Tory group leader says ‘taxi scandal needs to end now’

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Councillors who allowed a rapist to drive a city cab have just 24 hours to answer calls to step down and resign. If not they will remain in office until May.

MK Tory boss Edith Bald has called for the resignation of the Lib Dem leader and said it was an “insult to the women of this city” that the councillors involved have refused to take responsibility for their actions.

Lib Dem group leader Douglas McCall

Lib Dem group leader Douglas McCall

She claims Councillor Douglas McCall has shown “poor leadership” by standing by his members Subhan Shafiq and Stuart Burke – despite public pressure to quit.

Mrs Bald said: “I am ashamed that my peer, Mr McCall, has refused to take accountability for the action of his members.

“Failure to act is an insult to women of this city and taxi users more widely. It has caused untold reputational damage to the hardworking honest taxi drivers who serve Milton Keynes, and to the reputation of the city overall.

“Those who continually fail to see the error of their ways should resign immediately.

Councillor Edith Bald and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP

Councillor Edith Bald and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP

“Only then will the people of Milton Keynes feel that true accountability for putting public safety at risk has been accepted.”

Mr Burke was chairman of the licensing and regulatory committee that granted the convicted rapist’s licence after a personal recommendation from ex-mayor Mr Shafiq.

Tomorrow sees the end of a 10-week saga as a strict deadline scuppers the chance of a by-election to replace Mr Shafiq and Mr Burke, who are up for re-election next year.

This means they will continue to represent Monkston and Emerson Valley for the next six months.

If Mr Shafiq, Mr Burke and Mr McCall were to resign as councillors, a third of the Lib Dem will have left the council.

Last week, political lobbying group TaxPayers’ Alliance slammed Mr Burke’s admission that he had “no intention” of resigning – as it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Spokesman Andy Silvester told the Citizen the average by-election only costs around £3,000, and that “you can’t put a price on democracy”.

He said: “If we followed this logic to its conclusion, we’d do away with elections completely. Whether the councillor stands down is for him to decide, but the cost is no excuse.

“This case demonstrates the clear need for voters to have power to recall politicians when they feel let down.”

An audit reportinvestigating the licensing scandal, which has taken three months to compile, is being heard by the committee on November 25. The Lib Dems say they will not comment on the resignations of councillors until the audit report is released.

> How much is £3,000 to Milton Keynes Council?

The annual council budget for 2014-15 is £200million. That means the council spends £3,000 - the cost of a by-election - every 7 minutes and 53 seconds.

Before he resigned as licensing and regulatory Mr Burke’s council allowance was £18,094. He could expect to be paid £3,000 - the cost of a by-election - every two months.

During 2012-13, councillors spent almost double the cost of a £3,000 by-election on travelling to their duties and paying for their dinner, through their travel and subsistence expenses.