New Stoke-on-Trent mayor Majid Khan steps down
LORD Mayor-in-waiting Majid Khan last night gave up the right to take on the historic ceremonial post after it emerged he is facing a second investigation into his conduct as a councillor.
Ruling Labour councillors held a private meeting where they were briefed on the unprecedented move which means the current Deputy Lord Mayor won't become the city's first citizen.
Mr Khan was due to be sworn in as the city's 84th Lord Mayor at the council's annual meeting next week.
He will continue as a councillor but will not take on the ceremonial role as he concentrates on clearing his name.
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Mr Khan, who represents Etruria and Hanley, is understood to be facing allegations he helped a convicted criminal gain a taxi licence without disclosing to fellow councillors that he personally knew the applicant.
Last month he was hit with a formal warning for breaching the members' code of conduct by failing to declare that he knew a taxi firm owner before voting on his licence application.
The latest allegations will be subject to a public standards committee hearing on a date to be fixed.
But a number of councillors are understood to have been anxious at the prospect of Mr Khan bringing Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the office of Lord Mayor into disrepute.
Mr Khan, below, said: "I do not believe that I have breached any code of conduct.
"I fought long and hard to safeguard the Lord Mayor's office from recent cuts and would not want to bring the office into disrepute.
"I have therefore decided to withdraw my name to be Lord Mayor this year to focus on clearing my name."
Council leader Mohammed Pervez said: "If he is cleared, it is hoped he will become Lord Mayor in the future."
Deputy Leader Paul Shotton added: "He believes he is innocent but does not want to bring the office of Lord Mayor into disrepute while he has this complaint hanging over his head."
Terry Crowe, Labour councillor for Eaton Park, is now expected to become Lord Mayor with party colleague Sheila Pitt as deputy.
Mr Khan, a businessman and former restaurateur, received his formal censure last month for failing to disclose he knew Javid Ahktar before the committee refused his bid to use his car for executive hire.
Mr Ahktar, who owns City Centre Taxis, in Tunstall, claimed to have known Mr Khan for up to 20 years before they came face-to-face at a meeting of the licensing and registration panel.
Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition City Independents, said: "There was a risk of bringing not just the city council but the entire office of Lord Mayor into disrepute."
Councillors considered axing the Lord Mayor's ceremonial role to save £130,000 as part of £24 million budget cuts for 2012/13.
The plans were shelved after a cross-party outcry and complaints from the dozens of organisations and businesses who benefit from civic visits each year.
The Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent is one of only about 30 in the country.