A former Brent Council leader called on three current councillors to resign after they attended a charity event during the national lockdown – though it has been dismissed by the local Labour Group as “political point scoring”.
Paul Lorber accused Cllr Muhammed Butt, the current leader of Brent Council, of hypocrisy after he visited a community kitchen at Alperton Baptist Church, in Ealing Road, Wembley, on January 9.
Cllr Butt was joined by fellow Brent councillors Trupti Sangani and Krupesh Hirani, as well as Harrow councillor Ajay Maru.
Mr Lorber said this went against their own and the Government’s, advice to ‘stay at home’ to combat the spread of Covid-19.
“In [Cllr Butt’s] own words those making unnecessary journeys and gathering in groups are putting others at risk,” Mr Lorber said.
“On January 9, the Labour leader of Brent Council and other Labour councillors made unnecessary journeys, gathered in a group and through their actions put other Brent residents at risk.”
He said such actions are undermining the public’s confidence in the council’s ability to manage the pandemic and suggested those involved step down from their roles.
Cllr Butt dismissed these comments, arguing that the event was for a worthy cause and one which adhered to lockdown guidance.
And some of the councillors involved posted images of the event on social media to highlight the work being carried out by London’s Community Kitchen.
Cllr Butt said: “I was asked to go along, lend my support, and help raise awareness about this invaluable work.
“You’d have to be living on another planet not to realise how many people are struggling right now, how desperate their situations are, so it’s vitally important that they know help is available – I make no apology for that.
“We had all the right PPE on, we kept our distance, and the event itself was well within the rules and guidelines.”
A spokesman for Brent Labour added: “Ex-councillor Paul Lorber has made a complaint about local representatives supporting legitimate community actions.
“It is disappointing albeit not surprising that the de facto head of the Brent Lib Dems is trying to score political points off a charity event arranged to help people, not least young families, who are struggling to feed themselves during this latest lockdown.”
Mr Lorber also pointed out this is not the first time Brent councillors have been spotted at what could be described as ‘non-essential’ events during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He described Cllrs Butt and Sangani as “serial rule breakers”, referencing an incident in June when they attended a joint prayer meeting at Ealing Road Temple despite national guidelines prohibiting this.
Following a complaint, the pair apologised for their actions after they were found to have breached the Councillors’ Code of Conduct in terms of leadership and integrity.
However, they were not seen to have brought the council into disrepute, with monitoring officer Debra Norman noting the wider intention of the event was to “provide comfort at what was a very distressing time for many”.