£120,092 per annum) and, importantly here, the "Area Director - Regeneration and Economy" Nick Bubalo (who has to scrape by on just £108,614 per annum).

You will have noted from my previous blogs that Labour in Sandwell seem to have difficulty when it comes to obtaining property valuations for land sales but it appears they got round that "problem" here by the simple expedient of doing without one and allowing Nick Bubalo to simply "estimate" the value. Thus we get this in the allegedly public part of the report:

"The Director - Regeneration and Economy estimates the freehold value of the property to be (net of sale costs) xxxxxxx."

And so here we go again. The vital information is kept secret. There is no indication whatsoever of how Sharma, Kellas, Dudley and Bubalo came to this concealed figure. There is no evidence in the public domain that this evidence was independently verified in any way. Remember, there is a statutory (ie LEGAL) obligation on the Council to secure "best value" when selling public assets.

Once again it is a recurring theme in this blog that such is the iron grip of Labour in the People's Republic of Sandwell all matters are agreed secretly before meetings which then last just a matter of minutes. There was a heavy agenda on 19th December, 2012 but only two Committee members bothered to turn up - "powerful" Chair Mahboob Hussain and "Cabinet" Member Simon "Two-Houses" Hackett. Happily they were able to deal with the whole agenda in seven minutes flat!

As with the Lodge Street/Stone Street scandal, Sharma and Bubalo were then given the job of sorting out the sale "for the best price":

Resolved:- 

(1) that the Coroners office building at Crocketts Lane, 
Smethwick be declared surplus to Council requirements;
(2) that, subject to the resolution (1) above, the Director - 
Legal and Governance be authorised to dispose of the 
freehold interest in the property for the best price by the 
most suitable method of disposal and otherwise on 
terms and conditions to be agreed by the Area Director - 
Regeneration and Economy; 

(3) that the Director - Legal and Governance Services be 
authorised to enter into or execute under seal, if 
necessary, any other related documentation in 
connection with the disposal of the land referred to in 
resolution (2) above on terms to be agreed by the Area 
Director - Regeneration and Economy.

Hussain himself duly announced to Sandwell Labour's own version of Pravda - the arse-lickers at The Express and Star: "The Coroner's Office will now be sold and marketed to be sold off."

Fortunately, this all concluded with Labour selling the freehold to, er, Azeem Hafeez, one of Cllr Hussain's sons, for £80,000. No mortgage was required. Sharma's department transferred the land to him on 10th May, 2013. Interestingly, he has registered the property at HM Land Registry as "Futures House" and regular readers will note how the word "Futures" cropped up frequently in "Bog-gate".

Incidentally, I have it on good authority that there was at least one other very serious contender for this property and I hope they will contact me in due course (contact details below).

Hafeez rapidly put the property into an auction due to take place in December, 2013 with a guide price of, er, £120,000 but, for reasons unknown, withdrew it before the sale (see link below*). The building is in use and perhaps it is the new hub for his burgeoning property empire whose growth is being so ably assisted by Sandwell Labour.

I have put in a Freedom of Information Act request about all this which is set out in full below the subscription.

Yes with the Sandwell Labour Five Star taxi monies rolling in, "Oldbury Green" [sic] being built and now this, happy days are indeed here again for the Hussain family - all in the "open market", of course!

* http://www.cpbigwood.com/property/auction/details/id/6225/search/1


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Freedom of Information Request:

Sent: 05/10/2014 13:36:52

Subject: Freedom of Information Act Request - Sale of Old Coroner's Office

On 19th December, 2012 three agenda items were listed at item 9 of the
Asset management and Land Disposal Committee relating to the proposed sale
of the old Coroner's Office at Crocketts Lane, Smethwick. The Committee
then resolved to sell that property and on 10th May, 2013 transferred it to
the Committee Chair's son, Azeem Hafeez, for £80,000. It may or may not be
the case that Hafeez was also an employee of SMBC at all material times.

Please state:

1. Was Azeem Hafeez employed by SMBC as at 19th December, 2012;

2. Was Azeem Hafeez employed by SMBC as at 10th May, 2013;

3. Two agenda items on 19/12/12 were redacted - 9 and 9a. Please disclose
unredacted versions;

4. The other agenda item 9 in respect of this matter stated at paragraph
3.1 "The Director - Regeneration and Economy estimates the freehold value
of the property to be (net of sale costs) xxxxxxx." :

(a) state the amount of the redacted estimate;
(b) disclose the data, statistics and other documentation upon which the
estimate was made;

5. Notwithstanding the "estimate" referred to at (4) above state whether
any other sort of valuation of the property was done before or after the
sale. If so, disclose the valuation(s), the date(s) of same and the actual
report(s). If fees were paid for any report(s) please state the amount(s)
broken down to fees, disbursements and VAT;

6. Please state in detail the marketing campaign for this property;

7. Please state the name of the Council Officer who ultimately agreed the
£80,000 sale price.

End.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Who's Gonna Be A (Sandwell) Millionaire?

Is living under the M5 motorway flyover in Oldbury your cup of tea? It seems not for £128,138 per annum Head of Sandwell Council Legal, Neeraj Sharma, and £108,614 per annum Director of Regeneration and Economy, Nick Bubalo. Maybe on pay packages like that they have gone a bit "John Lewis". How else can one explain the fact that they were "tasked" (sorry) with selling a large, clear and uncontaminated building plot in Oldbury and achieved just £145,000 for the hard-pressed taxpayer?



Regular readers will, however, have already read my previous post, "Hurrah - A Sale on the Open Market (To Hussain's Son)! but for new readers a short introduction. On 22/11/11 senior Labour "councillors" and "cabinet" members HUSSAIN, Eling, Hackett and Ian Jones resolved to flog off a nice clear building plot on the corner of Lodge Street and Stone Street, Oldbury. As above, Sharma and Bubalo accepted a price of just £145,000 and sold the plot on behalf of Sandwell Labour to, er, Councillor Hussain's son, Azeem Hafeez. (Hafeez may or may not have actually also been an employee of Sandwell at this stage - he has "worked" for them in the past).

Even before the transfer was finalised on 2nd January, 2014 a planning application went in to Labour Sandwell on 30th December, 2013. Greed was of the essence. Our old friend Anthony "Barrie" Hope of Bog-gate infamy was Hafeez's agent in the planning application. As with the bogs, Hope was able to make a statutory declaration on 30/12/13 that Hafeez had been the only owner of the property for 21 days before the application whereas the conveyancing transfer wasn't actually made until two days later.....

The application DC/13/56684 was for FOURTEEN three/four bedroom houses (even though the sleazy "socialists" had indicated that the site should be considered for bungalows for the aged) and, surprise, surprise sailed through Labour's planning committee with Nick Bubalo signing the permission on 29th July, 2014.

On your behalf I braved the elements this morning and noted that building has actually started. Despite the planning permission a five-bedroom house is also offered.


Now the £145,000 agreed by Sharma and Bubalo for a clear site amounted to a pathetic £10,357 per plot. Of course Hafeez has had to struggle ( ha, ha) with Sandwell Labour to get planning permission. He has to pay for the houses to be built and market them. Below is the Zoopla link from Haart Estate agents for the site which has been laughably named as "Oldbury Green" and if you choose to look there are various "incentives" being offered to would-be purchasers. Having said that, these are the proposed sale prices:

5 x 3 bed semis @ £185,000 each = £925,000

5 x 4 bed semis @ £200,000 each = £1,000,000

3 x 4 bed detached @ £210,000 each = £630,000

1 x 5 bed detached @ £225,000 = £225,000

AND SO THE TOTAL IS A COOL £2,780,000!

http://www.zoopla.co.uk/new-homes/property/west-midlands/oldbury/

The planning application was stated to me a "major" one. Most councils seek what used to be called a s.106 payment for such developments which is now known as a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). This means that the property developer has to pay a "fee" towards improving local infrastructure when obtainning planning permission. Again, regular readers will know that this money has been treated as a "piggy bank" by Sandwell Labour to pay for pet projects - hence, for example, the laughable "leader" Cooper diverting £30,000 of public money to Jim Cadman's private statue "project". Happily, at the material time, Sandwell Labour paid large sums to consultants URS and Aspinall Verdi and then decided, led in this instance by Cllr Ian Jones, that the crafty comrades wouldn't apply the CIL to most residential developments in Sandwell! According to their planning website, therefore, Councillor Hussain's son has not only had the land for a song but has also paid, er, sod all by way of CIL.

There are only two conclusions that can be legitimately drawn here from the information publicly available. Either:

1. There has been significant fraud here; or

2. There has been gross negligence on behalf of Council Officers in respect of the sale price.

Once again there is a pressing case for West Midlands Police to start investigations.......

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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hussain - the Taxi-Scandal Timeline

First and foremost can I urge you to rush out today and buy Private Eye Magazine where Labour Sandwell and Mahboob Hussain appear in the "Rotten Boroughs" section (SMBC's second recent appearance)!

Sandwell Labour's Deputy "Leader" Mahboob Hussain has broken cover and given what purport to be explanations for his failure to mention his involvement with Five Star Taxis who have entered into very valuable contracts with the comrades and received a minimum of £99,000 to date. Even more worrying is that Sandwell's supposedly "independent" Chief Officer, Jan Britton (£164,000 per annum) has gone to the media to try and defend Hussain and his misdemeanors. Meanwhile the ludicrous "leader" Cooper has been putting "The Laughing Policeman" on Twitter mocking efforts to involve the local plod.

But Hussain didn't forget to complete a truthful Declaration of Interests just once - he "forgot" twice just as he "forgot" to specifically declare his and his family's interest in Five Star when they apparently "tendered" for two different contracts. Have a look at the timeline and see what you think:

2012 - Hussain completes his original Declaration of Interests. There is no contract at this point and he does not declare his shareholding nor that of his wife. But Five Star then enter into negotiations for a share in a lucrative contract apparently whilst Hussain is still Company Secretary and a shareholder and his wife remains a shareholder. On 31st August, 2012 Hussain resigns the Company Secretaryship and transfers his remaining shareholding to his daughter whilst his wife retains her 20% shareholding. In breach of the law he does NOT declare an interest in the contract nor amend the Register of Interests. The Police need to investigate this - pure and simple. The money then started rolling in from Labour from 1st October, 2012.

(I had assumed that Five Star had somehow got in on the existing three year taxi contract that was already running but it may be that they entered into a separate contract I have discovered which had number 2012/S 110-183191. I will be doing a Freedom of Information Act request about all the "deals").

2012/2013 Five Star did then bid for a share in the new £10.5m 3-year taxi contract (ie a second contract) and, once again, Hussain totally failed to declare his family's interest in Five Star nor did he amend his Register of Interests. The Police need to investigate this. Fortunately (!) Five Star were accepted and that contract started for three years starting 24th February, 2014. Jan Britton who has decided to act as Hussain's apologist says everything was all above board......

09/10/13 and 22/07/14 Unbelievably - this is good this bit - Hussain has told Private Eye Magazine that he gave the shares to his daughter Shasta Parveen as a "wedding gift" but on an unknown date between these two dates Hussain took the shares back into his own name! Some gift! I can only assume the marriage was not successful!

11/09/14 This is an absolutely key date. On top of the grave failures referred to above Hussain actually completed a new Declaration of Interests. Despite entering into two contracts and taking his 30% shareholding back into his own name he claims to the BBC that he "forgot" all this (and his wife's shareholding). Accordingly he made a false declaration just a couple of weeks ago. He would have been well aware that I first blogged about Five Star way back in May and also that I have been exposing the false declaration made by the Labour Liar, Cashmore, and also, possibly, by Labour's Tony Meehan. Once I exposed this false declaration and Private Eye Magazine contacted him, Hussain finally amended the Register.

Highly-paid Jan Britton has claimed the form is quite difficult to fill in. This is absolute bollocks. It is simplicity itself plus there is a "plain English" guide to assist thicker councillors to fill it in. The Monitoring Officer - £128,000 per annum Neeraj Sharma- is also there as a qualified lawyer to provide assistance. Clearly now it is admitted that "everyone at Labour Sandwell knew" about the non-disclosure it begs the question why Britton and Sharma failed to fulfil their own obligations to the Council and to the public. Clearly, the implication is also that all the political heirarchy knew about this but chose to ignore it and allow two valuable contracts to go to Five Star in any event. Why?

It will be interesting to see if all the taxi firms bidding for the contracts were aware of the Hussain family interest and, more particularly, its non-disclosure to the public.

Hussain was able to act as a Company Secretary (which involves, er, filling in forms) and has proved adept at shifting his personal shareholding around the family but now it is said he was too thick to complete a basic form and he can't remember his Company bidding for multi-million pound contracts or taking the shareholding off his daughter and back to himself. Regular readers will also recall that he "forgot" that he approached the College first in respect of the Public stitch-up so that Labour Sandwell lied about this in their Cabinet documents. No doubt a very able second-in-command indeed to the Clown Prince!

All this needs a thorough outside investigation particularly as Five Star (and, by definition, Hussain and his wife) are still set to receive huge sums of taxpayers' money until February, 2017. Let's see if Sandwell Police are "independent" or if they really are under Cooper's malign influence........

(Many thanks to Private Eye for the information about the wedding "gift").

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