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Mayor of Luton resigns after breaking coronavirus lockdown rules
5 August 2020, 18:46
The Mayor of Luton has stepped down from his role after being pictured breaching coronavirus lockdown guidelines.
Cllr Tahir Malik was seen at an outdoor gathering with a group of 12 men last month, which was double the number allowed under government laws.
Following the revelation, Luton Council was forced to apologise after receiving a number of complaints about the conduct of three Labour councillors - including the mayor and councillors Asif Masood and Waheed Akbar.
A new mayor will be appointed on 29 September and will serve for the remainder of the municipal year.
Issuing an apology to the residents of Luton, Cllr Malik explained that stepping down was "the best thing" for the town.
He said: "Once again I regret my actions which were below the standard of my position and would like to sincerely apologise to the people of Luton for attending this gathering which was in breach of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
"There is no excuse for what I did - I should have known better and I accept full responsibility for my actions."
Mr Malik was seen chatting with guests less than two metres apart with a mask hanging below his face at a gathering that took place just days before Luton was named an "area of intervention" by Public Health England because of concern over the number of coronavirus cases.
The now-former mayor added that the decision came after speaking with his loved ones, despite the ongoing disciplinary process.
"After reflecting with my family over the last few days, we agreed that the best thing I could do for the town was to resign from my position with immediate effect," he said.
"It has been a great honour to hold this office for the last 15 months."
Cllr Malik described Luton as a "fantastic town" packed with "thousands of incredible and inspiring people" that he hoped would overcome the challenges posed by coronavirus.
"Luton is full of so many hardworking, selfless individuals who work every day to help other people and make the town a better place," he said.
"I have learnt a valuable lesson from this, but I hope the consequence of my actions serves as a reminder to the people of Luton of the importance of following the Covid-19 guidelines as it remains a real and serious threat.
"My departing wish is to see our fantastic town and our communities pull together to beat this dreadful disease."
Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, Leader of Luton Council, added: "I would like to thank Cllr Malik for his service as Mayor of Luton. He made a mistake which he deeply regrets, and I know he and his family are really hurting right now.
"Prior to this, he had been an excellent ambassador for the town both locally and nationally, raising a lot of money for charity during the process.
"What has happened is unfortunate, and I think it is right for him to step down at this time, but it's important to recognise the fantastic contribution he has made to Luton."
The council received a number of complaints about the three councillors who admitted to attending the function, all of which will be addressed through the Council's Standards Process, in line with legislation.
A Labour East spokesperson previously said: "It is essential that everybody follows social distancing measures in order to protect the public from Covid-19. It is even more important for those in positions of authority to be setting the right example.
“The Labour Party investigates all complaints received and where rules have been breached, action will be taken in line with the Labour Party’s rules.”