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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Allegations of corruption at Slough Borough council prompt calls for investigation, police confirm no active probe

No ‘active investigation’ into bribery allegations at Slough Borough Council, police say

Thames Valley Police is currently not investigating corruption at Slough Borough Council, the force has said.

The police were last week reported to be investigating allegations of bribery related to planning applications.

The council confirmed to the LDRS that it had received a complaint about money being solicited in return for planning permissions, and forwarded it to the police on 2 April.

Thames Valley Police has confirmed it is ‘aware of information to suggest financial impropriety.’ But it said there is currently ‘no active investigation’ as it had no evidence ‘at this time.’

A police spokesperson told the LDRS: “Thames Valley Police has been made aware of information to suggest financial impropriety at Slough Borough Council.

“No evidence has been identified to support this information at this time, and no active investigation is ongoing.”

The news comes after Slough MP said it was ‘critical’ that police investigate the allegations.

He told parliament last week: “As recently reported in the Standard, by the Slough Observer and other media outlets, serious bribery allegations against Slough Borough Councillors heading up the planning process, are extremely concerning.

“Not questioning under oath those credible businesses who have been brave enough to put their concerns in writing, as well as those accused of bribery, would be a huge disservice to democracy.”

Slough Borough Council confirmed last week that it had referred the information to the police – but said that it also could not investigate as no individual was named in the complaint.

The LDRS has asked the council to release the complaint under freedom of information laws, and is waiting for a response.

The complaint was passed to police just two weeks before councillor Iftakhar Ahmed resigned as chair of the council’s planning committee. He also resigned from the leading group of councillors – the cabinet – where he was responsible for planning.

Cllr Ahmed told the LDRS his resignation was not connected to the complaint received two weeks earlier.

Instead he said he resigned over disagreements with council leader Dexter Smith. In emails between the two seen by the LDRS, councillor Smith said he wanted to remove councillor Ahmed’s responsibility for planning so that he could ‘concentrate’ on sport and leisure.

Cllr Ahmed responded by telling councillor Smith: “I can no longer support your vision and agenda because the council has failed under your watch.”

Cllr Ahmed also told the LDRS he had not seen the complaint or been told of its contents ‘in detail.’ However he said the allegations were ‘baseless’ and ‘clearly a smear campaign and Labour propaganda’.

He said: “There is no connection; however, the perception that there might be a connection has been created by the leader due to his cabinet reshuffle, which tends to take place just before the AGM every year.”

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