Warning for future city mayor Majid Khan over breach
DEPUTY Lord Mayor Majid Khan failed to reveal he personally knew a taxi firm boss before ruling on his licence application.
A standards committee issued a formal warning after the Labour city councillor, who is due to become Lord Mayor in May, breached the members' code of conduct by failing to declare an interest.
Councillors are required by law to declare an interest before meetings if their personal involvement with a business, person or topic of debate could influence decisions.
Javid Ahktar, owner of City Centre Taxis, in Tunstall, claimed to have known Mr Khan socially for up to 20 years before they came face-to-face at a meeting of the licensing and registration panel.
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He said Mr Khan also visited his taxi base, on High Street, "at least" five times to canvass for votes in the run-up to elections in May 2010 – although he pledged support for a rival.
Mr Ahktar, of Park Terrace, Tunstall, applied to be exempt from displaying private hire plates so he could use his own car for executive hire.
He failed to attend yesterday's meeting, but in a written statement he said he was "chuffed" to see Mr Khan on the licensing panel as he thought the application "would be agreed without any problem as they knew me".
The application was unanimously turned down at the meeting in November 2010, prompting Mr Ahktar to make a complaint and ring Mr Khan's mobile to berate him.
Mr Khan said visiting the taxi base in the run-up to the election, accompanied by councillor Bagh Ali, and sharing a drink with Mr Ahktar.
He said he wanted the support of Mr Ahktar, his family and some of his 100 drivers.
But he denied knowing the taxi boss for years, and said he did not know him well enough to declare an interest.
Clare Clarke, the council's deputy monitoring officer, said: "The question is would such a meeting, or meetings, come within the definition of a personal interest? My view is that it would.
"Councillor Khan had, on his own version of events, visited the taxi base owned by Mr Ahktar on three or four occasions.
"On one of these, he sat down and shared a drink with him.
"It is my view that a member of the public would consider that councillor Khan might be prepared to favour Mr Ahktar when dealing with a matter that affected him. The fact he did not support the application is irrelevant; the breach had already taken place."
Mr Khan told the committee: "My decision was based on the fact that the person was not more than an acquaintance to me or a family member.
"All I can say is sorry for making that wrong judgment based on the information that was given to me."
Mr Khan, who quit the panel after the complaint was made, won a seat in Tunstall, but stood successfully in Etruria and Hanley in 2011.
Joan Carr, the panel's independent chairman, told him: "The sanctions will be a formal censure, confirmed in writing, and you will participate in training with the monitoring officer and myself on registering an interest – with particular emphasis on public perception."