wfcwComment
longtermstower
15 Feb 12 .
read ...

I've never commented on here before all the years of visiting this site, but feel I must give my view because Duke of Hazzard's comment made me spill my tea across my computer!

Since 1994 when Liaquat Ali became one of my Councillors, he has not once responded to any of my emails about local issues, he doesn't show up to his own ward surgeries and pretends not to have received the emails when you ask him about them.

He lied about closing the St James Street Library, blocked the process for us residents to get information about it's plans, misled campaigners trying to bid for the building to use as a resident-run community hub, while allegedly attempted to buy the property off the Council himself. Then only goes and appears in a photo months after the Mill's opening, claiming credit for supporting the resident-run initiative!

The man is too busy running his local property portfolio to deal with Council case work. Pockets of areas which he owns are gradually turning into slums, with multiple dwellings of anti-social tenants in homes that could do with some maintenance. Upon the last election win for the William Morris ward, his son Nadeem promptly gets made Vice-Chair on the Council's sub-committee responsible for Housing Scrutiny - Coincidence? How convenient to have someone in the family to prevent scrutiny of what he gets up to as a landlord in the borough. Meanwhile, the public purse pays the rent for various properties around the borough while Liaquat exploits sitting comfortably between being a private landlord and accepting public-funded rent. It is also known that the Councillor has converted a house into flats with no planning permission. Land Registry documents show that property to be under the ownership of the Ali family - again the Council failed to investigate. (or did he 'gain retrospective planning' - as you put it Duke of Hazzard?)

When James O'Rourke a former popular Councillor for the High St ward attacked the flouting of planning laws and failure to comply with planning regulation in 2006, a multi-agency operation which involved the council, police and social services was poised to tackle this issue within the borough, but this was cancelled at the last minute due to 'political concerns' eight weeks before the election. Internal murmurs suggested this would've been a political embarrassment had it gone ahead. In June last year, the council's new Property Accreditation Scheme came into force. A volunteer scheme for landlords to ensure they comply with their legal duties. Liaquat Ali was one of many councillor landlords identified by this very paper. Have any of his tenanted properties had a safety check or lick of paint since? Not any that I can tell. A long-standing hole in the roof of one was finally fixed when the pigeon nuisance came to the attention of Environmental Health Officers. Of course, the catch 22 with this scheme is that tenants have to feel empowered enough to call the Council up to report their own landlords.

Liaquat's declaration of interest form is still four years out of date - April 2008 -despite the recent calls this year for all Councillors to update their information. He has omitted the real number of properties which he & his family own within the borough, far more than the eight he has listed. Someone mentioned 60-90 a while ago, but who knows when there is a lack of transparency and accountability. In fairness, this wouldn't be an issue if the social tenant's homes were well maintained and those who lived in them were treated fairly and decently and the properties were safely converted. But we know this not to be the case. Two different residents have told me they've witnessed alleged bullying by Ali's family to tenants. It stands to reason they live in run-down properties, with possibly illegal conversions, while he enjoys a series of luxury cars Jag, Bentley and Range Rover, all parked round the back garden of the property this article refers to, exempting him from needing to pay for any CPZ permits.

As for his track record as a Councillor, we know there was a damning Ofsted report which stated that vulnerable children in Waltham Forest had been put at risk due to council failures - the man in charge at the time? Liaquat. The same man who was voted off the Stoneydown school board for poor attendance (while claiming expenses nonetheless for walking the 5 minutes it would have required of him to visit the school located a stone's throw from his home). We won't mention failing schools and 'special measures' circa 2009, when 3 other schools were placed under 'special measures' in addition to Newport in Leyton. Even the then Schools Secretary Ed Balls blamed Liaquat Ali for the fiasco surrounding school placement shortages a couple of years ago.

Shockingly between 2004-09 Liaquat's chronic failure to manage the childrens services properly meant he had to apologise when an abused girl who endured terrible suffering went unheard for many years. No one was held accountable for this tragic incident, least of all Mr Ali himself.

Then there is the dubious connection of Liaquat supporting and welcoming the ex-president of Pakistan in our borough. A dictator who suspended the rule of law during his time in power in Pakistan, personally named as a suspect in the assasination of Benazir Bhutto and actually with a warrant for his arrest in Pakistan. Why, we must ask, would Liaquat Ali see fit to welcome such a man to our borough, and indeed, entertain him using public funds? On the subject of Council operations, leaked documents in 2010 revealed investigators found ruling Councillors including Cabinet Member Liaquat Ali knowingly broke EU law regarding procurement processes for a multi-million pound contract. The independent Council fraud investigators were quoted at the time as saying "It is difficult to understand how (the council) expects to uphold the law when its own cabinet deliberately breaks it." While on the subject of breaking rules, let's not forget the small matter of the gifting of publicly owned land to the Muslim Burial Trust and the scandal around the missing funds relating to the Better Neighborhoods Initiative (BNI) whilst he was portfolio holder.

More recently, there has not been a peep from Liaquat over the years as we try to save the grade 2 listed EMD cinema. He has expressed no interest in trying to save the Leyton Marshes from being concreted over for a basketball court development either, even though these are both squarely in his own ward. Last October when our firefighters staged a strike over shift changes, our very own Liaquat who is a member of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority managed to duck out of any involvement or attend any negotiations. Yet he earned £7,750 that year for being a member of the Emergency planning authority doing nothing. We know he draws £32.6k pa from the Council (incl special responsibility allowance). Admittedly, everyone needs to earn a wage, but earning isn't the word I would use here.

Fjl above mentioned resignation. Unless I'm mistaken, calls for Liaquat's resignation have been raised as early as 2001, then latterly at 2004? But I can't locate this source right now. Can regular commentators shed light on this? What we do know however is that he has de-listed any Councillor who have openly criticised his leadership in the past.

I could go on, and I'm sorry that I already have. It's fair to say that Liaquat Ali has been many things: Mayor, Cabinet Member, responsible for Young Persons & Childrens Services, Responsible for Safety, Communities & Social Cohesion, Member of the LFEPA, as well as a Magistrate. But a local hero? Do me a favour.