New council leader dismisses concerns about his past and says focus is on a 'positive' future

Hannah Crouch

Hannah Crouch

New council leader dismisses concerns about his past and says focus is on a 'positive' future

The newly-elected leader of Slough Borough Council has said his past has ‘never been hidden’ as he looks ahead to paving a new era for the town.

In 2012, the Express reported how staff at one of Cllr Sohail Munawar’s off-licence shops in Essex were caught selling alcohol to minors in 2010.

The licence for the Costcutter store in Saffron Waldon High Street was suspended for a week following a failed test purchase involving a 15-year-old boy.

Then in 2014 Cllr Munawar filed for bankruptcy.

Furthermore, during his time as a director for Aspen Wholesale between 2005 and 2015, the chain of shops had its licence revoked on a number of occasions.

In response to claims that he is not ‘suitable’ to be leader, Cllr Munawar said: “None of the above has ever been hidden.

“I find it sad that I suspect some people are trying to rake up matters already in the public domain and fully declared to the Labour Party. It does not affect my position as councillor.”

Reflecting on Monday’s extraordinary meeting in which several of his Labour colleagues walked out and refused to vote in favour of him being elected leader, Cllr Munawar said he was prepared to ‘let bygones be bygones’.

He said: “Let us not dwell on negatives but move forward in a positive and constructive manner.

“I will consult more with individuals and organisations, talk to councillors whatever their political persuasion. I want mature rather than confrontational politics.”

Looking towards the future, Cllr Munawar has confirmed his new cabinet and his priorities for the future.

In the first 100 days of office, he is hoping to focus on issues in the borough including addressing the housing crisis, accountability and performance, and work closely with the independent Slough Children’s Services Trust.

Cllr Munawar also announced his new cabinet yesterday (Thursday). Only Cllr Sabia Hussain (Lab, Central) retained her position in the cabinet. She has also been announced as the new deputy leader of the council.

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