BUSINESSMAN Rois Ali is the councillor embroiled in allegations concerning at least £25,000 of unpaid business rates due to the council, we can exclusively reveal.
He was also recently under fire after he declared his ‘beneficial interest’ in premises for at least seven takeaway and eatery businesses which breached planning orders and operated without planning permission, as we also revealed.
The Conservative opposition at last week’s full Coventry City Council meeting resumed their questions from last month’s meeting concerning an unnamed councillor alleged to be involved with a business which had a non-disclosed amount of ‘substantial’ debt arrears to the local authority.
The Coventry Observer has now seen a confidential council list of companies owing debt.
It shows one is based at an address in Coventry which also appears on Coun Ali’s declaration in the council’s register of members’ beneficial interests.
The list states the company owes £25,650 to Coventry City Council in unpaid arrears.
The Observer has chosen not to name the company for legal reasons.
Any personal involvement in the business by Coun Ali is not established beyond his declaration that he has a beneficial interest in the premises at the same address.
Of the latest allegations, Coun Ali said: “I own the land. I lease it to the company and that’s it. I’ve got nothing to do with it.
“If the tenant is liable, they pay for it. It’s my understanding there is construction on the site so it is out of the ratings department.”
He said he wanted to put the record straight, and added he did not know if there was still a dispute with the council over the alleged arrears at the premises.
Councillor Tim Sawdon asked Labour finance cabinet member John Mutton last week: “Is he aware of any member – either as the owner of a business premises, as a sole trader, business partner or company director or in any other capacity – who is in arrears or is in dispute over business rates?”
Coun Mutton responded: “Yes.”
Last month, Tory councillor Tim Mayer requested from Labour council leader George Duggins a full council list of firms in business tax arrears with summons outstanding – where the council had applied for a summons to be issued in the magistrates court.
He also asked Coun Duggins if he knew of any councillor in such circumstances. Coun Duggins responded: “No.”
Asked if the public had a right to know the identity of any councillor and the “substantial sums” involved, Coun Mutton last week declined to name the councillor allegedly involved, stating: “While an issue is in dispute I do not believe it serves any useful purpose to publicise it.”
Earlier this month he was finally granted planning permission for two of the seven businesses previously served with council enforcement action for planning breaches – The Village Cafe in Tile Hill and Ginger Orange restaurant in Styvechale.
In both cases he told us he was the landlord who was working with the council and his tenants to remedy matters.
He also told us all previous planning breaches by other companies had also been rectified.