Mayor of Leighton Buzzard responds to claims

Mayor of Leighton Buzzard, Cllr Syed Rahman
Mayor of Leighton Buzzard, Cllr Syed Rahman

The mayor of Leighton Buzzard has been forced to defend his position after questions arose over his businesses in the town.

Cllr Syed Rahman was re-elected as a town councillor in Grovebury ward in May 2015 and was elevated to town mayor earlier this year.

But questions of his business affairs in the run-up to the 2015 election have arisen on social media.

Cllr Rahman resides in Luton and his eligibility to stand as a Leighton Buzzard Town Councillor stemmed from owning the Akash restaurant in North Street.

That business, however, was already insolvent and later dissolved in July 2015 – two months after the election. A liquidator’s report estimated liabilities at £58,421.

A previous business on the site, Akash 2004 Ltd, had been dissolved in 2013 with liabilities anticipated at £167,025.

Cllr Rahman does still own the property at North Street.

Resident June Tobin said: “This man is representing the town and its businesses. Is it right he should be doing that with his history?”

In a statement the mayor said: “My eligibility to be nominated, in both 2011 and for re-election in 2015, was based upon my business being located within the town.

“My ownership and operation of the relevant business, in accordance with my nomination, is a matter of legal fact.

“I did place my business into voluntary liquidation during the recession.

“This was a step I was forced to take as a businessman as my business along with many others began to fail during the recession.

“My current declaration of interest shows, correctly, my continuing ownership of property within the town, my having sold the business lease for the restaurant after the 2015 election.

“Under the Electoral Rules, my status as a councillor remains valid for the rest of this term, until 2019.

“Having sought re-election I decided that I would continue to give my time serving the town which had supported me so well in my business. As a parish councillor, by definition there is no payment involved.”

Cllr Rahman was nominated as mayor last year.

He added: “I cannot emphasise enough the pride which I take in my role as Mayor and the pleasure that my meetings with so many diverse members of our community has given me, suffice to say that I also hope that I am being seen to be doing a good job.

“In closing, and to be fully transparent ... I do get a stipend as Mayor, to assist in carrying out the many expected attendances at other civic functions in and around Bedfordshire.”