Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Continuing Adventures of Councillor Hassan Ahmed

Councillor Hassan Ahmed does keep us busy here at NCCLols.

You will be aware of his difficulties in remembering who he worked for and which charities he was trustee of and the understanding and sympathetic attitude he received on this from Standards for England, something that shocked even the supremely supine Standards Committee at NCC.

Well, I've managed to get a bit more information about that in the form of the (heavily redacted) full report on the case against him from Standards for England. I am still trying to get as much of the redaction removed via the Information Commissioner but I'm not over hopeful. And it's more than I got from an identical request to NCC who refused to provide anything.

This document provides more insight into the thought processes behind SfE's decision making, I'll quote a few examples, see if you can spot a pattern emerging -

"...At the same meeting, the executive agreed to fund Nottingham Training and Enterprises Ltd [one of Ahmed's interests] for £50,000 per annum over three years. At the time of the council executive's decision, Councillor Ahmed was not a member of the executive. He did not attend the meeting or take part in the decision..." 

"...Forest Fields Advice and Neighbourhood Centre [another interest] received a grant of £3,092 during 2008-2009. The decision to approve funding to this organisation predated Councillor Ahmed's appointment as portfolio holder. I have seen no evidence that Councillor Ahmed was involved in the decision making process in relation to funding the Advice and Neighbourhood Centre..."

"...Nottingham Training and Enterprises Ltd and FEBA [both Ahmed Interests] also submitted bids to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Bids for ERDF monies were decided by the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA). The city council participates in a commissioning group, which assesses preliminary applications...At the time of Nottingham Training and Enterprises Ltd's ERDF bid in 2008, the group was chaired by Councillor Graham Chapman, the deputy leader of the council...

...FEBA was awarded two ERDF grants in July 2009 of £179,810 and £230,468...That decision predated Councillor Ahmed's appointment as portfolio holder..."

There seems to be quite a lot of reliance on the fact that Ahmed had not been appointed to the Executive at the time funding decisions were made. But he was Graham Chapman's Executive Assistant. Who jointly made the decision to cut CEHRNN's funding with him.

Then there's this -

"...I do not consider that Councillor Ahmed was required to declare an interest in Central Education and Training Ltd at the time he met with an officer from EMDA, as this was not a meeting of the council. At that time, no application had been made for ERDF funding..."

WTF? I can only assume that slipped through the redaction process because there's no mention of this meeting anywhere else. But essentially, SfE sees nothing dodgy in the fact that Ahmed was meeting EMDA officers when he was a director of two organisations that had not been declared on his register of interests, shortly before those organisations submitted funding bids to EMDA. Because it wasn't a City Council Meeting. Words fail me.

Anyway, it seems like Ahmed's forgetfulness in keeping his regulators up to date extends to Companies House and the Charity Commission. On 28 October this year he resigned as a director for 'Voice East Midlands' and yet the Commission don't seem to be aware as he is still listed as a trustee. Needless to say his NCC register of interests is yet to be updated. He also seems to have a habit of notifying Companies House about changes in his details with regard to one company but not with others; for example, in October 2008 he updates his address details for First Enterprise Business Agency, a local small business advice agency of which he is chair* but there is no corresponding notification for Nottingham Regeneration Ltd or Voice East Midlands. In April 2009 he does update address details for VEM but to a different address to the one notified earlier to FEBA. Again, no corresponding notification to FEBA nor to NRL, although he does deign to inform the latter that he is usually resident in the UK.

Let's hope that he advises FEBA's clients to act more appropriately.

*Or at least that's what he says in his annual report but I'm not sure what is real any more.

No comments: