Friday, 30 December 2011

let's look at those control orders

the Reading Chronicle Arsewipe (hi Sally Stevens, sent any good threatening emails lately?  Still waiting to hear from your lawyers.  I'll be checking my own emails late on New Year's Eve, just in case) has published what is below.  My insertions in red, in what I hope is a helpful and illuminating update to the story.  My question is, why publish now?

A LANDLORD has launched a legal battle to force town hall bosses to explain how his property empire was stripped from him while he was serving a life sentence for murder. As well he might.  The sentence he received did not authorize the seizure of all his property, and not all the property seized belonged to him anyway, but to members of his family.
Reading Borough Council used control orders to seize six properties - in Catherine Street, Argyle Street, Western Elms Avenue and two in Waylen Street - from Ishtiaq Ahmed, and his brothers Bashir and Mushtaq, after he was jailed for the murder of tenant David Pickering in 1991. I remember it well.  I was a councillor at the time.  The use of control orders was fairly new then, and was intended to deal with rogue landlords, at which it had some success.  But this particular rogue landlord (which is what Ishtiaq Ahmed was, whatever else he might have done) was in prison by then, after a tenant of his was murdered.  Local MPs were pestered for years after that with protestations of his innocence, may still be, for all I know.  So what were the control orders for?  The properties, or most of them, fell under the management of Co-op Home Services, which was connected with Middlesex Housing Co-operative, after the control orders were executed.  Two serving councillors at the time were among those who went into the properties to execute the orders.  They went not in their capacity as councillors but as employees of Co-op Home Services.  They were the late John Cook and Martin Salter.  The properties were later repossessed by their respective mortgagees, even though the council had taken charge of collecting rent and paying the bills under the control orders why? whoever was receiving rent for the properties, in this case Reading Borough Council, should have paid it over to the property owner(s) or mortgage holder(s).  Why did they not?  What was that rent used for? Was the council aware at the time that Messrs Salter and Cook were responsible for tenant and property management?  So much so that later in the 1990s Mr Salter paid cash to an unemployed person of my acquaintance to do occasional property inspection work.  but five were subsequently sold to the council, and one to Middlesex Housing Co-operative.
The Ahmed brothers and their Reading legal team, from E J Winter & Son in The Forbury, claim the council has never paid any compensation - estimated at more than £100,000 - nor provided full accounts of income and expenditure as it is legally obliged to do. They might well ask. A reasonable question. They claim the reasons for the original control orders are not clear and they have been unable to establish what the council paid for the properties.  Or that it paid anything at all.  It is my belief that it did not, that the properties, having been physically repossessed from their legal owners, taking the opportunity of the imprisonment of one of them for murder, by two councillors acting on behalf of their employer, were simply handed over to the council so that Co-Op Home Services could place tenants in them who would otherwise be on the council's waiting list.  I'd be surprised to see any valid paperwork.
Mr Ahmed, from Beresford Road, who has continued to maintain his innocence since his release last year after serving nearly 20 years, said: "All these properties together are now worth millions of pounds. They have taken my livelihood and will not give me any accountability. From day one we have been writing to the council for an explanation, they are obliged by law to answer."
Britannia Building Society paid £16,000 - the residue after selling the Argyle Street property - into court because it was unable to find Mr Ahmed's brother Bashir.
Bashir managed to reclaim the money this year, but the brothers allege the council knew "full well" where he was.  I could have told them where he was, never mind the council, and I haven't lived in Reading since 2005. 
Yesterday, council spokesman, Oscar Mortali, said he was unable to comment.  I bet he is unable.  Are the Ahmeds' legal team going to make public the involvement of the then deputy leader of Reading Borough Council, Mr Salter, in the control orders, and in the subsequent management of those properties?  I would respectfully suggest that they do.  Not looking good, is it, 1990s Chair of Reading's Housing Committee Mrs Lovelock?  Still happy with your lobbyist, Angling Trust?

Middlesex Housing Co-Operative is registered at:

The Market Building
 195 High Street
Postcode:TW8 8LB

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Talking of criminals, see for a nasty thief from Newtown being supported by Page, Tickner, Ayub and Salter.