Councillor Maz Hussain – the Councillor who leaves the taxpayer to pay his bill.
Wycombe Labour today exposed how Councillor Maz Hussain, Tory Councillor for Disraeli, authorised a payment of over £900 for a sign in Disraeli which does not comply with legislation. He allowed Transport for Bucks to believe payment would come from Wycombe District Council and, when he became liable for payment himself, failed to pay the bill.
Councillor Khalil Ahmed, Labour Councillor for Disraeli said,
“We now know how the Tories conduct business in order to influence voters.
They tell falsehoods. They put pressure on officials. They don’t consult. They ignore officials’ advice and approve items which don’t comply with the law. They ignore officials’ advice and set precedents.
The precedent is now set. BCC approved a sign for Disraeli at the request of Councillor Hussain who they now regard as a private customer. I assume BCC is now prepared to put signs up for private customers in other wards in the town, as long as the private customers say they will pay.
Councillor Maz Hussain should have paid the bill 3 weeks ago. He now has to pay the consequences – literally – of the Tory falsehoods.
We have already called for the resignation of Cllr Hussain. Before he goes he should reimburse the taxpayer by paying his bill of £932.52.
Wycombe Labour put out a press release on 13 July accusing Councillor Hussain of colluding in falsehoods in order to influence voters in a marginal ward. One of those falsehoods was to tell Transport for Bucks (TfB) that a sign in Disraeli, promised by the Tories, would be paid for by Councillor Hussain’s WDC ward budget.
This was not true. Councillor Hussain had not applied for any funding from his ward budget, despite the then Leader extending the deadline for months.
BCC has now provided documents as a result of a freedom of information request. We can now answer two remaining questions:-
1. Who approved the sign, which did not comply with traffic signs regulations, to be erected and why?
A “gate” style sign was approved by Councillor Vigor – Hedderley, BCC’s cabinet member for transport, on 13 February. She approved the sign (with the cost to WDC) despite repeated advice from TfB and Government officials not to do so as it did not comply with regulations and would set precedents for other requests from councillors in other wards.
There is no record of this approval. It was relayed to TfB officials by the Leader of WDC.
There is no record of any explanation given by Councillor Vigor-Hedderley for ignoring officials’ advice. One official refers to a related analysis of “social cohesion and integration” but there is no record of this analysis.
2. How much did the sign cost and who paid for it?
Councillor Hussain accepted a quote on 2 March for a sign costing £777.10 excluding VAT and excluding any charge for ongoing maintenance if the sign was damaged.
TfB had been told the sign would be paid for from Cllr Hussain’s ward budget. This budget was for £490 and could not therefore have covered the cost of the sign. Moreover, the deadline for applications for funding from the ward budget was 31 December 2014 and Cllr Hussain had made no application for funding.
When Wycombe Labour queried the payment for the sign, WDC officials told TfB officials that the invoice should be sent personally to Cllr Hussain.
An invoice for £932.52 was sent on 12 June for payment on 12 July. As yet, Wycombe Labour has received no confirmation or evidence that payment has been made despite repeated requests.
A senior manager in BCC said “This is an unacceptable mess.”