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Councillor at centre of standards controversy to run for South Yorkshire mayor

Cllr Mazher Iqbal is one of seven candidates who has put themselves forward for the Labour nomination, emails show.

Rotherham

The South Yorkshire mayorality covers Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley and Sheffield.

Ben Sutherland on Wikimedia Commons.

A councillor at the centre of a recent controversy over alleged relationships with property developers is running for Mayor of South Yorkshire.

An email obtained by Now Then shows that Mazher Iqbal, who has recently been reinstated as Executive Member for City Futures, has put his name forward for the Labour nomination.

The six other candidates for the Labour nomination include former Sheffield cabinet member Lewis Dagnall and Oliver Coppard, who came close to unseating Nick Clegg as Labour candidate in Sheffield Hallam in 2015.

Cllr Iqbal, who represents Darnall, was recently reinstated after a four-month suspension as a cabinet member, while officers investigated a complaint into his conduct by a former Council employee.

Simon Ogden, Head of City Centre Regeneration at the Council for 14 years, accused Iqbal of “openly associating with and supporting the interests of” private commercial parties, including property developers.

email

An email obtained by Now Then which shows the candidates for the Labour nomination.

He claimed the councillor had wasted public money by delaying or cancelling planning work and public consultations, and that he had met developers without Council officers present.

Last month, Council Leader Terry Fox said the findings of the investigation “completely exonerate” Iqbal and accused the local press of "weaponising" the complaint to "smear a hardworking councillor.”

In fact a council sub-committee cleared Iqbal of breaching the members' code of conduct, but said they were "deeply concerned about the seeming acceptability of the day-to-day behaviours of senior officers and Members illustrated by the complaint."

"In the Sub-committee’s view, [Cllr Iqbal] did not always model the behaviours expected of a senior Member of the Council and this type of behaviour should not have gone unchecked.”

Iqbal said that the decision to clear his name was "incredibly welcome news" and that the length of time it took to resolve the complaint had been "a great disappointment."

Now Then understands that Simon Ogden has lodged a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman about “the long unexplained delays and inept handling of the investigation” into the Darnall councillor by Sheffield Council, which took more than a year.

Elections for a new Mayor of South Yorkshire will take place on 5 May 2022, after Labour incumbent Dan Jarvis announced he would not seek a second term in office.

Whoever wins the Labour selection process is highly likely to become the next mayor. At the last election in 2018 Jarvis won 74% of the vote.

Cllr Dagnall, who is married to the current Sheffield Hallam MP for Olivia Blake, will be seen as the candidate representing the party's left.

The other candidates are Doncaster councillors Jake Kearsley and Rachael Blake, Sheffield councillor Jayne Dunn, and member of the Barnsley Youth Council Dominic Jones.

Candidates for the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and other parties have not yet been announced.

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