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£2 million kickbacks claim over London council’s repairs ‘scam’

·2-min read
Bob Blackman,  MP for Harrow East   (Elliott Franks )
Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East (Elliott Franks )

Council officials were today accused of taking “kickbacks” as part of a scam, with a contractor paid £2 million.

The allegation against Harrow council employees was made by senior Tory MP Bob Blackman.

The MP for Harrow East raised the claims of wrongdoing and of an alleged “cover-up” in the Commons.

“Residents constantly contact me about the state of roads and pavements in the London borough of Harrow. I put this down to the inefficiency of the Labour-run council,” he said.

However, he then alleged that the “real reason” was “£2 million of council tax payers’ money being given to contractors, contractors not actually doing the work, and then council staff receiving kickbacks”.

He added: “There is an ongoing police investigation on this issue. I understand that every member of the department has now either resigned, retired or been sacked. The council tax payers naturally say, ‘Our council is involved — what has been going on?’ This has been covered up for eight months.”

He called for a Commons debate on “corruption in local government and transparency”, claiming that such practices were happening in other town halls around the country.

Commons leader Mark Spencer responded: “It is an important principle that local government is independent of central government. I understand that the council is co-operating with the police on this matter.

“The Government will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a good record of transparency, probity, scrutiny and accountability is maintained across councils in this country.”

A Met Police spokesman said that in August last year the force was “made aware of allegations of fraud whereby payments were allegedly received by employees of a north London council in return for awarding contracts to provide council services”. Four council employees were arrested on suspicion of fraud and abusing their position the same month. A fifth man who did not work for the council was arrested in December. All five have been bailed pending further investigation.

A Harrow council spokeswoman said: “Harrow council has a zero-tolerance to any form of corruption and are co-operating fully with the Met Police on this matter. We will not be making any further comment at this stage.”