Sandwell councillor 'sorry' for taxi contract declaration

Image source, Sandwell Council
Image caption,
Mahboob Hussain and his wife had a 50% share in the firm, according to Companies House documents

A Sandwell councillor said his failure to declare his stake in a taxi firm which won part of a multi-million-pound contract was "an oversight".

Mahboob Hussain said he "made a mistake on a form" when he claimed neither he nor his wife had a beneficial interest in any work for the local authority.

Mr Hussain stated he worked for Dudley-based Five Star Taxis and Minibuses, but not that he or his wife had shares.

Jan Britton, council chief executive, was satisfied with the explanation.

'Quite technical'

The company was one of 47 awarded a contract to provide passenger transport by Sandwell Council on 24 October 2013, worth a combined £3.5m a year until February 2017.

"I'm very sorry," said Mr Hussain, who has been on the council since 2004. "I have declared an interest for many years and a lot of people know I have a link to the taxi trade in Dudley."

Mr Britton said: "I accepted his explanation that he simply made a mistake filling out his form as he referred to the same company elsewhere [on the form].

"The form was only introduced in 2012 and the questions are quite technical.

"On the basis of my own investigations I can say he was not in a position to influence the outcome of the contract nor did he seek to."

A register of Mr Hussain's personal interests from 12 September, after the contract was awarded, answered "none" to the question of whether he or his partner had any beneficial interest in contracts with the authority.

An amended personal register of interests stating Mr Hussain was a shareholder was published on the council's website on 23 September when a blogger highlighted the details that were missed.

'No scrutiny'

Companies House documents say his wife Nasreen Begum was a 20% shareholder on 9 October 2013 before the contract was awarded, while Mr Hussain held no shares in the taxi firm then. He transferred 10% on 31 August 2012.

Latest documents however said Mr Hussain was a 30% shareholder in the company on 22 July, while Mrs Begum had a 20% share.

Former Langley independent socialist councillor Mick Davies, said: "It's not as if you can forget you have a taxi firm.

"There's obviously been no scrutiny here."

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